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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Riled up

The Persistence of Neighborhood Disadvantage: An Experimental Investigation of Alcohol and Later Physical Aggression

Volkan Topalli et al.
Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research examined the combined impact of alcohol and previous experience growing up in a disadvantaged neighborhood on aggression in a laboratory setting. Participants were 505 young adult social drinkers between 21 and 35 years of age who completed a retrospective measure of neighborhood disadvantage and then participated in an experimental procedure, where they either consumed an alcohol or placebo beverage. They were subsequently tested on a laboratory aggression task in which they were provoked by receiving electric shocks from a fictitious opponent under the guise of a competitive reaction-time task. Aggression was operationalized as shock intensities and durations administered, in retaliation, by the participants to their fictitious opponent. Acute alcohol intoxication significantly increased aggression for those who grew up in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Thus, our investigation supports Sampson's notions of "legacies of neighborhood inequality" with important implications for the etiology and prevention of violence in real-world settings.

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Bullying in elementary school and psychotic experiences at 18 years: A longitudinal, population-based cohort study

D. Wolke et al.
Psychological Medicine, forthcoming

Background: Victims of bullying are at risk for psychotic experiences in early adolescence. It is unclear if this elevated risk extends into late adolescence. The aim of this study was to test whether bullying perpetration and victimization in elementary school predict psychotic experiences in late adolescence.

Method: The current study is based on the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a prospective community-based study. A total of 4720 subjects with bullying perpetration and victimization were repeatedly assessed between the ages of 8 and 11 years by child and mother reports. Suspected or definite psychotic experiences were assessed with the Psychosis-Like Symptoms semi-structured interview at age 18 years.

Results: Controlling for child's gender, intelligence quotient at age 8 years, childhood behavioural and emotional problems, and also depression symptoms and psychotic experiences in early adolescence, victims [child report at 10 years: odds ratio (OR) 2.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.6-3.4; mother report: OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.1-2.3], bully/victims (child report at 10 years: OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.7-5.8; mother: OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.7-5.0) and bullies (child report at 10 years: OR 4.9, 95% CI 1.3-17.7; mother: OR 1.2, 95% CI 0.46-3.1, n.s.) had a higher prevalence of psychotic experiences at age 18 years. Path analysis revealed that the association between peer victimization in childhood and psychotic experiences at age 18 years was only partially mediated by psychotic or depression symptoms in early adolescence.

Conclusions: Involvement in bullying, whether as victim, bully/victim or bully, may increase the risk of developing psychotic experiences in adolescence. Health professionals should ask routinely during consultations with children about their bullying of and by peers.

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Competence-Impeding Electronic Games and Players' Aggressive Feelings, Thoughts, and Behaviors

Andrew Przybylski et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent studies have examined whether electronic games foster aggression. At present, the extent to which games contribute to aggression and the mechanisms through which such links may exist are hotly debated points. In current research we tested a motivational hypothesis derived from self-determination theory - that gaming would be associated with indicators of human aggression to the degree that the interactive elements of games serve to impede players' fundamental psychological need for competence. Seven studies, using multiple methods to manipulate player competence and a range of approaches for evaluating aggression, indicated that competence-impeding play led to higher levels of aggressive feelings, easier access to aggressive thoughts, and a greater likelihood of enacting aggressive behavior. Results indicated that player perceived competence was positively related to gaming motivation, a factor that was, in turn, negatively associated with player aggression. Overall, this pattern of effects was found to be independent of the presence or absence of violent game contents. We discuss the results in respect to research focused on psychological need frustration and satisfaction and as they regard gaming-related aggression literature.

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Switch on to games: Can digital games aid post-work recovery?

Emily Collins & Anna Cox
International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recovery is a necessary factor in avoiding work-related strain and in feeling prepared for the next day of work. In order for recovery to be successful, an individual must experience psychological detachment from work, relaxation, mastery experiences and a sense of control, all of which have been argued to be assisted by digital game use. However, it is unclear whether these associations will be greater for certain digital game genres, or whether this would extend to other recovery-related outcomes, for instance work home interference (WHI), where the stress from work interferes with home-life. These factors may be vital in determining whether interventions aimed at improving recovery using digital games would be effective, and what form these should take. The present research surveyed 491 participants and found that the total number of hours spent playing digital games per week was positively correlated with overall recovery. Correlations varied with genre, highlighting the importance of game characteristics in this relationship: first person shooters and action games were most highly correlated with recovery. Moreover, digital game use was not related to a reduction in work-home interference. When restricting the analysis to gamers who report to have developed online relationships, online social support mediated the relationship between digital game use and recovery. Results are discussed in terms of how digital games may be utilised to improve recovery and reduce work-related stress.

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Genes in the Dopaminergic System and Delinquent Behaviors Across the Life Course: The Role of Social Controls and Risks

Jason Boardman et al.
Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the interaction between social control and social risk mechanisms, and genes within the dopaminergic system (DAT1 and DRD2) as related to serious and violent forms of delinquent behavior among adolescents and young adults. We use nine waves of data from the National Youth Survey Family Study (NYSFS) to examine the relevance of protective or risky social factors at four social levels, including school, neighborhood, friends, and family within the gene-environment interaction framework. We extend previous work in this area by providing a testable typology of gene-environment interactions derived from current theories in this area. We find consistent evidence that the associations between putatively risky genotypes and delinquent behavior are suppressed within protective social environments. We also provide some evidence that supports the differential susceptibility hypothesis for these outcomes. Our findings largely confirm the conclusions of previous work and continue to highlight the critical role of the social environment within candidate gene studies of complex behaviors.

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The Effects of Mediated Exposure to Ethnic-Political Violence on Middle East Youth's Subsequent Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms and Aggressive Behavior

Shira Dvir Gvirsman et al.
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study introduces the concept of chronic (i.e., repeated and cumulative) mediated exposure to political violence and investigates its effects on aggressive behavior and post-traumatic stress (PTS) symptoms in young viewers. Embracing the risk-matrix approach, these effects are studied alongside other childhood risk factors that influence maladjustment. A longitudinal study was conducted on a sample of youth who experience the Israeli-Palestinian conflict firsthand (N = 1,207). As hypothesized, higher levels of chronic mediated exposure were longitudinally related to higher levels of PTS symptoms and aggression at peers independently of exposure to violence in other contexts. In the case of aggressive behavior, structural equation analysis (SEM) analyses suggest that, while it is likely there are causal effects in both directions, the bigger effect is probably for exposure to violence stimulating aggression than for aggression stimulating exposure to violence. Both the longitudinal effects on aggression and PTS symptoms were especially strong among youth who demonstrated initially higher levels of the same type of maladjustment. These results support the conceptualization of the relation between media violence and behaviors as "reciprocally determined" or "downward spirals" and highlight the contribution of the risk-matrix approach to the analysis of childhood maladjustment.

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Simple mathematical law benchmarks human confrontations

Neil Johnson et al.
Scientific Reports, December 2013

Abstract:
Many high-profile societal problems involve an individual or group repeatedly attacking another - from child-parent disputes, sexual violence against women, civil unrest, violent conflicts and acts of terror, to current cyber-attacks on national infrastructure and ultrafast cyber-trades attacking stockholders. There is an urgent need to quantify the likely severity and timing of such future acts, shed light on likely perpetrators, and identify intervention strategies. Here we present a combined analysis of multiple datasets across all these domains which account for >100,000 events, and show that a simple mathematical law can benchmark them all. We derive this benchmark and interpret it, using a minimal mechanistic model grounded by state-of-the-art fieldwork. Our findings provide quantitative predictions concerning future attacks; a tool to help detect common perpetrators and abnormal behaviors; insight into the trajectory of a 'lone wolf'; identification of a critical threshold for spreading a message or idea among perpetrators; an intervention strategy to erode the most lethal clusters; and more broadly, a quantitative starting point for cross-disciplinary theorizing about human aggression at the individual and group level, in both real and online worlds.

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Extending Color Psychology to the Personality Realm: Interpersonal Hostility Varies by Red Preferences and Perceptual Biases

Adam Fetterman, Tianwei Liu & Michael Robinson
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: The color psychology literature has made a convincing case that color is not just about aesthetics, but also about meaning. This work has involved situational manipulations of color, rendering it uncertain as to whether color-meaning associations can be used to characterize how people differ from each other. The present research focuses on the idea that the color red is linked to, or associated with, individual differences in interpersonal hostility.

Method: Across four studies (N = 376), red preferences and perceptual biases were measured along with individual differences in interpersonal hostility.

Results: It was found that: (a) a preference for the color red was higher as interpersonal hostility increased, (b) hostile people were biased to see the color red more frequently than non-hostile people, and (c) there was a relationship between a preference for the color red and hostile social decision-making.

Conclusions: These studies represent an important extension of the color psychology literature, highlighting the need to attend to person-based, as well as situation-based, factors.

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The Impact of Victimization and Witnessing Violence on Physical Aggression Among High-Risk Adolescents

Albert Farrell et al.
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
Relations among witnessing violence, victimization, and physical aggression were investigated within a high-risk sample of 1,156 sixth graders. Longitudinal, multilevel analyses were conducted on two waves of data from two cohorts of students in 37 schools from four communities. The sample was 65% male and 67% African American. Neighborhood concentrated disadvantage, witnessing violence, victimization, and physical aggression were strongly and positively correlated at the school level. Contrary to hypothesis, exposure to violence did not mediate the effects of neighborhood concentrated disadvantage on changes in physical aggression. As expected, witnessing violence and physical aggression had bidirectional longitudinal effects on each other at the student level. In contrast, there were no cross-variable relations between changes in violent victimization and aggression over time.

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Inked into Crime? An Examination of the Causal Relationship between Tattoos and Life-Course Offending among Males from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development

Wesley Jennings, Bryanna Hahn Fox & David Farrington
Journal of Criminal Justice, January-February 2014, Pages 77-84

Purpose: There have been a number of prior studies that have investigated the relationship between tattoos and crime with most documenting evidence of an association. Specifically, prior research often suggests that individuals with tattoos commit more crime, are disproportionately concentrated in offender and institutionalized populations, and often have personality disorders. Having said this, the bulk of the prior research on this topic has been correlational.

Methods: In the current study, we rely on data from a prospective longitudinal study of 411 British males from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development and employ propensity score matching to determine if the link between tattoos and crime may in fact be causal.

Results: Results suggest that having tattoos is better considered as a symptom of another set of developmental risk factors and personality traits that are both related to tattooing and being involved in crime rather than as a causal factor for predicting crime over the life-course.

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Testosterone reactivity and identification with a perpetrator or a victim in a story are associated with attraction to violence-related cues

Roland Weierstall et al.
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, forthcoming

Background: Recent field research has demonstrated that an attraction to aggressive behavior and cruelty is common among combatants and perpetrators involved in organized violence. The biological basis of this appetitive perception of aggression in humans has to date not been studied.

Aims: We examined testosterone as a potential hormonal moderator during induction of specifically appetitive aggressive behavior in the laboratory.

Method: To activate physiological responding related to appetitive aggression, 145 university students (72 women) listened to tape recordings of variants of a violent story. The perspective of the listener in the story was randomized between subjects. Participants were required to either identify as perpetrator, neutral observer, or victim. We assessed changes in saliva testosterone in response to the story. Subsequently, a series of pictorial stimuli (IAPS) with different valence ratings was presented and participants determined the length of viewing time with a button click. This viewing time for negative IAPS was assessed as a dependent variable indicating level of interest in violent scenes.

Results: Men identified themselves with the perpetrator more than women irrespective of the particular perspective presented by the story. Men who responded with an increase in saliva testosterone when adopting the perpetrator perspective chose to view the negative IAPS pictures for longer intervals than participants in other conditions or those who did not exhibit a release in testosterone.

Conclusions: Testosterone moderates attraction to cruel and violent cues in men, as indicated by extended deliberate viewing of violence cues.

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Materazzi effect and the strategic use of anger in competitive interactions

Uri Gneezy & Alex Imas
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
We propose that individuals use anger strategically in interactions. We first show that in some environments angering people makes them more effective in competitions, whereas in others, anger makes them less effective. We then show that individuals anticipate these effects and strategically use the option to anger their opponents. In particular, they are more likely to anger their opponents when anger negatively affects the opponents' performances. This finding suggests people understand the effects of emotions on behavior and exploit them to their advantage.

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Skill Gap: Quantifying Violent Content in Video Game Play Between Variably Skilled Users

Nicholas Matthews & Andrew Weaver
Mass Communication and Society, November/December 2013, Pages 829-846

Abstract:
This study investigated the effect of individuals' self-reported skill levels on generated violent content. After playing a violent video game, participants (N = 68) completed a questionnaire determining skill level with measures modified from previous game studies. The resulting 4,023 instances of violence were analyzed using techniques adapted from prior video game content analyses and the National Television Violence Study. Findings indicated a significant difference in the amount and context of violent acts between higher skilled and lower skilled players. Those who reported being higher skilled generated more instances of violence, were more often the perpetrators rather than the targets of violence, experienced greater consequences (graphicness) of violence, and experienced more on-screen and up-close violence.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, January 17, 2014

The lowest rung

Self-Affirmation Among the Poor: Cognitive and Behavioral Implications

Crystal Hall, Jiaying Zhao & Eldar Shafir
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The poor are universally stigmatized. The stigma of poverty includes being perceived as incompetent and feeling shunned and disrespected. It can lead to cognitive distancing, diminish cognitive performance, and cause the poor to forego beneficial programs. In the present research, we examined how self-affirmation can mitigate the stigma of poverty through randomized field experiments involving low-income individuals at an inner-city soup kitchen. Because of low literacy levels, we used an oral rather than written affirmation procedure, in which participants verbally described a personal experience that made them feel successful or proud. Compared with nonaffirmed participants, affirmed individuals exhibited better executive control, higher fluid intelligence, and a greater willingness to avail themselves of benefits programs. The effects were not driven by elevated positive mood, and the same intervention did not affect the performance of wealthy participants. The findings suggest that self-affirmation can improve the cognitive performance and decisions of the poor, and it may have important policy implications.

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Do Housing Choice Voucher Holders Live Near Good Schools?

Keren Mertens Horn, Ingrid Gould Ellen & Amy Ellen Schwartz
Journal of Housing Economics, March 2014, Pages 28–40

Abstract:
The Housing Choice Voucher program was created, in part, to help low income households reach a broader range of neighborhoods and schools. Rather than concentrating low income households in designated developments, vouchers allow families to choose their housing units and neighborhoods. In this project we explore whether low income households use the flexibility provided by vouchers to reach neighborhoods with high performing schools. Unlike previous experimental work, which has focused on a small sample of voucher holders constrained to live in low-poverty neighborhoods, we look at the voucher population as a whole and explore the broad range of neighborhoods in which they live. Relying on internal data from HUD on the location of assisted households, we link each voucher holder in the country to the closest elementary school within their school district. We compare the characteristics of the schools that voucher holders are likely to attend to the characteristics of those accessible to other households receiving place based housing subsidies, other similar unsubsidized households and fair market rent units within the same state and metropolitan area. These comparisons provide us with a portrait of the schools that children might have attended absent HUD assistance. In comparison to other poor households in the same metropolitan areas, we find that the schools near voucher holders have lower performing students than the schools near other poor households without a housing subsidy. We probe this surprising finding by exploring whether differences between the demographic characteristics of voucher holders and other poor households explain the differences in the characteristics of nearby schools, and whether school characteristics vary with length of time in the voucher program. We also examine variation across metropolitan areas in the relative quality of schools near to voucher holders and whether this variation is explained by economic, socio-demographic or policy differences across cities.

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Poverty and Materialism: A Look at Impoversihed Versus Affluent Children

Lan Nguyen Chaplin, Ronald Hill & Deborah Roedder John
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, forthcoming

Abstract:
Concerns about materialism have been elevated to a public policy issue, with consumer activists and social scientists calling for restrictions on marketing to children. A recent UNICEF report on welfare of children suggests that those from low-income families may be particularly vulnerable (www.unicef.org.uk). The current research provides a first glimpse into consumer values of impoverished children. Personal interviews conducted with 177 youngsters from impoverished and affluent families reveal differences in materialistic values. Although younger children (ages 8–10) from poor families exhibit similar levels of materialism as their more affluent peers, once they reach adolescence (ages 11–13) and beyond (ages 16–17), impoverished youngsters are more materialistic than their wealthier counterparts. Further analysis shows this difference is associated with lower self-esteem among impoverished teens. Implications of these findings are discussed, including public policy solutions aimed at reducing low-income children's vulnerability to developing materialistic values that undermine their well-being.

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How Much International Variation in Child Height Can Sanitation Explain?

Dean Spears
Princeton Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Physical height is an important economic variable reflecting health and human capital. Puzzlingly, however, differences in average height across developing countries are not well explained by differences in wealth. In particular, children in India are shorter, on average, than children in Africa who are poorer, on average, a paradox called "the Asian enigma" which has received much attention from economists. This paper provides the first documentation of a quantitatively important gradient between child height and sanitation that can statistically explain a large fraction of international height differences. This association between sanitation and human capital is robustly stable, even after accounting for other heterogeneity, such as in GDP. I apply three complementary empirical strategies to identify the association between sanitation and child height: country-level regressions across 140 country-years in 65 developing countries; within-country analysis of differences over time within Indian districts; and econometric decomposition of the India-Africa height difference in child-level data. Open defecation, which is exceptionally widespread in India, can account for much or all of the excess stunting in India.

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The Earned Income Tax Credit and Food Consumption Patterns

Leslie McGranahan & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach
Federal Reserve Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
The Earned Income Tax Credit is unique among social programs in that benefits are not paid out evenly across the calendar year. We exploit this feature of the EITC to investigate how the credit influences the food expenditure patterns of eligible households. We find that eligible households spend relatively more on healthy items including fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, and dairy products during the months when most refunds are paid.

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Exhaustion Of Food Budgets At Month’s End And Hospital Admissions For Hypoglycemia

Hilary Seligman et al.
Health Affairs, January 2014, Pages 116-123

Abstract:
One in seven US households cannot reliably afford food. Food budgets are more frequently exhausted at the end of a month than at other points in time. We postulated that this monthly pattern influenced health outcomes, such as risk for hypoglycemia among people with diabetes. Using administrative data on inpatient admissions in California for 2000–08, we found that admissions for hypoglycemia were more common in the low-income than the high-income population (270 versus 200 admissions per 100,000). Risk for hypoglycemia admission increased 27 percent in the last week of the month compared to the first week in the low-income population, but we observed no similar temporal variation in the high-income population. These findings suggest that exhaustion of food budgets might be an important driver of health inequities. Policy solutions to improve stable access to nutrition in low-income populations and raise awareness of the health risks of food insecurity might be warranted.

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The Employment Effect of Terminating Disability Benefits

Timothy Moore
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
While time out of work normally decreases subsequent employment, Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) may improve the health of disabled individuals and increase their ability to work. In this paper, I examine the employment of individuals who lost DI eligibility after the 1996 removal of drug and alcohol addictions as qualifying conditions. Approximately one-fifth started earning at levels that would have disqualified them for DI, an employment response that is large relative to their work histories. This response is largest for those who had received DI for 2.5-3 years, when it is 50% larger than for those who had received DI for less than one year and 30% larger than for those who had received DI for six years. A similar relationship between time on DI and the employment response is found among those whose primary disability was an addiction, mental disorder, or musculoskeletal condition, but not those with chronic conditions like heart or liver disease. The results suggest that a period of public assistance can maximize the employment of some disabled individuals.

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The Moral Obligations of Some Debts

Francesca Polletta & Zaibu Tufail
Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Abstract:
If given the opportunity to reduce your debt, albeit at some financial risk, would you take it? Interviews and observations in two debt settlement firms show that debt settlement clients tend not to calculate financial risks in deciding which debts to try to settle. Rather, they treat their relationship with their creditor as a reciprocal and ongoing one. If the service provided by their creditor was inadequate, clients feel justified in trying to settle their debt. Otherwise, they believe that they must pay back the debt in full. In line with recent work in economic sociology, we show that economic transactors are bound by the moral requirements of the relationship they are in. But debt settlement clients invent those relationships in at least two ways: turning a debt to an impersonal agency into a relationship with a person, and turning a relationship of inequality into one of equality. Clients may preserve some sense of autonomy in a disempowering relationship by conceptualizing their relationship with their creditor as one between equals. But there is a cost: As a result of the relational schemas on which they operate, they often refuse to try to settle debts that might be settled without lasting financial repercussions.

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Unemployment Insurance and Disability Insurance in the Great Recession

Andreas Mueller, Jesse Rothstein & Till von Wachter
NBER Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
Disability insurance (DI) applications and awards are countercyclical. One potential explanation is that unemployed individuals who exhaust their Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits use DI as a form of extended benefits. We exploit the haphazard pattern of UI benefit extensions in the Great Recession to identify the effect of UI exhaustion on DI application, using both aggregate data at the state-month and state-week levels and microdata on unemployed individuals in the Current Population Survey. We find no indication that expiration of UI benefits causes DI applications. Our estimates are sufficiently precise to rule out effects of meaningful magnitude.

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Low-Income Women’s Employment Experiences and Their Financial, Personal, and Family Well-Being

Rebekah Levine Coley & Caitlin McPherran Lombardi
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Low-income women’s rates of employment have grown dramatically in recent years, yet the stability and quality of their employment remain low. Using panel data from the Three-City Study following 1,586 low-income African American, Latina, and European American women, this study assessed associations between women’s employment quality (wages; receipt of health insurance) and stability (work consistency; job transitions) and their financial, personal, and family well-being. Hierarchical linear models assessing within-person effects found that increases in wages were associated with improved financial well-being and physical health. Average wages over time similarly were associated with greater levels of income and financial stability as well as mental and physical health at the end of the study. In contrast, few significant associations emerged for receipt of health insurance or for the stability and consistency of women’s employment. Results have implications for programs and policies seeking to support disadvantaged women’s employment in order to improve family resources and functioning.

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The Great Recession and the Changing Geography of Food Stamp Receipt

Tim Slack & Candice Myers
Population Research and Policy Review, February 2014, Pages 63-79

Abstract:
The Great Recession has been distinctive in driving up unprecedented levels of participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This study extends the literature on the geography of SNAP receipt by (1) examining change in SNAP receipt across US counties during the Great Recession and (2) identifying how changes in other local characteristics were associated with this outcome. Our analysis draws on data from the US Department of Agriculture and other secondary sources. We use descriptive statistics, mapping, and weighted least squares spatial regression models to examine county-level variation (N = 2,485) in the percentage-point change in SNAP receipt between 2007 and 2009. Our findings reveal substantial local-level variation in the change in SNAP stamp use during the downturn. We find that counties with the greatest levels of change in SNAP participation tend to be regionally clustered. Our regression analysis shows that areas where the signature characteristics of the Great Recession were most pronounced (i.e., home foreclosures and unemployment) were precisely the places where SNAP use jumped most, not places with historically high levels of SNAP participation. Overall, this study demonstrates that change in SNAP receipt was geographically uneven during the Great Recession, and that local and regional configurations matter in shaping this variation. These results hold a range of implications for public policy, including opportunities for regionally targeted outreach and investment in SNAP and the use of the program as a responsive form of local stimulus during periods of economic crisis.

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Aid to Jobless Workers in Florida in the Face of the Great Recession: The Interaction of Unemployment Insurance and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program

Colleen Heflin & Peter Mueser
University of Missouri Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
Although many programs redistribute resources in the U.S., two program were central in providing a safety net for those facing hardship during the Great Recession: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which grew to 47.7 million people in January 2013 – or 15.1 percent of all Americans – and the Unemployment Insurance Program (UI), which more than doubled with the onset of the recession, reaching a seasonally adjusted maximum of 6.5 million recipients in June 2009. We examine state administrative data from Florida for SNAP and UI from late 2005 through early 2010. We focus on two research questions: 1. In the face of caseload growth and compositional change in both programs, how has joint participation in UI among SNAP recipients changed? How much of the increase in joint participation is driven by changes in the characteristics of individuals participating in SNAP? How much is driven by the changing economic and policy conditions? 2. How has the role of UI changed for SNAP participants, and in particular how have patterns of combined usage evolved during this period? We find that the number of families relying on both SNAP and UI together ballooned with the Great Recession, and that the patterns changed as expected, with UI growing dramatically in relative importance. At the same time, only a minority of those swelling the ranks of SNAP obtained benefits from the UI program, suggesting that the current safety net has important limitations in times of serious economic distress.

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Waging War on Poverty: Historical Trends in Poverty Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure

Liana Fox et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey and the March Current Population Survey, we calculate historical poverty estimates based on the new Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) from 1967 to 2012. During this period, poverty as officially measured has stagnated. However, the official poverty measure (OPM) does not account for the effect of near-cash transfers on the financial resources available to families, an important omission since such transfers have become an increasingly important part of government anti-poverty policy. Applying the SPM, which does count such transfers, we find that historical trends in poverty have been more favorable than the OPM suggests and that government policies have played an important and growing role in reducing poverty --- a role that is not evident when the OPM is used to assess poverty. We also find that government programs have played a particularly important role in alleviating child poverty and deep poverty, especially during economic downturns.

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Human Capital in the Inner City

Dionissi Aliprantis
Federal Reserve Working Paper, February 2013

Abstract:
Black males in the United States are exposed to tremendous violence at young ages: In the NLSY97 26 percent report seeing someone shot by age 12, and 43 percent by age 18. This paper studies how this exposure to violence and its associated social isolation affect education and labor market outcomes. I use Elijah Anderson's ethnographic research on the "code of the street" to guide the specification of a model of human capital accumulation that includes street capital, the skills and knowledge useful for providing personal security in neighborhoods where it is not provided by state institutions. The model is estimated assuming either selection on observables or dynamic selection with permanent unobserved heterogeneity. Counterfactuals from these estimated models indicate that exposure to violence has large effects, decreasing the high school graduation rate between 6.1 and 10.5 percentage points (20 and 35 percent of the high school dropout rate) and hours worked between 3.0 and 4.0 hours per week (0.15 and 0.19 σ).

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Prevalence and Correlates of Food Insecurity Among Students Attending a Midsize Rural University in Oregon

Megan Patton-López et al.
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, forthcoming

Objective: To examine the prevalence and identify correlates of food insecurity among students attending a rural university in Oregon.

Methods: Cross-sectional nonprobability survey of 354 students attending a midsize rural university in Oregon during May, 2011. The main outcome was food insecurity measured using the US Department of Agriculture Household Food Security Survey Module: 6-Item Short Form. Socioeconomic and demographic variables were included in multivariate logistic regression models.

Results: Over half of students (59%) were food insecure at some point during the previous year. Having fair/poor health (odds ratio [OR], 2.08; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.07–4.63), being employed (OR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.04–2.88), and having an income < $15,000/y (OR, 2.23; 95% CI, 1.07–4.63) were associated with food insecurity. In turn, good academic performance (grade point average of ≥ 3.1) was inversely associated with food insecurity.

Conclusions: Food insecurity seems to be a significant issue for college students. It is necessary to expand research on different campus settings and further strengthen support systems to increase access to nutritious foods for this population.

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Do In-Work Tax Credits Serve as a Safety Net?

Marianne Bitler, Hilary Hoynes & Elira Kuka
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
The cash and near cash safety net in the U.S. has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past fifteen years. Federal welfare reform has led to the “elimination of welfare as we know it” and several tax reforms have substantially increased the role of “in-work”' assistance. In 2010, we spent more than 5 dollars on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for every dollar spent on cash benefits through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), whereas in 1994 on the eve of federal welfare reform these programs were about equal in size. In this paper, we evaluate and test whether the EITC satisfies a defining feature of a safety net program — that it responds to economic need. In particular, we explore how EITC participation and expenditures change with the business cycle. The fact that the EITC requires earned income leads to a theoretical ambiguity in the cyclical responsiveness of the credit. We use administrative IRS data to examine the relationship between business cycles and the EITC program. Our empirical strategy relies on exploiting differences in the timing and severity of economic cycles across states. The results show that higher unemployment rates lead to higher EITC recipients and total dollar amounts of credits for married couples. On the other hand, the effect of business cycles on the EITC is insignificant for single individuals, whether measured by recipients or expenditures. In sum, our results show that the EITC serves as an automatic stabilizer for married couples with children but not for the majority of recipients — single parents with children. The patterns we identify are consistent with the predictions of static labor supply theory, and with expectations about how economic shocks are likely to affect one versus two-earner households.

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The Effects of Unemployment on Prenatal Care Use and Infant Health

Andrea Kutinova Menclova
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, December 2013, Pages 400-420

Abstract:
Do recessions improve birth outcomes? This study investigated the relationship between unemployment fluctuations, prenatal care utilization and infant health. Analyzing the US Natality Detail Files for the period 1989–1999 aggregated by county, year, and race, I found the overall effects of unemployment to be beneficial but concluded that at least some of the apparent benefits are attributable to the Medicaid “safety net.” In supplementary analyses stratified by socioeconomic status, Medicaid played the largest role among economically disadvantaged (single and less educated) women. Thus, unemployment seems to be good for at least some pregnancies — provided Medicaid steps in.

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Insurance Coverage and Prenatal Care Among Low-Income Pregnant Women: An Assessment of States' Adoption of the "Unborn Child" Option in Medicaid and CHIP

Marian Jarlenski et al.
Medical Care, January 2014, Pages 10-19

Background: The “Unborn Child” (UC) option provides state Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs with a new strategy to extend prenatal coverage to low-income women who would otherwise have difficulty enrolling in or would be ineligible for Medicaid.

Objectives: To examine the association of the UC option with the probability of enrollment in Medicaid/CHIP during pregnancy and probability of receiving adequate prenatal care.

Research Design: We use pooled cross-sectional data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System from 32 states between 2004 and 2010 (n=81,983). Multivariable regression is employed to examine the association of the UC option with Medicaid/CHIP enrollment during pregnancy among eligible women who were uninsured preconception (n=45,082) and those who had insurance (but not Medicaid) preconception (n=36,901). Multivariable regression is also employed to assess the association between the UC option and receipt of adequate prenatal care, measured by the Adequacy of Prenatal Care Utilization Index.

Results: Residing in a state with the UC option is associated with a greater probability of Medicaid enrollment during pregnancy relative to residing in a state without the policy both among women uninsured preconception (88% vs. 77%, P<0.01) and among women insured (but not in Medicaid) preconception (40% vs. 31%, P<0.01). Residing in a state with the UC option is not significantly associated with receiving adequate prenatal care, among both women with and without insurance preconception.

Conclusions: The UC option provides states a key way to expand or simplify prenatal insurance coverage, but further policy efforts are needed to ensure that coverage improves access to high-quality prenatal care.

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Substance-Use Disorders and Poverty as Prospective Predictors of First-Time Homelessness in the United States

Ronald Thompson et al.
American Journal of Public Health, December 2013, Pages S282-S288

Objectives: We examined whether substance-use disorders and poverty predicted first-time homelessness over 3 years.

Methods: We analyzed longitudinal data from waves 1 (2001–2002) and 2 (2004–2005) of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions to determine the main and interactive effects of wave 1 substance use disorders and poverty on first-time homelessness by wave 2, among those who were never homeless at wave 1 (n = 30 558). First-time homelessness was defined as having no regular place to live or having to live with others for 1 month or more as a result of having no place of one’s own since wave 1.

Results: Alcohol-use disorders (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.34), drug-use disorders (AOR = 2.51), and poverty (AOR = 1.34) independently increased prospective risk for first-time homelessness, after adjustment for ecological variables. Substance-use disorders and poverty interacted to differentially influence risk for first-time homelessness (P < .05), before, but not after, adjustment for controls.

Conclusions: This study reinforces the importance of both substance-use disorders and poverty in the risk for first-time homelessness, and can serve as a benchmark for future studies. Substance abuse treatment should address financial status and risk of future homelessness.

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Untangling the Relationship Between Mental Health and Homelessness Among a Sample of Arrestees

Andrew Fox et al.
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Abstract:
Past research has focused on the intertwined relationship between homelessness, mental illness, and criminal justice. Although a well-established correlation between mental illness and homelessness has emerged, a better understanding of how this may be mediated by other prominent risk factors such as substance use or victimization is warranted. The current study uses data obtained from 3,673 recently booked arrestees to examine these relationships. Using structural equation modeling with measured variables, the analyses indicate the relationship between mental health and homelessness to be almost entirely mediated by alcohol use, drug use, and violent victimization. Policy implications are discussed.

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Making Ends Meet After Prison

David Harding et al.
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
Former prisoners are at high risk of economic insecurity due to the challenges they face in finding employment and to the difficulties of securing and maintaining public assistance while incarcerated. This study examines the processes through which former prisoners attain economic security, examining how they meet basic material needs and achieve upward mobility over time. It draws on unique qualitative data from in-depth, unstructured interviews with a sample of former prisoners followed over a two- to three-year period to assess how subjects draw upon a combination of employment, social supports, and public benefits to make ends meet. Findings reveal considerable struggle among our subjects to meet even minimal needs for shelter and food, although economic security and stability could be attained when employment or public benefits were coupled with familial social support. Sustained economic security was rarely achieved absent either strong social support or access to long-term public benefits. However, a select few were able to leverage material support and social networks into trajectories of upward mobility and economic independence. Policy implications are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sure things

Do Private Equity Returns Result from Wealth Transfers and Short-Termism? Evidence from a Comprehensive Sample of Large Buyouts

Jarrad Harford & Adam Kolasinski
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We test whether the well-documented high returns of private equity sponsors result from wealth transfers from other financial claimants and counterparties and from a focus on short-term profits at the expense of long-term value. Debt investors who finance buyouts, as well as buyers of private equity portfolio companies, represent the two potential sources of wealth transfers. However, we find that, on average, public companies benefit when they buy financial sponsors' portfolio companies, experiencing positive abnormal returns upon the announcement of the acquisition and long-run posttransaction abnormal returns indistinguishable from zero. We further find that large portfolio company payouts to private equity on average have no relation to future portfolio company distress, suggesting that debt investors are not suffering systematic wealth losses either. However, we find some evidence of wealth transfers from both strategic buyers and debt investors in some special situations. Finally, we find that portfolio companies invest no differently than a matched sample of public control firms, even when they are not profitable, an observation inconsistent with short-termism.

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Buffett's Alpha

Andrea Frazzini, David Kabiller & Lasse Pedersen
NBER Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
Berkshire Hathaway has realized a Sharpe ratio of 0.76, higher than any other stock or mutual fund with a history of more than 30 years, and Berkshire has a significant alpha to traditional risk factors. However, we find that the alpha becomes insignificant when controlling for exposures to Betting-Against-Beta and Quality-Minus-Junk factors. Further, we estimate that Buffett’s leverage is about 1.6-to-1 on average. Buffett’s returns appear to be neither luck nor magic, but, rather, reward for the use of leverage combined with a focus on cheap, safe, quality stocks. Decomposing Berkshires’ portfolio into ownership in publicly traded stocks versus wholly-owned private companies, we find that the former performs the best, suggesting that Buffett’s returns are more due to stock selection than to his effect on management. These results have broad implications for market efficiency and the implementability of academic factors.

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The Price of Purity: Brokerage as Consecration in the Market for Modern Art

Fabien Accominotti
Columbia University Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
This article proposes a structural approach to consecration, and uses this approach to solve an empirical puzzle in the sociology of markets. Markets for novel and unique goods are often seen as privileged settings for the powerful influence of market intermediaries. Yet economic sociologists have repeatedly failed to observe any impact of art market brokers on the value of the artists they distribute. This puzzling finding, I argue, arises from a misconception of what brokerage does to economic products. While market intermediation is usually thought to act through two social processes of valuation – certification, or the signaling of underlying quality, and qualification, or the establishment of specific quality criteria – I suggest that it also influences value through consecration, or the conferral of relational purity. This approach fills a gap in economic sociology, which lacks a distinct definition of consecration. It also suggests a network-based strategy for capturing consecration empirically. I finally show that brokerage as consecration, not certification or qualification, is indeed how art market intermediaries shape the value of their artists. The empirical focus is on the market for modern art in early twentieth-century Paris – a setting chosen both for its historical significance and its ability to magnify how markets, as social environments, bear on the economic worth of things.

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Bid Takers or Market Makers? The Effect of Auctioneers on Auction Outcomes

Nicola Lacetera et al.
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
A large body of research has explored the importance of auction design and information structure for auction outcomes. Much less work has considered the importance of the auction process. For example, in many auctions, auctioneers are present and can impact the process of the auction by varying starting prices, level of price adjustments, the speed of the auction, the way they interact with auction participants, or their characteristic chant that is intended to excite buyers. We explore the importance of auction process by testing whether auctioneers can have a systematic difference on auction outcomes. We analyze more than 850,000 wholesale used car auctions and find large and significant differences in outcomes (probability of sale, price, and auction speed) across auctioneers. The performance heterogeneities are stable across time and correlate with subjective evaluations of auctioneers provided by the auction house. Although the available data here do not allow us to conclusively isolate mechanisms, a range of evidence suggests a role for tactics that generate excitement among bidders. Overall, these findings illustrate the complexities of auction environments and how outcomes can be impacted by subtle changes in process.

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Does Price Influence Assessment of Fundamental Value? Experimental Evidence

Sylvain Marsat & Benjamin Williams
Journal of Behavioral Finance, Fall 2013, Pages 268-275

Abstract:
Assessing the fundamental value of a firm is a difficult task. Theoretically, the market price is exogenous and should not be used in the estimation. We performed a simple experiment to pinpoint whether price is used in fundamental value calculation. Subjects were given similar information on a firm. In the first/control situation, no price was submitted. In the second situation, the actual price was submitted to them. In the third one, a manipulated, overvalued price was provided. We find that the price provided proves to have a clear impact on the subjects’ estimations. This is consistent with the anchoring-and-adjustment hypothesis of fundamental assessment and has implications for a better understanding of financial bubbles.

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To See is To Believe: Common Expectations in Experimental Asset Markets

Stephen Cheung, Morten Hedegaard & Stefan Palan
European Economic Review, February 2014, Pages 84–96

Abstract:
We experimentally manipulate agents' information regarding the rationality of others in a setting in which previous studies have found irrationality to be present, namely the asset market experiments introduced by Smith et al. (1988). Recent studies suggest that mispricing in such markets may be an artefact of confusion, which can be reduced by training subjects to understand the diminishing fundamental value. We reconsider this view, and propose that when it is made public knowledge that training has occurred, this may also reduce uncertainty over the behavior of others and facilitate the formation of common expectations. Our design disentangles the direct effect of training from the indirect effect of its public knowledge, and our results demonstrate a distinct and statistically significant effect of public knowledge over and above that of training alone.

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Do option-like incentives induce overvaluation? Evidence from experimental asset markets

Martin Holmen, Michael Kirchler & Daniel Kleinlercher
Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, forthcoming

Abstract:
One potential reason for bubbles evolving prior to the financial crisis was excessive risk taking stemming from option-like incentive schemes in financial institutions. By running laboratory asset markets, we investigate the impact of option-like incentives on price formation and trading behavior. The main results are that (i) we observe significantly higher market prices with option-like incentives than linear incentives. (ii) We further find that option-like incentives provoke subjects to behave differently and to take more risk than subjects with linear incentives. (iii) We finally show that trading at inflated prices is rational for subjects with option-like incentives since it increases their expected payout.

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Working on the Weekend: Do Analysts Strategically Time the Release of Their Recommendation Revisions?

Lynn Rees, Nathan Sharp & Paul Wong
Texas A&M University Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
We examine whether financial analysts strategically time the announcement of their recommendation revisions to maintain relations with management. We find that analysts are more likely to issue downgrades than upgrades on the weekend, and that downgrades are a higher proportion of weekend revisions than weekday revisions. When we examine analysts’ incentives further, we find that analysts with Institutional Investor Allstar status, analysts employed at large brokerage houses, and analysts whose employers provide underwriting services are all more likely to downgrade stocks on the weekends than their counterparts, suggesting analysts with strong incentives to maintain favor with management are more likely to exhibit strategic timing of their recommendations. Finally, we provide evidence that the market reaction is less negative to downgrades issued on weekends compared to downgrades issued on weekdays, and that analysts who downgrade stocks on the weekend are more likely to move up in II Allstar rankings in the period following their strategic behavior.

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Bidder Country Characteristics and Informed Trading in U.S. Targets

Jeff Madura & Marek Marciniak
Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, forthcoming

Abstract:
Information leakages experienced by U.S. targets in the pre-bid period are especially pronounced when they involve foreign bidders whose countries have weak insider trading sanctions, are perceived to have prevalent insider trading activity, have a low level of local merger activity, and are not classified as common law countries. Among foreign countries, information leakages are less pronounced when the bidder's government has a cooperative agreement with the SEC. Enforcement cooperation agreements signed between the SEC and foreign regulators serve as an effective means of enforcing the stricter U.S. insider trading laws on a more global scale.

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Have Financial Markets Become More Informative?

Jennie Bai, Thomas Philippon & Alexi Savov
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
The finance industry has grown, financial markets have become more liquid, and information technology allows arbitrageurs to trade faster than ever. But have market prices then become more informative? We use stock and bond prices to forecast earnings and find that the information content of market prices has not improved since 1960. We use a model with information acquisition and investment to link financial development, price informativeness, and allocational efficiency. As information costs fall, the predictable component of future earnings should rise and hence improve capital allocation and welfare. We find that this component has remained stable over the past 50 years. When we decompose price informativeness into real price efficiency and forecasting price efficiency, we find that both have remained stable.

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Opaque Trading, Disclosure, and Asset Prices: Implications for Hedge Fund Regulation

David Easley, Maureen O'Hara & Liyan Yang
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the effect of ambiguity about hedge fund investment strategies on asset prices and aggregate welfare. We model some traders (mutual funds) as facing ambiguity about the equilibrium trading strategies of other traders (hedge funds). This ambiguity limits the ability of mutual funds to infer information from prices and has negative effects on market outcomes. We use this analysis to investigate the implications of regulations that affect disclosure requirements of hedge funds or the cost of operating a hedge fund. Our analysis demonstrates how regulations affect asset prices and welfare through their influence on opaque trading.

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Private Interaction Between Firm Management and Sell-Side Analysts

Eugene Soltes
Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although sell-side analysts often privately interact with managers of publicly traded firms, the private nature of this contact has historically obscured direct examination. By examining a set of proprietary records compiled by a large-cap NYSE traded firm, I offer insights into which analysts privately meet with management, when analysts privately interact with management, and why these interactions occur. I also compare private interaction to public interaction between analysts and managers on conference calls. The evidence suggests that private interaction with management is an important communication channel for analysts for reasons other than firm-specific forecasting news.

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Competition, Endogeneity and the Winning Bid: An Empirical Analysis of eBay auctions

Ilke Onur & Malathi Velamuri
Information Economics and Policy, March 2014, Pages 68–74

Abstract:
Using a dataset of Texas Instruments (TI) calculator auctions on eBay, we estimate the impact of the number of bidders on the winning bid. We highlight the possible endogeneity associated with using the number of observed bidders. We tackle this problem by employing approaches involving instrumental variables. We introduce a novel instrumental variable, the closing interval between successive auctions. Estimates from the two-stage least squares (2SLS) regression are over 3 times those from an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression.

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Media-Driven High Frequency Trading: Evidence from News Analytics

Bastian Von Beschwitz, Donald Keim & Massimo Massa
INSEAD Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
We investigate whether providers of high frequency media analytics affect the stock market. This question is difficult to answer as the response to news analytics usually cannot be distinguished from the reaction to the news itself. We exploit a unique experiment based on differences in news event classifications between different product releases of a major provider of news analytics for algorithmic traders. Comparing the market reaction to similar news items depending on whether the news has been released to customers or not, we are able to determine the causal effect of news analytics on stock prices, irrespective of the informational content of the news. We show that coverage in news analytics speeds up the market reaction by both increasing the stock price update and the trading volume in the first few seconds after the news event. Such coverage also increases prices if the content of the news is positive. Placebo tests and econometric robustness checks, either based on difference-in-difference specifications or different samples, confirm the results. The fact that a provider of media analytics impacts the market in a separate and distinct way from the underlying information content of the news has important normative implications for the regulatory debate.

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Fund Manager Allocation

Jieyan Fang, Alexander Kempf & Monika Trapp
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We show that fund families allocate their most skilled managers to market segments in which manager skill is rewarded best. In efficient markets, even skilled managers cannot generate excess returns. In less efficient markets, skilled managers can exploit inefficiencies and generate higher performance than unskilled managers. Fund families seem to be aware of the relation between skill, efficiency, and performance, and allocate more skilled managers to inefficient markets. They pursue this strategy when hiring new fund managers and when reassigning managers to funds within the family. Overall, we conclude that fund families allocate fund managers in an efficient way.

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Can Analysts Analyze Mergers?

Hassan Tehranian, Mengxing Zhao & Julie Zhu
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
After the completion of a merger and acquisition (M&A) transaction, the target firm is delisted, but some analysts who covered it retain coverage of the merged firm. We hypothesize that this decision is based on two factors: the analyst's ability to cover the merged firm and his or her assessment of the M&A deal. Consistent with these hypotheses, we find that the remaining target analysts provide more accurate earnings forecasts and more optimistic stock recommendations and growth forecasts for the merged firms than do the remaining acquirer analysts. We also find that a higher percentage of target analysts choosing to cover the merged firm is associated with better operating and long-term stock performance of that firm, but we do not find this relation with acquirer analysts. Our results extend the literature by showing that target analysts' coverage decisions reveal valuable information about a merged firm's future performance.

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Is Sell-Side Research More Valuable in Bad Times?

Roger Loh & René Stulz
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
In bad times, uncertainty is high, so that investors find it more difficult to assess the prospects of the firms they invest in. Learning models suggest that in such times investors should, everything else equal, value informative signals such as analyst forecasts and recommendations more than in good times. However, the higher uncertainty in bad times and career concerns stemming from troubled employers may make the task of analysts harder, so that analyst output is noisier and hence less valuable in bad times. Consequently, whether analyst forecasts and recommendations are more valuable during bad times is an empirical matter. We examine a large sample of analyst output from 1983 to 2011. We find that analysts work harder in bad times, but their earnings forecasts accuracy is worse and that they disagree more. Despite more inaccurate earnings forecasts, revisions to earnings forecasts and stock recommendations have a more influential stock-price impact during bad times as predicted by a learning model.

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Expectations of Returns and Expected Returns

Robin Greenwood & Andrei Shleifer
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We analyze time series of investor expectations of future stock market returns from six data sources between 1963 and 2011. The six measures of expectations are highly positively correlated with each other, as well as with past stock returns and with the level of the stock market. However, investor expectations are strongly negatively correlated with model-based expected returns. The evidence is not consistent with rational expectations representative investor models of returns.

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Market Reaction to Corporate Press Releases

Andreas Neuhierl, Anna Scherbina & Bernd Schlusche
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, August 2013, Pages 1207-1240

Abstract:

We classify a unique and comprehensive dataset of corporate press releases into topics and study the market reaction to various types of news. While confirming prior findings regarding strong stock price responses to financial news, we also document significant reactions to news about corporate strategy, customers and partners, products and services, management changes, and legal developments. Consistent with regulators' expectations, the level of informational asymmetry in the market declines following most types of press releases. At the same time, return volatility frequently increases in the post-announcement period, which we show can be attributed to higher levels of valuation uncertainty.

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The evolution of capital structure and operating performance after leveraged buyouts: Evidence from U.S. corporate tax returns

Jonathan Cohn, Lillian Mills & Erin Towery
Journal of Financial Economics, February 2014, Pages 469–494

Abstract:
This study uses corporate tax return data to examine the evolution of firms' financial structure and performance after leveraged buyouts (LBOs) for a comprehensive sample of 317 LBOs taking place between 1995 and 2007. We find little evidence of operating improvements subsequent to an LBO, although consistent with prior studies, we do observe operating improvements in the set of LBO firms that have public financial statements. We also find that firms do not reduce leverage after LBOs, even if they generate excess cash flow. Our results suggest that effecting a sustained change in capital structure is a conscious objective of the LBO structure.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sick and twisted

Is This Time Different? The Slowdown in Healthcare Spending

Amitabh Chandra, Jonathan Holmes & Jonathan Skinner
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
Why have health care costs moderated in the last decade? Some have suggested the Great Recession alone was the cause, but health expenditure growth in the depths of the recession was nearly identical to growth prior to the recession. Nor can the Affordable Care Act (ACA) can take credit, since the slowdown began prior to its implementation. Instead, we identify three primary causes of the slowdown: the rise in high-deductible insurance plans, state-level efforts to control Medicaid costs, and a general slowdown in the diffusion of new technology, particularly in the Medicare population. A more difficult question is: Will this slowdown continue? Here we are more pessimistic, and not entirely because a similar (and temporary) slowdown occurred in the early 1990s. The primary determinant of long-term growth is the continued development of expensive technology, and there is little evidence of a permanent slowdown in the technology pipeline. Proton beam accelerators are on target to double between 2010 and 2014, while the market for heart-assist devices (costing more than $300,000) is projected to grow rapidly. Accountable care organizations (ACOs) and emboldened insurance companies may yet stifle health care cost growth, but our best estimate over the next two decades is that health care costs will grow at GDP plus 1.2 percent; lower than previous estimates but still on track to cause serious fiscal pain for taxpayers and workers who bear the costs of higher premiums.

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Health and Financial Fragility: Evidence from Car Crashes and Consumer Bankruptcy

Edward Morrison et al.
University of Chicago Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
This paper assesses the importance of adverse health shocks as triggers of bankruptcy filings. We view car crashes as a proxy for health shocks and draw on a large sample of police crash reports linked to hospital admission records and bankruptcy case files. We report two findings: (i) there is a strong positive correlation between an individual's pre-shock financial condition and his or her likelihood of suffering a health shock, an example of behavioral consistency; and (ii) after accounting for this simultaneity, we are unable to identify a causal effect of health shocks on bankruptcy filing rates. These findings emphasize the importance of risk heterogeneity in determining financial fragility, raise questions about prior studies of "medical bankruptcy," and point to important challenges in identifying the triggers of consumer bankruptcy.

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Can Consumers Make Affordable Care Affordable? The Value of Choice Architecture

Eric Johnson et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2013

Abstract:
Tens of millions of people are currently choosing health coverage on a state or federal health insurance exchange as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We examine how well people make these choices, how well they think they do, and what can be done to improve these choices. We conducted 6 experiments asking people to choose the most cost-effective policy using websites modeled on current exchanges. Our results suggest there is significant room for improvement. Without interventions, respondents perform at near chance levels and show a significant bias, overweighting out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles. Financial incentives do not improve performance, and decision-makers do not realize that they are performing poorly. However, performance can be improved quite markedly by providing calculation aids, and by choosing a "smart" default. Implementing these psychologically based principles could save purchasers of policies and taxpayers approximately 10 billion dollars every year.

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Wedges, Wages, and Productivity under the Affordable Care Act

Casey Mulligan & Trevor Gallen
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
Our paper documents the large labor market wedges created by taxes, subsidies, and regulations included in the Affordable Care Act. The law changes terms of trade in both goods and factor markets for firms offering health insurance coverage. We use a multi-sector (intra-national) trade model to predict and quantify consequences of the Affordable Care Act for the patterns of output, labor usage, and employee compensation. We find that the law will significantly redistribute from high-wage workers to low-wage workers and to non-workers, reduce total factor productivity about one percent, reduce per-capita labor hours about three percent (especially among low-skill workers), reduce output per capita about two percent, and reduce employment less for sectors that ultimately pay employer penalties.

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Wedges, Labor Market Behavior, and Health Insurance Coverage under the Affordable Care Act

Trevor Gallen & Casey Mulligan
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
The Affordable Care Act's taxes, subsidies, and regulations significantly alter terms of trade in both goods and factor markets. We use a multi-sector (intra-national) trade model to predict and quantify consequences of the Affordable Care Act for the incidence of health insurance coverage and patterns of labor usage. If and when the new exchange plans are competitive with employer-sponsored insurance (ESI), our model suggests that more than 20 million people will leave ESI as a consequence of the law. Behavioral changes that are captured in the model could add about 3 million participants to the new exchange plans: beyond those that would participate solely as the result of employer decisions to stop offering coverage and beyond those who would have been uninsured. Industries and regions will grow, decline, and change coverage on the basis of their relative demand for skilled labor.

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"Simply un-American": Nativism and Support for Health Care Reform

Benjamin Knoll & Jordan Shewmaker
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study investigates the relationship between individual-level support for the 2010 Affordable Care Act and nativism, the perception that a traditional American culture and way of life needs to be protected against foreign influence. The results of an analysis of a 2011 public opinion survey demonstrate that nativism was an independent and significant predictor of opposition to health care reform and that this effect held for both Republicans as well as Democrats, although the relationship is stronger for Republicans. This is substantively important for two reasons. First, it demonstrates that certain sub-groups of the American public evaluate public policy proposals on the basis of their perceived "foreignness." Second, it demonstrates that while nativism is traditionally associated with immigration and other race/ethnic-based policy preferences, it also affects attitudes toward other seemingly race-neutral policies in the United States.

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Moving For Medicaid? Recent Eligibility Expansions Did Not Induce Migration From Other States

Aaron Schwartz & Benjamin Sommers
Health Affairs, January 2014, Pages 88-94

Abstract:
Starting in 2014, many low-income adult residents of states that forgo the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid would be eligible for that program if they moved to a state that had chosen to expand its coverage. Some of these people may migrate to receive coverage, thereby increasing costs for states that have expanded the program. This is known as the "welfare magnet" hypothesis, a claim that geographic variation in social programs induces the migration of welfare recipients to places with more generous benefits or eligibility. To investigate whether such spillover effects are likely, we used data from the Current Population Survey to examine the migration patterns of low-income people before and after recent expansions of public insurance in Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. Using difference-in-differences analysis of migration in expansion and control states, we found no evidence of significant migration effects. Our preferred estimate was precise enough to rule out net migration effects of larger than 1,600 people per year in an expansion state. These results suggest that migration will not be a common way for people to obtain Medicaid coverage under the current expansion and that interstate migration is not likely to be a significant source of costs for states choosing to expand their programs.

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Who Really Pays for Medicaid: Intended and Unintended Consequences of the Matching Grant

Kathleen Adams, Patricia Ketsche & Karen Minyard
Public Finance Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The goal of the Medicaid intergovernmental matching grant is to stimulate state spending while achieving some level of beneficiary and taxpayer equity. This study uses the Current Population Survey data on 174,031 families to estimate federal and state Medicaid tax burdens per family, net of tax exporting. Of the total US$305 billion spent on Medicaid in 2004, US$29.9 billion is redistributed through the grant's Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, as residents of low-income states export federal tax burdens to higher-income states. Another US$4.5 billion in state taxes is exported via business flows and tourism with the bulk, US$3.2 billion, being exported internationally. Some states pay as little as US$.55 in "own" tax revenues while residents in states importing the burden pay up to US$1.86, for every US$1 spent on Medicaid. Since virtually all states have regressive tax structures, it is federal Medicaid funding that helps maintain vertical equity overall.

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First, Do No Harm: Financial Conflicts in Medicine

Joseph Engelberg, Christopher Parsons & Nathan Tefft
University of California Working Paper, August 2013

Abstract:
We explore financial conflicts of interest faced by doctors. Pharmaceutical firms frequently pay physicians in the form of meals, travel, and speaking fees. Over half of the 334,000 physicians in our sample receive payment of some kind. When a doctor is paid, we find that he is more likely to prescribe a drug of the paying firm, both relative to close substitutes and even generic versions of the same drug. This payment-for-prescription effect scales with transfer size, although doctors receiving only small and/or infrequent payments are also affected. The pattern holds in nearly every U.S. state, but it is strongly and positively related to regional measures of corruption.

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Externalities and Taxation of Supplemental Insurance: A Study of Medicare and Medigap

Marika Cabral & Neale Mahoney
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Most health insurance policies use cost-sharing to reduce excess utilization. The purchase of supplemental insurance can blunt the impact of this cost-sharing, potentially increasing utilization and exerting a negative externality on the primary insurance provider. This paper estimates the effect of private Medigap supplemental insurance on public Medicare spending using Medigap premium discontinuities in local medical markets that span state boundaries. Using administrative data on the universe of Medicare beneficiaries, we estimate that Medigap increases an individual's Medicare spending by 22.2%. We find that the take-up of Medigap is price sensitive with an estimated demand elasticity of -1.8. Using these estimates, we calculate that a 15% tax on Medigap premiums would generate combined tax revenue and cost savings of $12.9 billion annually. A Pigouvian tax would generate combined annual savings of $31.6 billion.

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The Effects of Health Information Technology on the Costs and Quality of Medical Care

Leila Agha
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Information technology has been linked to productivity growth in a wide variety of sectors, and health information technology (HIT) is a leading example of an innovation with the potential to transform industry-wide productivity. This paper analyzes the impact of health information technology (HIT) on the quality and intensity of medical care. Using Medicare claims data from 1998-2005, I estimate the effects of early investment in HIT by exploiting variation in hospitals' adoption statuses over time, analyzing 2.5 million inpatient admissions across 3900 hospitals. HIT is associated with a 1.3 percent increase in billed charges (p-value: 5.6%), and there is no evidence of cost savings even five years after adoption. Additionally, HIT adoption appears to have little impact on the quality of care, measured by patient mortality, adverse drug events, and readmission rates.

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The Effect of U.S. Health Insurance Expansions on Medical Innovation

Jeffrey Clemens
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
I study the channels through which health insurance influences medical innovation. Following Medicare and Medicaid's passage, I find that U.S.-based medical-equipment patenting rose by 40 to 50 percent relative to both other U.S. patenting and foreign medical-equipment patenting. Within the United States, increases in medical-equipment patenting were most dramatic in states where the Great Society insurance expansions were largest and in which there were large baseline numbers of physicians per resident. Consistent with historical case studies, Medical innovation's determinants extend beyond the potential revenues associated with global market size; a physician driven process of innovation-while-doing appears to play a central role. An extrapolation of the evidence suggests that the last half century's U.S. insurance expansions have driven 25 percent of recent global medical-equipment innovation. In a standard decomposition of health spending growth, this insurance-induced innovation accounts for 15 percent of the long run rise in U.S. health spending in hospitals, physicians' offices, and other clinical settings.

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Increased Speed Equals Increased Wait: The Impact of a Reduction in Emergency Department Ultrasound Order Processing Time

Jillian Berry Jaeker, Anita Tucker & Michael Lee
Harvard Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
We exploit an exogenous process change at two emergency departments (EDs) within a health system to test the theory that increasing capacity in a discretionary work setting increases wait times due to additional services being provided to customers as a consequence of reduced marginal costs for a task. We find that an increase in physicians' capacity for ordering ultrasounds (U/S) resulted in an 11.5 percentage point increase in the probability of an U/S being ordered, confirming that resource availability induces demand. Furthermore, we find that the additional U/S demand increased the time to return other radiological tests due to the higher demand placed on radiologists from the additional U/S. Consequently, the average length of stay (LOS) for patients with an abdominal complaint increased by nearly 30 minutes, and the waiting time to enter the ED increased by 26 minutes. We do not find any indications of improved performance on clinical metrics, with no statistical change in the number of admissions to the hospital or readmissions to the ED within 72 hours. Our study highlights an important lesson for process improvement in interdependent service settings: increasing process capacity at one step in the process can increase demand at that step, as well as for a subsequent shared service, and both can result in an overall negative impact on performance.

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Employer Contribution and Premium Growth in Health Insurance

Yiyan Liu & Ginger Zhe Jin
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
We study whether employer premium contribution schemes could impact the pricing behavior of health plans and contribute to rising premiums. Using 1991-2011 data before and after a 1999 premium subsidy policy change in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), we find that the employer premium contribution scheme has a differential impact on health plan pricing based on two market incentives: 1) consumers are less price sensitive when they only need to pay part of the premium increase, and 2) each health plan has an incentive to increase the employer's premium contribution to that plan. Both incentives are found to contribute to premium growth. Counterfactual simulation shows that average premium would have been 10% less than observed and the federal government would have saved 15% per year on its premium contribution had the subsidy policy change not occurred in the FEHBP.

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Competition and the Impact of Online Hospital Report Cards

Shin-Yi Chou et al.
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Information on the quality of healthcare gives providers an incentive to improve care, and this incentive should be stronger in more competitive markets. We examine this hypothesis by studying Pennsylvanian hospitals during the years 1995-2004 to see whether those hospitals located in more competitive markets increased the quality of the care provided to Medicare patients after report cards rating the quality of their Coronary Artery Bypass Graft programs went online in 1998. We find that after the report cards went online, hospitals in more competitive markets used more resources per patient, and achieved lower mortality among more severely-ill patients.

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Greatest Impact Of Safe Harbor Rule May Be To Improve Patient Safety, Not Reduce Liability Claims Paid By Physicians

Allen Kachalia et al.
Health Affairs, January 2014, Pages 59-66

Abstract:
"Safe harbor" legislation that provides liability protection to physicians when they follow designated guidelines is often proposed as a way to reform the malpractice system while improving patient safety. However, published evidence provides little policy guidance on implementing safe harbors. With the support of an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality planning grant, we conducted an empirical analysis of closed liability claims in Oregon to determine the potential effects of hypothetical safe harbor legislation. We found that such legislation would have changed the liability outcome in favor of the physician defendant in only 1 percent of 266 claims from the period 2002-09 that we reviewed. Nevertheless, if safe harbors can induce greater physician adherence to care guidelines, they have the potential to improve patient safety. Implementing safe harbor legislation, however, requires overcoming a number of hurdles, including selecting and updating approved guidelines, obtaining broad stakeholder support, and withstanding challenges to the legal validity of the legislation. More experimentation with safe harbors is needed to determine their effects on the performance of the liability system and on health care quality and costs.

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Medicaid Increases Emergency-Department Use: Evidence from Oregon's Health Insurance Experiment

Sarah Taubman et al.
Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 2008, Oregon initiated a limited expansion of a Medicaid program for uninsured, low-income adults, drawing names from a waiting list by lottery. This lottery created a rare opportunity to study the effects of Medicaid coverage using a randomized controlled design. Using the randomization provided by the lottery and emergency-department records from Portland-area hospitals, we study the emergency-department use of about 25,000 lottery participants over approximately 18 months after the lottery. We find that Medicaid coverage significantly increases overall emergency use by 0.41 visits per person, or 40 percent relative to an average of 1.02 visits per person in the control group. We find increases in emergency-department visits across a broad range of types of visits, conditions, and subgroups, including increases in visits for conditions that may be most readily treatable in primary care settings.

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Impact of Universal Health Insurance Coverage on Hypertension Management: A Cross-National Study in the United States and England

Andrew Dalton et al.
PLoS ONE, January 2014

Background: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) galvanised debate in the United States (US) over universal health coverage. Comparison with countries providing universal coverage may illustrate whether the ACA can improve health outcomes and reduce disparities. We aimed to compare quality and disparities in hypertension management by socio-economic position in the US and England, the latter of which has universal health care.

Method: We used data from the Health and Retirement Survey in the US, and the English Longitudinal Study for Aging from England, including non-Hispanic White respondents aged 50-64 years (US market-based v NHS) and >65 years (US-Medicare v NHS) with diagnosed hypertension. We compared blood pressure control to clinical guideline (140/90 mmHg) and audit (150/90 mmHg) targets; mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure and antihypertensive prescribing, and disparities in each by educational attainment, income and wealth, using regression models.

Results: There were no significant differences in aggregate achievement of clinical targets aged 50 to 65 years (US market-based vs. NHS- 62.3% vs. 61.3% [p = 0.835]). There was, however, greater control in the US in patients aged 65 years and over (US Medicare vs. NHS- 53.5% vs. 58.2% [p = 0.043]). England had no significant socioeconomic disparity in blood pressure control (60.9% vs. 63.5% [p = 0.588], high and low wealth aged ?65 years). The US had socioeconomic differences in the 50-64 years group (71.7% vs. 55.2% [p = 0.003], high and low wealth); these were attenuated but not abolished in Medicare beneficiaries.

Conclusion: Moves towards universal health coverage in the US may reduce disparities in hypertension management. The current situation, providing universal coverage for residents aged 65 years and over, may not be sufficient for equality in care.

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Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program: An Economic and Operational Analysis

Dennis Zhang et al.
Northwestern University Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
The Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP), a part of the US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to penalize payments to hospitals with excess readmissions. We take an economic and operational (patient flow) perspective to ask a simple question: assuming that hospitals are self-interested operating-margin maximizers and are strategically forward-looking, does the structure of the HRRP policy provide economic incentives to all hospitals to reduce readmissions? If not, which hospitals are left behind, and what are the challenges? Since hospitals are bench-marked against their peers under the policy, we use a game-theoretical model to describe hospitals' behavior. While the game is complex, we develop bounds on equilibria that provide insights into the effectiveness of the HRRP policy. We calibrate our model with a dataset of hospitals in California. Our model suggests that in the long term, a significant proportion of hospitals will prefer to pay penalties rather than reduce readmissions. For a broad range of parameters, we find that the policy may be ineffective in inducing some hospitals to reduce readmissions: these are hospitals that either (i) are located in sparsely served areas, (ii) have a low fraction of revenue coming from Medicare, (iii) have currently high readmission rates, or (iv) have a high contribution margin per patient. We also examine the effect of certain changes to the HRRP policy.

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Survey Finds Few Orthopedic Surgeons Know The Costs Of The Devices They Implant

Kanu Okike et al.
Health Affairs, January 2014, Pages 103-109

Abstract:
Orthopedic procedures represent a large expense to the Medicare program, and costs of implantable medical devices account for a large proportion of those procedures' costs. Physicians have been encouraged to consider cost in the selection of devices, but several factors make acquiring cost information difficult. To assess physicians' levels of knowledge about costs, we asked orthopedic attending physicians and residents at seven academic medical centers to estimate the costs of thirteen commonly used orthopedic devices between December 2012 and March 2013. The actual cost of each device was determined at each institution; estimates within 20 percent of the actual cost were considered correct. Among the 503 physicians who completed our survey, attending physicians correctly estimated the cost of the device 21 percent of the time, and residents did so 17 percent of the time. Thirty-six percent of physicians and 75 percent of residents rated their knowledge of device costs "below average" or "poor." However, more than 80 percent of all respondents indicated that cost should be "moderately," "very," or "extremely" important in the device selection process. Surgeons need increased access to information on the relative prices of devices and should be incentivized to participate in cost containment efforts.

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Effects of Occupational Regulations On The Cost Of Dental Services: Evidence From Dental Insurance Claims

Coady Wing & Allison Marier
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the United States, occupational regulations influence the work tasks that may legally be performed by dentists and dental hygienists. Only a dentist may legally perform most dental procedures; however, a smaller list of basic procedures may be provided by either a dentist or a dental hygienist. Since dentists and hygienists possess different levels of training and skill and receive very different wages, it is plausible that these regulations could distort the optimal allocation of skills to work tasks. We present simple theoretical framework that shows different ways that such regulations might affect the way that dentists and dental hygienists are used in the production of dental services. We then use a large database of dental insurance claims to study the effects of the regulations on the prevailing prices of a set of basic dental services. Our empirical analysis exploits variation across states and over time in the list of services that may be provided by either type of worker. Our main results suggest that the task-specific occupational regulations increase prices by about 12%. We also examine the effects of related occupational regulations on the utilization of basic dental services. We find that allowing insurers to directly reimburse hygienists for their work increases one year utilization rates by 3 to 4 percentage points.

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Expanding Federal Funding to Community Health Centers Slows Decline in Access for Low-Income Adults

Stacey McMorrow & Stephen Zuckerman
Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To identify the impact of the Health Center Growth Initiative on access to care for low-income adults.

Data Sources: Data on federal funding for health centers are from the Bureau of Primary Health Care's Uniform Data System (2000-2007), and individual-level measures of access and use are derived from the National Health Interview Survey (2001-2008).

Study Design: We estimate person-level models of access and use as a function of individual- and market-level characteristics. By using market-level fixed effects, we identify the effects of health center funding on access using changes within markets over time. We explore effects on low-income adults and further examine how those effects vary by insurance coverage.

Data Collection: We calculate health center funding per poor person in a health care market and attach this information to individual observations on the National Health Interview Survey. Health care markets are defined as hospital referral regions.

Principal Findings: Low-income adults in markets with larger funding increases were more likely to have an office visit and to have a general doctor visit. These results were stronger for uninsured and publicly insured adults.

Conclusions: Expansions in federal health center funding had some mitigating effects on the access declines that were generally experienced by low-income adults over this time period.

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Impact of a High-deductible Health Plan on Outpatient Visits and Associated Diagnostic Tests

Sheila Reddy et al.
Medical Care, January 2014, Pages 86-92

Background: By shifting a greater share of out-of-pocket medical costs to consumers, high-deductible health plans (HDHP) might discourage use of essential outpatient services.

Objective: The objective of the study was to examine the impact of an HDHP on outpatient visits and associated laboratory and radiology tests.

Research Design/Subjects: We used a pre-post with comparison group study design to examine the differential change in outpatient service utilization among 7953 adults who were switched from a traditional Health Maintenance Organization plan to an HDHP compared with 7953 adults remaining in traditional plans. HDHP members had full coverage of preventive laboratory tests and modest copayments for outpatient visits, similar to controls, but faced full cost sharing under the deductible for radiology tests and laboratory tests not classified as preventive.

Results: Compared with controls, the HDHP group experienced moderate relative decreases in overall office visits (incidence rate ratios=0.91, or a 9% relative reduction; 95% confidence interval: 0.88, 0.94) and visits for higher-priority (0.91; 0.85, 0.97) and lower-priority (0.89; 0.81, 0.99) chronic conditions. There were no significant differences in changes in visit rates for acute higher-priority or lower-priority conditions (both 0.93; 0.86, 1.01) or preventive laboratory tests (0.97; 0.93, 1.02). HDHP members showed moderate relative reductions in the use of general laboratory tests (0.91; 0.86, 0.97) but not radiology tests (0.97; 0.91, 1.03).

Conclusions: Chronic outpatient visits declined among HDHP members, although preventive laboratory tests and acute visits remained unchanged. HDHP patients with chronic illnesses who have more contact with the health care system might be more likely to reduce utilization because of increased exposure to costs associated with ambulatory visits.

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Cancer spending and accountable care organizations: Evidence from the Physician Group Practice Demonstration

Carrie Colla et al.
Healthcare, December 2013, Pages 100-107

Background: Although accountable care organizations (ACOs) are rapidly being deployed in Medicare, little is known about how the model might affect high-risk, high cost groups such as cancer patients. The Physician Group Practice Demonstration, which ran from 2005 to 2010 in 10 physician groups, provides the best current evidence on the likely effectiveness of accountable care organizations for Medicare beneficiaries. Changes in cancer treatment and spending under this program may be indicative of cancer treatment under ACO payment reform.

Methods: Using Medicare fee-for-service claims data, regression analysis was used to estimate changes in payments for cancer patients using a difference-in-difference design comparing pre- (2001-2004) and post-intervention (2005-2009) trends in spending on cancer patients in PGPD participants to local control groups.

Results: Regression models indicate the Physician Group Practice Demonstration was associated with average Medicare spending reductions per cancer patient of $721 annually across participating sites, an annual 3.9% reduction in payments per patient. Savings derived entirely from reductions in acute care payments for inpatient stays. The Demonstration was also associated with a reduction in mortality among cancer patients. There was no significant change in the proportion of deaths occurring in the hospital. There were significant reductions in hospice use, hospital discharges and ICU days, but no reductions in cancer-specific procedures or chemotherapy. Estimates of all measures varied considerably across participating sites.

Conclusions: The Physician Group Practice Demonstration was associated with reductions in admissions for inpatient care among beneficiaries with prevalent cancer, with no adverse effect on mortality. Participants in the Physician Group Practice Demonstration did not change the trajectory of spending for cancer-specific treatments.

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Paying physician group practices for quality: A statewide quasi-experiment

Douglas Conrad et al.
Healthcare, December 2013, Pages 108-116

Abstract:
This article presents the results of a unique quasi-experiment of the effects of a large-scale pay-for-performance (P4P) program implemented by a leading health insurer in Washington state during 2001-2007. The authors received external funding to provide an objective impact evaluation of the program. The program was unique in several respects: (1) It was designed dynamically, with two discrete intervention periods-one in which payment incentives were based on relative performance (the "contest" period) and a second in which payment incentives were based on absolute performance compared to achievable benchmarks. (2) The program was designed in collaboration with large multispecialty group practices, with an explicit run-in period to test the quality metrics. Public reporting of the quality scorecard for all participating medical groups was introduced 1 year before the quality incentive payment program's inception, and continued throughout 2002-2007. (3) The program was implemented in stages with distinct medical groups. A control group of comparable group practices also was assembled, and difference-in-differences methodology was applied to estimate program effects. Case mix measures were included in all multivariate analyses. The regression design permitted a contrast of intervention effects between the "contest" approach in the sub-period of 2003-2004 and the absolute standard, "achievable benchmarks of care" approach in sub-period 2005-2007. Most of the statistically significant quality incentive program coefficients were small and negative (opposite to program intent). A consistent pattern of differential intervention impact in the sub-periods did not emerge. Cumulatively, the probit regression estimates indicate that neither the quality scorecard nor the quality incentive payment program had a significant positive effect on general clinical quality. Based on key informant interviews with medical leaders, practicing physicians, and administrators of the participating groups, the authors conclude that several factors likely combined to dampen program effects: (1) modest size of the incentive; (2) use of rewards only, rather than a balance of rewards and penalties; (3) targeting incentive payments to the group, thus potentially weakening incentive effects at the individual level.

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The Influence of State Policy and Proximity to Medical Services on Health Outcomes

Jing Li
Journal of Urban Economics, March 2014, Pages 97-109

Abstract:
This paper examines two factors that help to explain geographic variation in health outcomes. The first factor concerns proximity to medical services. The second factor is state-specific health care policy that may impede access to nearby medical services. Four key findings are obtained. First, the effect of local doctors on reducing mortality rates of various diseases in a county attenuates with distance. Second, at approximately the same distance, in-state doctors contribute more to lowering mortality rates in the primary county than do out-of-state doctors. Third, the lesser impact of nearby out-of-state doctors is further reduced when the primary state adopts more stringent policies that restrict entry of out-of-state physicians. Fourth, the impact of nearby doctors is found to be stronger in more urbanized areas. This is consistent with agglomeration economies being effective in contributing, at least in part, to the productivity of treating patients.

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The Effect of Patient Cost Sharing on Utilization, Health, and Risk Protection

Hitoshi Shigeoka
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
This paper exploits a sharp reduction in patient cost sharing at age 70 in Japan, using a regression discontinuity design to examine its effect on utilization, health, and financial risk arising from out-of-pocket expenditures. Due to the national policy, cost sharing is 60-80 percent lower at age 70 than at age 69. I find that both outpatient and inpatient care are price sensitive among the elderly. While I find little impact on mortality and other health outcomes, the results show that reduced cost sharing is associated with lower out-of-pocket expenditures, especially at the right tail of the distribution.

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A Profitability Evaluation of America's Best Hospitals, 2000-2008

W.C. Benton
Decision Sciences, December 2013, Pages 1139-1153

Abstract:
Each year U.S. News and World Report evaluates more than 5,000 U.S. hospitals, of which approximately 3% are considered the best hospitals in America, and hospital profitability has emerged as a business objective for these hospitals. This study investigates the profitability performance of the best (highest quality) hospitals in the United States. A 9-year longitudinal investigation of profitability for the best hospitals in the United States is conducted. The results offer evidence that the primary drivers of hospital profitability are the case mix index and daily bed capacity. In terms of hospital profitability, there appears to be a tradeoff between these two factors. Finally, caution must be used when ranking U.S. News and World Report Honor Roll hospitals, in terms of profitability and performance.

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Analysis Of Hospital Production: An Output Index Approach

Martin Gaynor, Samuel Kleiner & William Vogt
Journal of Applied Econometrics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this study, we develop and implement an output index approach to the estimation of hospital cost functions that reflects the differentiated nature of hospital care. The approach combines the estimation of an output index within a flexible functional form. We find, in an application to California hospitals, evidence of scope economies across specialties within primary care, and diseconomies of scope within secondary and tertiary care. Minimum efficient scale is reached at larger levels of output than would be estimated by conventional techniques. These results indicate the importance of accounting for firm output heterogeneity when estimating cost functions.

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Hospital Teaching Intensity and Mortality for Acute Myocardial Infarction, Heart Failure, and Pneumonia

David Shahian et al.
Medical Care, January 2014, Pages 38-46

Background: Under the Affordable Care Act, health care reimbursement will increasingly be linked to quality and costs. In this environment, teaching hospitals will be closely scrutinized, as their care is often more expensive. Furthermore, although they serve vital roles in education, research, management of complex diseases, and care of vulnerable populations, debate continues as to whether teaching hospitals deliver better outcomes for common conditions.

Objective: To determine the association between risk-standardized mortality and teaching intensity for 3 common conditions.

Research Design: Using CMS models, 30-day risk-standardized mortality rates were compared among US hospitals classified as Council of Teaching Hospital (COTH) members, non-COTH teaching hospitals, or nonteaching hospitals. These analyses were repeated using ratios of interns and residents to beds to classify teaching intensity.

Subjects: The study cohort included Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged 66 years or older hospitalized in acute care hospitals during 2009-2010 for acute myocardial infarction (N=342,145), heart failure (N=647,081), or pneumonia (N=598,366).

Outcome Measure: The 30-day risk-standardized mortality rates for each condition, stratified by teaching intensity.

Results: For each diagnosis, compared with nonteaching hospitals there was a 10% relative reduction in the adjusted odds of mortality for patients admitted to COTH hospitals and a 6%-7% relative reduction for patients admitted to non-COTH teaching hospitals. These findings were insensitive to the method of classifying teaching intensity and only partially explained by higher teaching hospital volumes.

Conclusions: Health care reimbursement strategies designed to increase value should consider not only the costs but also the superior clinical outcomes at teaching hospitals for certain common conditions.

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Do Hospitals Without Physicians on the Board Deliver Lower Quality of Care?

Ge Bai & Ranjani Krishnan
American Journal of Medical Quality, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines whether hospitals without physician participation on their boards of directors deliver lower quality of care. Using data from California nonprofit hospitals from 2004 to 2008, we document that the absence of physicians on the board is associated with a decrease of 3-5 percentage points in three out of four measures of care quality. We obtain this result using regression analysis, which controls for various hospital characteristics. We also identify factors that influence quality of care in hospitals. Specifically, hospital size, church affiliation, urban location, and system affiliation are positively associated with quality of care; proportion of Medicaid patient revenue and poverty level of the county where the hospital is located are negatively associated with quality of care. These results highlight the importance of physician participation in hospital governance and indicate areas for hospitals and policy makers to focus on to enhance medical quality management.

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The Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program: Potential Unintended Consequences for Hospitals Serving Vulnerable Populations

Qian Gu et al.
Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To explore the impact of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) on hospitals serving vulnerable populations.

Data Sources/Study Setting: Medicare inpatient claims to calculate condition-specific readmission rates. Medicare cost reports and other sources to determine a hospital's share of duals, profit margin, and characteristics.

Study Design: Regression analyses and projections were used to estimate risk-adjusted readmission rates and financial penalties under the HRRP. Findings were compared across groups of hospitals, determined based on their share of duals, to assess differential impacts of the HRRP.

Principal Findings: Both patient dual-eligible status and a hospital's dual-eligible share of Medicare discharges have a positive impact on risk-adjusted hospital readmission rates. Under current Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service methodology, which does not adjust for socioeconomic status, high-dual hospitals are more likely to have excess readmissions than low-dual hospitals. As a result, HRRP penalties will disproportionately fall on high-dual hospitals, which are more likely to have negative all-payer margins, raising concerns of unintended consequences of the program for vulnerable populations.

Conclusions: Policies to reduce hospital readmissions must balance the need to ensure continued access to quality care for vulnerable populations.

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Managing Manifest Diseases, But Not Health Risks, Saved PepsiCo Money Over Seven Years

John Caloyeras et al.
Health Affairs, January 2014, Pages 124-131

Abstract:
Workplace wellness programs are increasingly popular. Employers expect them to improve employee health and well-being, lower medical costs, increase productivity, and reduce absenteeism. To test whether such expectations are warranted, we evaluated the cost impact of the lifestyle and disease management components of PepsiCo's wellness program, Healthy Living. We found that seven years of continuous participation in one or both components was associated with an average reduction of $30 in health care cost per member per month. When we looked at each component individually, we found that the disease management component was associated with lower costs and that the lifestyle management component was not. We estimate disease management to reduce health care costs by $136 per member per month, driven by a 29 percent reduction in hospital admissions. Workplace wellness programs may reduce health risks, delay or avoid the onset of chronic diseases, and lower health care costs for employees with manifest chronic disease. But employers and policy makers should not take for granted that the lifestyle management component of such programs can reduce health care costs or even lead to net savings.

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Are Dual Eligibles Admitted to Poorer Quality Skilled Nursing Facilities?

Momotazur Rahman et al.
Health Services Research, forthcoming

Background: Dual eligibles, persons who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid coverage, often receive poorer quality care relative to other Medicare beneficiaries.

Objectives: To determine whether dual eligibles are discharged to lower quality post-acute skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) compared with Medicare-only beneficiaries.

Research Design: Following the random utility maximization model, we specified a discharge function using a conditional logit model and tested how this discharge rule varied by dual-eligibility status.

Subjects: A total of 692,875 Medicare fee-for-service patients (22% duals) who were discharged for Medicare paid SNF care between July 2004 and June 2005.

Measures: Medicare enrollment and the Medicaid Analytic Extract files were used to determine dual eligibility. The proportion of Medicaid patients and nursing staff characteristics provided measures of SNF quality.

Results: Duals are more likely to be discharged to SNFs with a higher share of Medicaid patients and fewer nurses. These results are robust to estimation with an alternative subsample of patients based on primary diagnoses, propensity of being dual eligible, and likelihood of remaining in the nursing home.

Conclusions: Disparities exist in access to quality SNF care for duals. Strategies to improve discharge planning processes are required to redirect patients to higher quality providers, regardless of Medicaid eligibility.

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Contextual Determinants of US Nursing Home Racial/Ethnic Diversity

Jullet Davis et al.
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
We hypothesized that for-profit/chain affiliated nursing homes, those in states with higher Medicaid reimbursement, and those in more competitive markets would have greater resident racial/ethnic diversity than nursing homes not meeting these criteria. Using 2004 Online Survey, Certification and Reporting data, Minimum Data Set, Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research data, and the Area Resource File, we included U.S. Medicare/Medicaid certified nursing homes (N= 8,950) located in 310 Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The dependent variable quantified facility-level multiracial diversity. Ordinary least squares regression showed support for the hypothesized relationships: for-profit/chain affiliated nursing homes were more diverse than nursing homes in all other ownership/chain member categories, while higher Medicaid per-diem rates, greater residential diversity, and stronger market competition were also positively associated with nursing home racial/ethnic composition. Results suggest there is room for policy changes to achieve equitable access to all levels of nursing home services for minority elders.

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The Impact of Electronic Health Records on Workflow and Financial Measures in Primary Care Practices

Neil Fleming et al.
Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To estimate a commercially available ambulatory electronic health record's (EHR's) impact on workflow and financial measures.

Data Sources/Study Setting: Administrative, payroll, and billing data were collected for 26 primary care practices in a fee-for-service network that rolled out an EHR on a staggered schedule from June 2006 through December 2008.

Study Design: An interrupted time series design was used. Staffing, visit intensity, productivity, volume, practice expense, payments received, and net income data were collected monthly for 2004-2009. Changes were evaluated 1-6, 7-12, and >12 months postimplementation.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods: Data were accessed through a SQLserver database, transformed into SASR, and aggregated by practice. Practice-level data were divided by full-time physician equivalents for comparisons across practices by month.

Principal Findings: Staffing and practice expenses increased following EHR implementation (3 and 6 percent after 12 months). Productivity, volume, and net income decreased initially but recovered to/close to preimplementation levels after 12 months. Visit intensity did not change significantly, and a secular trend offset the decrease in payments received.

Conclusions: Expenses increased and productivity decreased following EHR implementation, but not as much or as persistently as might be expected. Longer term effects still need to be examined.

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The Association between EHRs and Care Coordination Varies by Team Cohesion

Ilana Graetz et al.
Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To examine whether primary care team cohesion changes the association between using an integrated outpatient-inpatient electronic health record (EHR) and clinician-rated care coordination across delivery sites.

Study Design: Self-administered surveys of primary care clinicians in a large integrated delivery system, collected in 2005 (N = 565), 2006 (N = 678), and 2008 (N = 626) during the staggered implementation of an integrated EHR (2005-2010), including validated questions on team cohesion. Using multivariable regression, we examined the combined effect of EHR use and team cohesion on three dimensions of care coordination across delivery sites: access to timely and complete information, treatment agreement, and responsibility agreement.

Principal Findings: Among clinicians working in teams with higher cohesion, EHR use was associated with significant improvements in reported access to timely and complete information (53.5 percent with EHR vs. 37.6 percent without integrated-EHR), agreement on treatment goals (64.3 percent vs. 50.6 percent), and agreement on responsibilities (63.9 percent vs. 55.2 percent, all p < .05). We found no statistically significant association between use of the integrated-EHR and reported care coordination in less cohesive teams.

Conclusion: The association between EHR use and reported care coordination varied by level of team cohesion. EHRs may not improve care coordination in less cohesive teams.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Present value

Time, Money, and Morality

Francesca Gino & Cassie Mogilner
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Money, a resource that absorbs much daily attention, seems to be involved in much unethical behavior, which suggests that money itself may corrupt. This research examined a way to offset such potentially deleterious effects - by focusing on time, a resource that tends to receive less attention than money but is equally ubiquitous in daily life. Across four experiments, we examined whether shifting focus onto time can salvage individuals' ethicality. We found that implicitly activating the construct of time, rather than money, leads individuals to behave more ethically by cheating less. We further found that priming time reduces cheating by making people reflect on who they are. Implications for the use of time primes in discouraging dishonesty are discussed.

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Money, Moral Transgressions, and Blame

Wenwen Xie et al.
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two experiments tested participants' attributions for others' immoral behaviors when conducted for more versus less money. We hypothesized and found that observers would blame wrongdoers more when seeing a transgression enacted for little rather than a lot of money, and that this would be evident in observers' hand-washing behavior. Experiment 1 used a cognitive dissonance paradigm. Participants (N = 160) observed a confederate lie in exchange for either a relatively large or small monetary payment. Participants blamed the liar more in the small (versus large) money condition. Participants (N = 184) in Experiment 2 saw images of someone knocking over another to obtain a small, medium, or large monetary sum. In the small (versus large) money condition, participants blamed the perpetrator (money) more. Hence, participants assigned less blame to moral wrong-doers, if the latter enacted their deed to obtain relatively large sums of money. Small amounts of money accentuate the immorality of others' transgressions.

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Underestimating Our Influence Over Others' Unethical Behavior and Decisions

Vanessa Bohns, Mahdi Roghanizad & Amy Xu
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examined the psychology of "instigators," people who surround an unethical act and influence the wrongdoer (the "actor") without directly committing the act themselves. In four studies, we found that instigators of unethical acts underestimated their influence over actors. In Studies 1 and 2, university students enlisted other students to commit a "white lie" (Study 1) or commit a small act of vandalism (Study 2) after making predictions about how easy it would be to get their fellow students to do so. In Studies 3 and 4, online samples of participants responded to hypothetical vignettes, for example, about buying children alcohol and taking office supplies home for personal use. In all four studies, instigators failed to recognize the social pressure they levied on actors through simple unethical suggestions, that is, the discomfort actors would experience by making a decision that was inconsistent with the instigator's suggestion.

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Tainting the soul: Purity concerns predict moral judgments of suicide

Joshua Rottman, Deborah Kelemen & Liane Young
Cognition, February 2014, Pages 217-226

Abstract:
Moral violations are typically defined as actions that harm others. However, suicide is considered immoral even though the perpetrator is also the victim. To determine whether concerns about purity rather than harm predict moral condemnation of suicide, we presented American adults with obituaries describing suicide or homicide victims. While harm was the only variable predicting moral judgments of homicide, perceived harm (toward others, the self, or God) did not significantly account for variance in moral judgments of suicide. Instead, regardless of political and religious views and contrary to explicit beliefs about their own moral judgments, participants were more likely to morally condemn suicide if they (i) believed suicide tainted the victims' souls, (ii) reported greater concerns about purity in an independent questionnaire, (iii) experienced more disgust in response to the obituaries, or (iv) reported greater trait disgust. Thus, suicide is deemed immoral to the extent that it is considered impure.

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Tainted Altruism: When Doing Some Good Is Evaluated as Worse Than Doing No Good at All

George Newman & Daylian Cain
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In four experiments, we found that the presence of self-interest in the charitable domain was seen as tainting: People evaluated efforts that realized both charitable and personal benefits as worse than analogous behaviors that produced no charitable benefit. This tainted-altruism effect was observed in a variety of contexts and extended to both moral evaluations of other agents and participants' own behavioral intentions (e.g., reported willingness to hire someone or purchase a company's products). This effect did not seem to be driven by expectations that profits would be realized at the direct cost of charitable benefits, or the explicit use of charity as a means to an end. Rather, we found that it was related to the accessibility of different counterfactuals: When someone was charitable for self-interested reasons, people considered his or her behavior in the absence of self-interest, ultimately concluding that the person did not behave as altruistically as he or she could have. However, when someone was only selfish, people did not spontaneously consider whether the person could have been more altruistic.

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Promises and Expectations

Florian Ederer & Alexander Stremitzer
Yale Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
We investigate why people keep their promises in the absence of external enforcement mechanisms and reputational effects. In a controlled economic laboratory experiment we show that exogenous variation of second-order expectations (promisors' expectations about promisees' expectations that the promise will be kept) leads to a significant change in promisor behavior. We document for the first time that a promisor's aversion to disappoint the promisee's expectation leads her to keep her promise. We propose a simple theory of lexicographic promise keeping that is supported by our results and nests the findings of previous contributions as special cases.

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Soldiers of misfortune: An examination of the Dark Triad and the experience of schadenfreude

Stephen Porter et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study was the first to investigate the relation between Dark Triad personality traits and the experience of schadenfreude. Participants (N = 120) were assigned to one of three priming conditions: empathy, schadenfreude, or neutral. After reading a vignette priming one of the three emotional states, each participant was exposed to a photographic image showing an unfortunate event experienced by the individual described in the vignette. All participants were shown the same four images and completed an evaluation form about their subjective emotional reactions to each image. Further, their facial expression reactions to each image were video-recorded and coded for smile presence and intensity. Results indicated positive relationships between Dark Triad traits and both self-reported schadenfreude and objective smile intensity. Higher Dark Triad scores also were associated with self-reported increased schadenfreude in daily life and a propensity to seek out related stimuli.

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Behind bars but above the bar: Prisoners consider themselves more prosocial than non-prisoners

Constantine Sedikides et al.
British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
That people evaluate themselves more favourably than their average peer on desirable characteristics - the better-than-average effect (BTAE) - is one of the most frequently cited instances of motivated self-enhancement. It has been argued, however, that the BTAE can be rational when the distribution of characteristics is skewed such that most people lie above the mean. We addressed whether the BTAE is present even among people liable to be objectively below average on such characteristics. Prisoners compared their standing on pro-social characteristics - such as kindness, morality, law abidingness - with non-prisoners. Prisoners exhibited the BTAE on every characteristic except law abidingness, for which they viewed themselves as average. Given that prisoners are unlikely to be objectively above average on pro-social characteristics, the findings push for a motivational interpretation of the BTAE.

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Moral Violations Reduce Oral Consumption

Cindy Chan et al.
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consumers frequently encounter moral violations in everyday life. They watch movies and television shows about crime and deception, hear news reports of corporate fraud and tax evasion, and hear gossip about cheaters and thieves. How does exposure to moral violations influence consumption? Because moral violations arouse disgust and because disgust is an evolutionarily important signal of contamination that should provoke a multi-modal response, we hypothesize that moral violations affect a key behavioral response to disgust: reduced oral consumption. In three experiments, compared with those in control conditions, people drank less water and chocolate milk while (a) watching a film portraying the moral violations of incest, (b) writing about moral violations of cheating or theft, and (c) listening to a report about fraud and manipulation. These findings imply that "moral disgust" influences consumption in ways similar to core disgust, and thus provide evidence for the associations between moral violations, emotions, and consumer behavior.

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Order of actions mitigates hypocrisy judgments for ingroup more than outgroup members

Jamie Barden et al.
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Compared to the conventional order of hypocritical actions - saying one thing and then doing another - merely reversing the order of these actions can mitigate whether an individual is judged to be a hypocrite (Barden, Rucker, & Petty, 2005). The present research examines how factors extraneous to a target's own actions - specifically, group membership - influence hypocrisy judgments. Three experiments provided consistent evidence that reversing the order of statement and behavior mitigated hypocrisy judgments to a greater extent when observers judged ingroup targets compared to outgroup targets. This pattern was observed across two distinct groups (i.e., gender and political party). In addition, mediational evidence suggested that the greater mitigation for ingroup targets stemmed from the observer's greater tendency to make attributions that ingroup targets had genuinely changed for the better.

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In broad daylight, we trust in God! Brightness, the salience of morality, and ethical behavior

Wen-Bin Chiou & Ying-Yao Cheng
Journal of Environmental Psychology, December 2013, Pages 37-42

Abstract:
Based on metaphorical associations between light and goodness, we hypothesized that experiencing brightness increases the salience of moral considerations and the likelihood of engaging in ethical behavior. The results of three experiments supported these predictions. In Experiment 1, participants in a well-lit room acted less selfishly in the dictator game and were more likely to return undeserved money than were those in a moderately or a dimly lit room. In Experiment 2, participants' monetary donations were positively associated with environment lighting. In Experiment 3, participants in a well-lit room volunteered to code more data sheets than did participants in moderate brightness. Experiments 2 and 3 used implicit and explicit measures of the salience of morality to self to demonstrate that the relationship between brightness and ethical behavior is driven by an increased mental accessibility of morality. Control over environment lighting may be an effective approach to increasing ethical behavior.

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Repeating the Past: Prevention Focus Motivates Repetition, Even for Unethical Decisions

Shu Zhang, James Cornwell & Tory Higgins
Psychological Science, January 2014, Pages 179-187

Abstract:
Prevention-focused individuals are motivated to maintain the status quo. Given this, we predicted that individuals with a strong prevention focus, either as a chronic predisposition or situationally induced, would treat their initial decision on how to behave on a first task as the status quo and would thus be motivated to repeat that decision on a subsequent task - even for decisions that were ethically questionable. Results from five studies supported this prediction in multiple ethical domains: whether or not to overstate performance (Studies 1, 2a, and 2b), whether or not to disclose disadvantageous facts (Study 3), and whether or not to pledge a donation (Study 4). The prevention-repetition effect was observed both when the initial and subsequent decisions were in the same domain (Studies 1-3) and when they were in different domains (Study 4). Alternative accounts for this effect, such as justification for the initial decision and preference for consistency, were ruled out (Study 2b).

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Bolstering system-justifying beliefs in response to social exclusion

Yanine Hess & Alison Ledgerwood
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Integrating research on social exclusion with the broader literature on system justification and flexible responses to threats, we propose a novel coping strategy that individuals may use in the face of social exclusion. In particular, we suggest that because exclusion often feels unexpected, it will lead individuals to bolster the system-justifying worldview that people get what they deserve, as excluded individuals attempt to cognitively cope with the threatened order and predictability of their world. Supporting our prediction, in Study 1, social exclusion (vs. inclusion) led participants to increasingly endorse descriptive meritocratic beliefs suggesting that hard work leads to success in society. This effect was mediated by the perceived unexpectedness of the interaction outcome, providing key evidence for our hypothesized process. Study 2 used individual differences in rejection sensitivity to provide further support for our unexpectedness account, demonstrating that exclusion heightens meritocratic beliefs only insofar as participants tend to find exclusions unexpected. The results expand our understanding of the cognitive mechanisms by which people cope with social exclusion and highlight the malleability of system-justifying ideologies in response to interpersonal factors.

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Voice or Consistency? What You Perceive as Procedurally Fair Depends on Your Level of Power Distance

Susanne Summereder, Bernhard Streicher & Bernad Batinic
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, February 2014, Pages 192-212

Abstract:
Power distance (PD) is a cultural value known for its moderating effect on subordinates' reaction to procedural justice. The reaction to procedural justice in general as well as the reaction to the voice criterion exclusively emerged to be stronger among low PD (LPD) than high PD (HPD) individuals. Until now, no research exists, however, on the effect of PD on Leventhal's procedural justice criteria, when measured separately. By means of two studies, the effect of PD on voice was therefore compared with the effect of PD on Leventhal's consistency criterion. Consistency was chosen due to HPD individuals' preference for structure and stability. Study 1 (n = 258), a cross-cultural scenario-based study examining the effect in terms of received and violated fairness, revealed a moderating effect of PD on the reaction to voice, but not on the reaction to consistency. Voice was found to be exclusively important for LPD individuals, whereas consistency emerged to be important regardless of PD. Study 2, a mono-cultural within-subjects study (n = 161), replicated these results. Accordingly, not voice but consistency seems to be the procedural justice criterion of particular relevance for managers to consider in times of globalization and increasing cultural diversity.

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The role of analytic thinking in moral judgements and values

Gordon Pennycook et al.
Thinking & Reasoning, forthcoming

Abstract:
While individual differences in the willingness and ability to engage analytic processing have long informed research in reasoning and decision making, the implications of such differences have not yet had a strong influence in other domains of psychological research. We claim that analytic thinking is not limited to problems that have a normative basis and, as an extension of this, predict that individual differences in analytic thinking will be influential in determining beliefs and values. Along with assessments of cognitive ability and style, religious beliefs, and moral values, participants judged the wrongness of acts considered disgusting and conventionally immoral, but that do not violate care- or fairness-based moral principles. Differences in willingness to engage analytic thinking predicted reduced judgements of wrongness, independent of demographics, political ideology, religiosity, and moral values. Further, we show that those who were higher in cognitive ability were less likely to indicate that purity, patriotism, and respect for traditions and authority are important to their moral thinking. These findings are consistent with a "Reflectionist" view that assumes a role for analytic thought in determining substantive, deeply-held human beliefs and values.

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Regret in the context of unobtained rewards in criminal offenders

Melissa Hughes, Mairead Dolan & Julie Stout
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this study, we investigated whether differences in the experience of regret may be a potential explanation for damaging behaviours associated with psychopathy and criminal offending. Participants were incarcerated offenders (n = 60) and non-incarcerated controls (n = 20). Psychopathic traits were characterised with the Psychopathic Checklist: Screening Version. Regret was assessed by responses to outcomes on a simulated gambling task. Incarcerated offenders experienced a reduced sense of regret as compared to non-incarcerated controls. We obtained some evidence that specific psychopathic factors and facets could differentially relate to the experience and use of emotions. Our data provide initial evidence of important associations between negative emotions and decision behaviour in the context of criminal offending.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, January 13, 2014

Out of place

Did the 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act Reduce the State's Unauthorized Immigrant Population?

Sarah Bohn, Magnus Lofstrom & Steven Raphael
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We test for an effect of Arizona's 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA) on the proportion of the state population characterized as non-citizen Hispanic. We use the synthetic control method to select a group of states against which the population trends of Arizona can be compared. We document a notable and statistically significant reduction in the proportion of the Hispanic noncitizen population in Arizona. The decline observed matches the timing of LAWA's implementation, deviates from the time series for the synthetic control group, and stands out relative to the distribution of placebo estimates for other states in the nation.

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Native Competition and Low-Skilled Immigrant Inflows

Brian Cadena
Journal of Human Resources, Fall 2013, Pages 910-944

Abstract:
This paper demonstrates that immigration decisions depend on local labor market conditions by documenting the change in low-skilled immigrant inflows in response to supply increases among the US-born. Using prereform welfare participation rates as an instrument for changes in native labor supply, I find that immigrants competing with native entrants systematically prefer cities with smaller supply shocks. The extent of the response is substantial: for each native woman working due to reform, 0.5 fewer female immigrants enter the local labor force. These results provide direct evidence that international migration flows tend to equilibrate returns across US local labor markets.

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Openness and Income: The Roles of Trade and Migration

Francesc Ortega & Giovanni Peri
Journal of International Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper explores the relationship between openness to trade, immigration, and income per person across countries. To address endogeneity concerns we extend the instrumental-variables strategy introduced by Frankel and Romer (1999). We build predictors of openness to immigration and to trade for each country by using information on bilateral geographical and cultural distance (while controlling for country size). Since geography may affect income through other channels, we also control for climate, disease environment, natural resources, and colonial origins. Most importantly, we also account for the roles of institutions and early development. Our instrumental-variables estimates provide evidence of a robust, positive effect of openness to immigration on long-run income per capita. In contrast, we are unable to establish an effect of trade openness on income. We also show that the effect of migration operates through an increase in total factor productivity, which appears to reflect increased diversity in productive skills and, to some extent, a higher rate of innovation.

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Family Sponsorship and Late-Age Immigration in Aging America: Revised and Expanded Estimates of Chained Migration

Stacie Carr & Marta Tienda
Population Research and Policy Review, December 2013, Pages 825-849

Abstract:
We use the Immigrants Admitted to the United States (microdata) supplemented with special tabulations from the Department of Homeland Security to examine how family reunification impacts the age composition of new immigrant cohorts since 1980. We develop a family migration multiplier measure for the period 1981–2009 that improves on prior studies by including immigrants granted legal status under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act and relaxing unrealistic assumptions required by synthetic cohort measures. Results show that every 100 initiating immigrants admitted between 1981 and 1985 sponsored an average of 260 family members; the comparable figure for initiating immigrants for the 1996–2000 cohort is 345 family members. Furthermore, the number of family migrants ages 50 and over rose from 44 to 74 per 100 initiating migrants. The discussion considers the health and welfare implications of late-age immigration in a climate of growing fiscal restraint and an aging native population.

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The Voting Rights Act and Latino Voter Registration: Symbolic Assistance for English-Speaking Latinos

Michael Parkin & Frances Zlotnick
Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, February 2014, Pages 48-63

Abstract:
This study explores how the language minority provisions in the Voting Rights Act (VRA) affect Latino voter registration. We are particularly interested in how these provisions affect Latino citizens with varying levels of English language proficiency. Using data from the 2006 National Latino Survey, we find that Latino citizens with limited English skills register to vote at about the same rate whether or not they live in a county mandated by the VRA to provide registration and voting materials in Spanish. However, for Latinos who speak English “very well,” we find that access to these materials is associated with increased registration rates, all else equal. We interpret these findings to suggest that the positive effects of VRA coverage on Latino registration are due to a symbolic “welcoming” effect, rather than substantial reductions in administrative barriers to registration.

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Political affiliation, collective self-esteem and perceived employability of immigrants: Inducing national identity polarizes host-nation employers

Todd Lucas et al.
International Journal of Intercultural Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Host-nation employers’ political affiliation and national identity both may be relevant to seeing immigrant job-seekers as employable. However, whether national identity alters differences in links between political affiliation and evaluations of immigrants is not well articulated, and this includes a potential for national identity to either bolster or lessen harshness toward immigrant job-seekers. Moreover, research has yet to identify psychological mechanisms that could transmit a conjoint effect of political affiliation and national identity. In this study, we examined the capacity of national identity to accentuate links between political affiliation and perceived employability of immigrants. Liberal and conservative employment experts (human resource professionals and managers) were experimentally primed to elicit either a personal or national (U.S.) identity, and measures of attitudes toward immigrant job-seekers were collected. Results suggested a polarizing effect of national identity: conservative employers viewed immigrants as less employable when primed with national identity, while liberal employers rated immigrants as more employable. Among conservatives, priming national identity also resulted in greater collective self-esteem – feelings of self-worth derived from group membership. Moreover, increases in collective self-esteem mediated the link between primed national identity and less perceived employability among conservatives. Overall, this research contributes to emerging literature by suggesting that the capacity of national identity to either bolster or lessen harshness toward immigrants may depend on political affiliation. In addition, we suggest that transient changes in collective self-esteem can result from priming national identity, and that such changes may transmit links between national identity and evaluations of immigrants among conservatives.

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Ricochet: How Elite Discourse Politicizes Racial and Ethnic Identities

Efrén Pérez
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Political elites often discuss racial/ethnic outgroups in a critical light. I claim this discourse raises the salience of group identity while impugning its worth, thus inducing differential political reactions among high and low identifying group members. Specifically, high identifiers will engage in political efforts that restore their identity’s positive value by displaying ingroup favoritism and challenging the source of their group’s devaluation. In contrast, low identifiers will actively decline political opportunities to bolster their group’s devalued status. Using a national survey experiment, I randomly assigned eligible but unregistered Latino voters to a control group without elite discourse; a non-devaluing condition with elite discourse focused on illegal immigration; or, a devaluing condition with elite discourse focused on illegal immigration and critical of illegal immigrants. High identifying Latinos in the devaluing condition expressed greater pro-Latino political attitudes and a stronger intention to register and vote in a pending presidential election. This dynamic was absent in the other conditions and unrelated to Latinos’ partisan identity. These results suggest an identity-to-politics link is robustly forged among high identifying group members when they sense a devaluation of their group.

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Immigration policy and counterterrorism

Subhayu Bandyopadhyay & Todd Sandler
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In a developing country, terrorists recruit and allocate their capital, skilled labor, and unskilled labor between domestic and foreign targets. Domestic targets require less skilled labor than foreign targets. Under various strategic scenarios, we show how countermeasures against the different terrorist inputs alter the amount and mix of targets, as well as how skilled and unskilled immigration quotas by a targeted foreign country affect this mix of attacks. We find that increases in skilled labor quotas generally reduce terrorist attacks in the foreign country, especially when the terrorists reside in a skill-scarce country. A number of different strategic scenarios, including leader-follower, are investigated.

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The Impact of Immigration Enforcement on the U.S. Farming Sector

Genti Kostandini, Elton Mykerezi & Cesar Escalante
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the effects of local immigration enforcement efforts on U.S. agriculture in dozens of U.S. counties from 2002–2010 by using variations in the timing of adoption of 287(g) programs, which permit local police to enforce immigration law. Difference-in-differences models using microdata from the American Community Survey (2005–2010 waves) and county tabulations from the Census of Agriculture (1997, 2002, and 2007) yield robust evidence that county enforcement efforts have reduced immigrant presence in adopting jurisdictions. We also find evidence that wages of farm workers, patterns of farm labor use, output choices, and farm profitability may have been affected in a manner consistent with farm labor shortages.

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Group Size versus Change? Assessing Americans’ Perception of Local Immigration

Benjamin Newman & Yamil Velez
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Leading opinion research on immigration has begun to move from size-based to change-based measures of citizens’ ethnic context. This shift is based on the theoretical assumption that over-time growth in immigrant populations is more likely to capture citizens’ attention than their current size. At present, there is no empirical evidence supporting this assumption. This article demonstrates that while the size of local immigrant populations exerts virtually no effect on perceived immigration, over-time growth strongly influences citizens’ perceptions of immigration into their community. In addition, our analyses illuminate the differential contribution of growth in local Hispanic and Asian populations to perceived immigration.

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Indian Entrepreneurial Success in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom

Robert Fairlie et al.
University of California Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
Indian immigrants in the United States and other wealthy countries are successful in entrepreneurship. Using Census data from the three largest developed countries receiving Indian immigrants in the world -- the United States, United Kingdom and Canada -- we examine the performance of Indian entrepreneurs and explanations for their success. We find that business income of Indian entrepreneurs in the United States is substantially higher than the national average and is higher than any other immigrant group. Approximately half of the average difference in income between Indian entrepreneurs and the national average is explained by their high levels of education while industry differences explain an additional 10 percent. In Canada, Indian entrepreneurs have average earnings slightly below the national average but they are more likely to hire employees, as are their counterparts in the United States and United Kingdom. The Indian educational advantage is smaller in Canada and the United Kingdom contributing less to their entrepreneurial success.

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The impact of unionization and other factors on undocumented immigrant settlement patterns in the US

Richard Cebula, Maggie Foley & Robert Boylan
Applied Economics Letters, Winter 2014, Pages 272-275

Abstract:
In this study, we seek to add to the literature on undocumented immigrants by (1) identifying key determinants of the settlement patterns of undocumented immigrants and (2) testing a new hypothesis, what is referred to here as the ‘union-aversion hypothesis’. This hypothesis is elaborated upon in Section II of this study, but ultimately it argues that undocumented workers prefer to settle in states where the percentage of the labour force that is unionized is lower. Our findings suggest that the state-level settlement pattern of undocumented immigrants in the US is an increasing function of a state’s median family income level, the mean January temperature in a state and the relative size of the documented Hispanic population in the state, while being a decreasing function of the overall cost of living in the state. In addition, strong empirical support for the union-aversion hypothesis is obtained, namely the settlement pattern of undocumented immigrants is a decreasing function of the percentage of a state’s labour force that is unionized.

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Easing the Heavy Hand: Humanitarian Concern, Empathy, and Opinion on Immigration

Benjamin Newman et al.
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The bulk of the public opinion research on immigration identifies the factors leading to opposition to immigration. In contrast, we focus on a previously unexplored factor yielding support for immigration: humanitarianism. Relying upon secondary analysis of national public opinion survey data and an original survey experiment, we demonstrate that humanitarian concern significantly decreases support for restrictive immigration policy. Results from our survey experiment demonstrate that in an information environment evoking both threat and countervailing humanitarian concern regarding immigration, the latter can and does override the former. Last, our results point to the importance of individual differences in empathy in moderating the effects of both threat and humanitarian inducements.

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Corporate Lobbying and Immigration Policies in Canada

Ludovic Rheault
Canadian Journal of Political Science, September 2013, Pages 691-722

Abstract:
This study examines the enduring claim that firms exert influence on immigration policies, prompting governments to open the doors to foreign labour. Although intuitively appealing, this claim has received little empirical support so far, the actual channels of influence from special interests to policy makers being usually opaque to public scrutiny. To address this problem, I rely upon the vector autoregression methodology and make use of fine-grained quarterly data on lobbying, skills-based immigration and temporary workers in Canada, between 1996 and 2011. A key result is the positive and robust response of temporary worker inflows to the intensity of corporate lobbying, even after accounting for labour market conditions. In contrast, there is no conclusive evidence that lobbyists carry weight when it comes to permanent migrants.

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Are They Acculturating? Europe's Immigrants and Gender Egalitarianism

Antje Röder & Peter Mühlau
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
A substantial share of Europe's population consists of immigrants and the children of immigrants. Using European Social Survey data, this study examines whether the gender-egalitarian values of immigrants are shaped by the gender relations in their origin country and whether they adapt their values to the standards of their residence country. The analyses show that immigrants originating from countries with very inegalitarian gender relations support gender equality less than members of mainstream society. However, immigrants adapt their gender ideology to the standards of their residence country, and the origin context loses force over time. Both acculturation within the first generation and acculturation across the generations play a role; but women tend to “assimilate” within the first generation and more thoroughly than men.

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Closing the Social Class Achievement Gap for First-Generation Students in Undergraduate Biology

Judith Harackiewicz et al.
Journal of Educational Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many students start college intending to pursue a career in the biosciences, but too many abandon this goal because they struggle in introductory biology. Interventions have been developed to close achievement gaps for underrepresented minority students and women, but no prior research has attempted to close the gap for 1st-generation students, a population that accounts for nearly a 5th of college students. We report a values affirmation intervention conducted with 798 U.S. students (154 first-generation) in an introductory biology course for majors. For 1st-generation students, values affirmation significantly improved final course grades and retention in the 2nd course in the biology sequence, as well as overall grade point average for the semester. This brief intervention narrowed the achievement gap between 1st-generation and continuing-generation students for course grades by 50% and increased retention in a critical gateway course by 20%. Our results suggest that educators can expand the pipeline for 1st-generation students to continue studying in the biosciences with psychological interventions.

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Are immigrants really attracted to the welfare state? Evidence from OECD countries

Aaron Jackson, David Ortmeyer & Michael Quinn
International Economics and Economic Policy, December 2013, Pages 491-519

Abstract:
This paper examines the impact of fiscal policies on both the size and educational levels of immigrants in destination countries. We find that whether or not a country’s policies are attracting highly educated immigrants goes beyond the issue of the “welfare state”. Immigrants are making important distinctions between the different benefits provided by a receiving country’s government. Health and education spending are found to have a positive impact on the education levels of immigrants while the reverse is true for unemployment and retirement benefits. Welfare programs are found to be insignificant once other government programs/taxes and other factors are taken into account. These results imply that countries should be less concerned about whether they are a “big government” with regards to attracting immigrants, and more concerned with what types of benefits they offer.

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Relative deprivation and migration preferences

Walter Hyll & Lutz Schneider
Economics Letters, February 2014, Pages 334–337

Abstract:
In this paper, we overcome the existing shortages with respect to the assignment of individuals to reference groups and are the first to show that individual aversion to relative deprivation plays a decisive role in shaping migration preferences.

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Immigrant Assimilation, Canada 1971–2006: Has the Tide Turned?

Michele Campolieti et al.
Journal of Labor Research, December 2013, Pages 455-475

Abstract:
Based on the micro files of the Canadian Census we document an increasing earnings penalty for cohorts of immigrants arriving after the late-1970s, especially for the most recent cohort. We also find much quicker assimilation rates for these cohorts, especially for the most recent cohort. Since the late-1970s, the increasing earnings penalty dominated their more rapid assimilation, so that immigrants exhibited ever-deteriorating patterns of integration into the Canadian labour market. For the most recent cohort (2002–2006), this reversed itself, suggesting that the tide may have turned. We find this for both men and women. Our findings are robust across alternative regression specifications, as well as a sample that only considers full-time and full-year workers.

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The Migrant Wage Premium in Professional Football: A Superstar Effect?

Alex Bryson, Giambattista Rossi & Rob Simmons
Kyklos, February 2014, Pages 12–28

Abstract:
Using panel data on professional footballers and their teams over a seven year period we find a substantial wage premium for migrants which persists within teams and is only partially accounted for by players' on-field labour productivity. We show that the differential partly reflects the superstar status of migrant workers. This superstar effect is apparent in migrant effects on team performance and crowd attendance.

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Social Exclusion and Economic Growth: An Empirical Investigation in European Economies

Roberto Dell'Anno & Adalgiso Amendola
Review of Income and Wealth, forthcoming

Abstract:
The aims of this article are to propose an overall index of social exclusion and to analyze its relationship with economic growth in European countries. We approach social exclusion as a multidimensional phenomenon by a three-mode principal components analysis (Tucker3 model). This method is applied to estimate an indicator of social exclusion for 28 European countries between 1995 and 2010. The empirical evidence shows that in the short run: (1) Granger causality runs one way from social exclusion to economic growth and not the other way; (2) countries with a higher level of social exclusion have higher growth rates of real GDP per capita; and (3) social exclusion has a larger effect than income inequality on economic growth. The policy implication of our analysis is that social inclusion is not a source of economic growth in the short term.

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Generational patterns in Mexican Americans' academic performance in an unwelcoming political context

Danyel Moosmann, Mark Roosa & George Knight
Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research has shown that immigrant students often do better academically than their U.S.-born peers from the same ethnic group, but it is unclear whether this pattern holds for Mexican Americans. We examined the academic performance of four generations of Mexican American students from 5th to 10th grade looking for generation differences and explanations for them. Using data from 749 families, we tested a model with 5th-grade variables that differed by generation as potential mediators linking student generation to 10th-grade academic performance. Results showed that immigrants were academically behind at 5th grade but caught up by 7th. Only economic hardship mediated the long term relation between student generation and 10th-grade academic performance; maternal educational expectations and child language hassles, English usage, discrimination, and mainstream values helped explained the early academic deficit of immigrant children. The results identified potential targets for interventions to improve Mexican American students' academic performance.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tragedy of the commons

Media’s role in broadcasting acute stress following the Boston Marathon bombings

Alison Holman, Dana Rose Garfin & Roxane Cohen Silver
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 7 January 2014, Pages 93–98

Abstract:
We compared the impact of media vs. direct exposure on acute stress response to collective trauma. We conducted an Internet-based survey following the Boston Marathon bombings between April 29 and May 13, 2013, with representative samples of residents from Boston (n = 846), New York City (n = 941), and the remainder of the United States (n = 2,888). Acute stress symptom scores were comparable in Boston and New York [regression coefficient (b) = 0.43; SE = 1.42; 95% confidence interval (CI), −2.36, 3.23], but lower nationwide when compared with Boston (b = −2.21; SE = 1.07; 95% CI, −4.31, −0.12). Adjusting for prebombing mental health (collected prospectively), demographics, and prior collective stress exposure, six or more daily hours of bombing-related media exposure in the week after the bombings was associated with higher acute stress than direct exposure to the bombings (continuous acute stress symptom total: media exposure b = 15.61 vs. direct exposure b = 5.69). Controlling for prospectively collected prebombing television-watching habits did not change the findings. In adjusted models, direct exposure to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Sandy Hook School shootings were both significantly associated with bombing-related acute stress; Superstorm Sandy exposure wasn't. Prior exposure to similar and/or violent events may render some individuals vulnerable to the negative effects of collective traumas. Repeatedly engaging with trauma-related media content for several hours daily shortly after collective trauma may prolong acute stress experiences and promote substantial stress-related symptomatology. Mass media may become a conduit that spreads negative consequences of community trauma beyond directly affected communities.

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The Benefits of Retail Therapy: Making Purchase Decisions Reduces Residual Sadness

Scott Rick, Beatriz Pereira & Katherine Alicia Burson
Journal of Consumer Psychology, October 2013

Abstract:
People often shop when feeling sad, but whether and why shopping reduces residual (lingering) sadness remains an open question. Sadness is strongly associated with a sense that situational forces control the outcomes in one’s life, and thus we theorized that the choices inherent in shopping may restore personal control over one’s environment and reduce residual sadness. Three experiments provided support for our hypothesis. Making shopping choices helped to alleviate sadness whether they were hypothetical (Experiment 1) or real (Experiment 2). In addition, all experiments found support for the underlying mechanism of personal control restoration. Notably, the benefits of restored personal control over one’s environment do not generalize to anger (Experiments 2 and 3), because anger is associated with a sense that other people (rather than situational forces) are likely to cause negative outcomes, and these appraisals are not ameliorated by restoring personal control over one’s environment.

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Expertise in Psychotherapy: An Elusive Goal?

Terence Tracey et al.
American Psychologist, forthcoming

Abstract:
It has been argued that psychotherapy is a profession without any expertise (Shanteau, 1992). We examine the validity of this claim, reviewing the literature on expertise, clinical decision making, and psychotherapeutic outcome assessment, and find it a reasonable assessment. There is no demonstration of accuracy and skill that is associated with experience as a therapist. We posit that this absence of an expertise–experience relation is attributable to therapists’ lack of access to quality outcome information regarding their interventions and an overreliance on fallible information-processing strategies even when such outcome information is available. The research on providing outcome feedback is reviewed, and although it does relate to client improvement, it has not been shown to be associated with any gains in therapist skill or expertise. We propose a model of outcome information usage and specific a priori hypothesis testing as a means of developing expertise.

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Prolonged Exposure vs Supportive Counseling for Sexual Abuse–Related PTSD in Adolescent Girls: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Edna Foa et al.
Journal of the American Medical Association, 25 December 2013, Pages 2650-2657

Objective: To examine the effects of counselor-delivered prolonged exposure therapy compared with supportive counseling for adolescents with PTSD.

Design, Setting, and Participants: A single-blind, randomized clinical trial of 61 adolescent girls with PTSD using a permuted block design. Counselors previously naive to prolonged exposure therapy provided the treatments in a community mental health clinic. Data collection lasted from February 2006 through March 2012.

Interventions: Participants received fourteen 60- to 90-minute sessions of prolonged exposure therapy (n = 31) or supportive counseling (n = 30).

Main Outcomes and Measures: All outcomes were assessed before treatment, at mid-treatment, and after treatment and at 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-up. The primary outcome, PTSD symptom severity, was assessed by the Child PTSD Symptom Scale–Interview (range, 0-51; higher scores indicate greater severity). Secondary outcomes were presence or absence of PTSD diagnosis assessed by the DSM-IV Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children and functioning assessed by the Children’s Global Assessment Scale (range, 1-100; higher scores indicate better functioning). Additional secondary measures, PTSD severity assessed by the Child PTSD Symptom Scale–Self-Report (range, 0-51; higher scores indicate greater severity) and depression severity assessed by the Children’s Depression Inventory (range, 0-54; higher scores indicate greater severity), were also assessed weekly during treatment.

Results: Data were analyzed as intent to treat. During treatment, participants receiving prolonged exposure demonstrated greater improvement on the PTSD symptom severity scale (difference between treatments in improvement, 7.5; 95% CI, 2.5-12.5; P < .001) and on all secondary outcomes (loss of PTSD diagnosis: difference, 29.3%, 95% CI, 20.2%-41.2%; P = .01; self-reported PTSD severity: difference, 6.2; 95% CI, 1.2-11.2; P = .02; depression: difference, 4.9; 95% CI, 1.6-8.2; P = .008; global functioning: difference, 10.1; 95% CI, 3.4-16.8; P = .008). These treatment differences were maintained through the 12-month follow-up: for interviewer-assessed PTSD (difference, 6.0; 95% CI, 1.6-10.4; P = .02), loss of PTSD diagnosis (difference, 31.1; 95% CI, 14.7-34.8; P = .01), self-reported PTSD (difference, 9.3; 95% CI, 1.2-16.5; P = .02), depression (difference, 7.2; 95% CI, 1.4-13.0; P = .02), and global functioning (difference, 11.2; 95% CI, 4.5-17.9; P = .01).

Conclusion and Relevance: Adolescents girls with sexual abuse–related PTSD experienced greater benefit from prolonged exposure therapy than from supportive counseling even when delivered by counselors who typically provide supportive counseling.

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An electroconvulsive therapy procedure impairs reconsolidation of episodic memories in humans

Marijn Kroes et al.
Nature Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite accumulating evidence for a reconsolidation process in animals, support in humans, especially for episodic memory, is limited. Using a within-subjects manipulation, we found that a single application of electroconvulsive therapy following memory reactivation in patients with unipolar depression disrupted reactivated, but not non-reactivated, memories for an emotional episode in a time-dependent manner. Our results provide evidence for reconsolidation of emotional episodic memories in humans.

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Preferring familiar emotions: As you want (and like) it?

Brett Ford & Maya Tamir
Cognition & Emotion, Winter 2014, Pages 311-324

Abstract:
Do people want to feel emotions that are familiar to them? In two studies, participants rated how much they typically felt various emotions (i.e., familiarity of the emotion) and how much they generally wanted to experience these emotions. We found that, in general, people wanted to feel pleasant emotions more than unpleasant emotions. However, for both pleasant and unpleasant emotions, people more (vs. less) familiar with an emotion also wanted to experience it more. Links between the familiarity of an emotion and wanting to experience that emotion were not explained by the concurrent experience of familiar emotions. Also, we show that although familiar emotions were also liked more, liking did not fully account for wanting familiar emotions. Finally, the familiarity of emotions mediated the links between trait affect and the emotions people wanted to feel. We propose that people are motivated to feel familiar emotions, in part, because of their instrumental value.

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Impact of retirement worry on information processing

Helen Gutierrez & Douglas Hershey
Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, December 2013, Pages 264-277

Abstract:
Clinically anxious individuals have been shown to process psychologically threatening words (e.g., worry) more slowly than words that are unrelated to their disorder (e.g., hammer). In the present investigation, working adults (N = 87) with different levels of financially linked retirement anxiety were investigated using the Emotional Stroop Task (EST). The EST involves presenting financially relevant retirement threat words (e.g., poverty) on a computer screen in addition to nonretirement neutral words (e.g., sailboat). Words were presented individually in 1 of 4 different colors of ink. Respondents’ task was to identify the ink color for each word as rapidly as possible. It was hypothesized that individuals with high levels of retirement anxiety would generate slower response latencies when naming the color of retirement threat words relative to neutral words. No such processing delay was predicted for nonanxious participants. ANOVA findings revealed a 2-way interaction that was consistent with a priori predictions. The data suggest working adults with retirement anxiety experienced information processing disruptions that stem from the negative emotional content linked to retirement concepts in long-term memory. From an applied perspective, these processing disruptions may represent a significant obstacle that needs to be surmounted when encouraging individuals with retirement anxiety to plan and save for the future.

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Speaking under pressure: Low linguistic complexity is linked to high physiological and emotional stress reactivity

Laura Saslow et al.
Psychophysiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
What can a speech reveal about someone's state? We tested the idea that greater stress reactivity would relate to lower linguistic cognitive complexity while speaking. In Study 1, we tested whether heart rate and emotional stress reactivity to a stressful discussion would relate to lower linguistic complexity. In Studies 2 and 3, we tested whether a greater cortisol response to a standardized stressful task including a speech (Trier Social Stress Test) would be linked to speaking with less linguistic complexity during the task. We found evidence that measures of stress responsivity (emotional and physiological) and chronic stress are tied to variability in the cognitive complexity of speech. Taken together, these results provide evidence that our individual experiences of stress or “stress signatures” — how our body and mind react to stress both in the moment and over the longer term — are linked to how complex our speech under stress.

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Enhanced sensitivity and response bias for male anger in women with borderline personality disorder

Heather Barnett Veague & Jill Hooley
Psychiatry Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Interpersonal difficulties, which are characteristic of BPD, may be related to problems with social cognition. We explored facial emotion recognition in 44 women (15 with BPD, 15 healthy controls, and 14 with a history of childhood trauma but no BPD) examining the role of BPD and abuse history in the ability to detect fearful, angry and happy cues in emotional faces. In Task 1, participants viewed pictures of morphed faces containing different percentages of specific emotions and reported the emotion they saw. In Task 2, participants were asked to increase the intensity of a specific emotion on an initially neutral face until they could detect that emotion in the face. Across both tasks, BPD predicted the earlier detection of anger in male faces. BPD symptoms also predicted the misidentification of anger in male faces containing no anger cues. Although participants with BPD were slower to recognize happiness in male faces, their overall ability to recognize happiness was unimpaired, although abuse history did predict problems with happiness recognition. Finally, recognition of fear was unrelated to abuse history and BPD. Findings suggest that BPD is associated with a bias toward seeing anger in males and that this is independent of abuse history.

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Accuracy of Reports of Lifetime Mental and Physical Disorders: Results From the Baltimore Epidemiological Catchment Area Study

Yoichiro Takayanagi et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To examine the lifetime prevalence estimates of mental and physical disorders during midlife to late life using both retrospective and cumulative evaluations.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Prospective population-based survey (Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Survey) with 4 waves of interviews of 1071 community residents in Baltimore, Maryland, between 1981 and 2005.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Lifetime prevalence of selected mental and physical disorders at wave 4 (2004-2005), according to both retrospective data and cumulative evaluations based on 4 interviews from wave 1 to wave 4.

Results: Retrospective evaluations substantially underestimated the lifetime prevalence of mental disorders as compared with cumulative evaluations. The respective lifetime prevalence estimates ascertained by retrospective and cumulative evaluations were 4.5% vs 13.1% for major depressive disorder, 0.6% vs 7.1% for obsessive-compulsive disorder, 2.5% vs 6.7% for panic disorder, 12.6% vs 25.3% for social phobia, 9.1% vs 25.9% for alcohol abuse or dependence, and 6.7% vs 17.6% for drug abuse or dependence. In contrast, retrospective lifetime prevalence estimates of physical disorders ascertained at wave 4 were much closer to those based on cumulative data from all 4 waves. The respective prevalence estimates ascertained by the 2 methods were 18.2% vs 20.2% for diabetes, 48.4% vs 55.4% for hypertension, 45.8% vs 54.0% for arthritis, 5.5% vs 7.2% for stroke, and 8.4% vs 10.5% for cancer.

Conclusions and Relevance: One-time, cross-sectional population surveys may consistently underestimate the lifetime prevalence of mental disorders. The population burden of mental disorders may therefore be substantially higher than previously appreciated.

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Episodes of Mental Health Treatment Among a Nationally Representative Sample of Children and Adolescents

Brendan Saloner, Nicholas Carson & Benjamin Lê Cook
Medical Care Research and Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite renewed national interest in mental health care reform, little is known about treatment patterns among youth in the general population. Using longitudinal data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, we examined both initiation and continuity of mental health treatment among 2,576 youth aged 5 to 17 with possible mental health treatment need (defined as a high score on a parent-assessed psychological impairment scale, fair/poor mental health status, or perceived need for counseling). Over a 2-year period, fewer than half of sampled youth initiated new mental health treatment. Minority, female, uninsured, and lower-income youth were significantly less likely to initiate care. Only one third of treatment episodes met criteria for minimal adequacy (≥4 provider visits with psychotropic medication treatment or ≥8 visits without medication). Episodes were significantly shorter for Latino youth. Efforts to strengthen mental health treatment for youth should be broadly focused, emphasizing not only screening and access but also treatment continuity.

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Childhood abuse and vulnerability to depression: Cognitive scars in otherwise healthy young adults

Tony Wells et al.
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Models of depression vulnerability posit that negative early experiences, such as exposure to childhood abuse (CA), increase vulnerability to depression later in life. Though most victims of CA do not go on to develop depression, the question remains as to whether these individuals retain cognitive ‘scars’ that may contribute to depression vulnerability. The present study examined the relationship between self-reported, retrospective CA and cognitive vulnerability to depression in a carefully selected sample of young adults without current or past psychopathology. We measured cognitive vulnerability with both a self-report questionnaire, the Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale (DAS), and a measure of information processing bias, the Scrambled Sentences Test (SST). Self-reported severity of CA was associated with increased cognitive vulnerability to depression on both the DAS and SST. Vulnerability to depression as measured by the SST, but not by the DAS, prospectively predicted increases in depressive symptoms over a 6-month period. Scores on the SST also interacted with CA to predict increases in depressive symptoms. These findings demonstrate the pernicious effects of CA even in those without current or past psychopathology.

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Vagal regulation and internalizing psychopathology among adolescents exposed to childhood adversity

Katie McLaughlin, Sonia Alves & Margaret Sheridan
Developmental Psychobiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Childhood adversity (CA) is strongly associated with youth psychopathology. Identifying factors that reduce vulnerability following CA is critical for developing preventive interventions. Vagal tone and vagal reactivity following psychosocial stressors might influence psychopathology among youths exposed to CA. We acquired heart period and impedance cardiography data to calculate respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and preejection period (PEP) from 157 adolescents aged 13–17 years at rest and during the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Internalizing and externalizing symptoms and multiple forms of CA were assessed. Resting RSA and RSA reactivity interacted with CA in predicting internalizing but not externalizing psychopathology; CA was unassociated with internalizing problems in adolescents with high resting RSA and RSA reactivity. No interactions were observed with PEP. High resting RSA predicted greater vagal rebound and accelerated heart rate recovery following the TSST, highlighting one potential mechanism underlying low internalizing symptoms following CA among youths with high vagal tone.

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Unsupported or Turned Against: Understanding How Two Types of Negative Social Reactions to Sexual Assault Relate to Postassault Outcomes

Mark Relyea & Sarah Ullman
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social reactions to disclosures of sexual assault have significant effects on women’s postassault outcomes. The Social Reactions Questionnaire measures these reactions (as reported by survivors) and aggregates them into positive and negative scales. However, studies indicate that only some “negative” reactions have a negative valence for survivors, whereas others produce a mixed (positive and negative) valence. The current study compares a one-primary-factor model of negative reactions to a model with two primary factors that we have labeled “turning against” (TA) and “unsupportive acknowledgment” (UA). Results showed that although one primary factor was plausible, two primary factors provided a better fit to the data. To assess the discriminant validity of the two factors, we performed regressions predicting social support, psychological adjustment, and coping behaviors. Analyses supported the hypotheses that reactions of being turned against were related to social withdrawal, increased self-blame, and decreased sexual assertiveness, whereas reactions of UA were related to both adaptive and maladaptive coping. Against predictions, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder were more related to receiving UA than to receiving TA reactions. Implications for interventions and research are discussed. Importantly, almost all women (94%) in our sample received reactions that acknowledged that an assault occurred but failed to provide support, and this lack of support was associated with worse coping than even more hostile reactions such as being blamed or stigmatized. Therefore, there seems a great need for effective programs to train community members to respond to survivors with the kind of emotional and tangible support that promotes better outcomes.

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Opposite effects of anxiety and depressive symptoms on executive function: The case of selecting among competing options

Hannah Snyder et al.
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
People constantly face the need to choose one option from among many, such as when selecting words to express a thought. Selecting between many options can be difficult for anyone, and can feel overwhelming for individuals with elevated anxiety. The current study demonstrates that anxiety is associated with impaired selection across three different verbal tasks, and tests the specificity of this finding to anxiety. Anxiety and depression frequently co-occur; thus, it might be assumed that they would demonstrate similar associations with selection, although they also have distinct profiles of symptoms, neuroanatomy and neurochemistry. Here, we report for the first time that anxiety and depressive symptoms counter-intuitively have opposite effects on selection among competing options. Specifically, whereas anxiety symptoms are associated with impairments in verbal selection, depressive symptoms are associated with better selection performance. Implications for understanding the mechanisms of anxiety, depression and selection are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sexes

Revisiting the Income Tax Effects of Legalizing Same-Sex Marriages

James Alm, Sebastian Leguizamon & Susane Leguizamon
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper we estimate the impacts on income tax collections of legalizing same-sex marriage. We utilize new individual-level data sources to estimate the federal income tax consequences of legalizing same-sex marriages. These data sources also allow us to estimate the impact of legalization on state income tax collections. We find that 23 states would realize a net fiscal benefit from legalization, while 21 states would experience a decline in revenue. The potential (annual) changes in state tax revenue range from negative $29 million in California to positive $16 million in New York. At the federal level, our estimates suggest an overall reduction in revenues, ranging from a potential loss of $187 million to $580 million. Overall, we find that the federal and state impacts are quite modest. We also find that our estimates are only marginally affected by alternative assumptions about how many same-sex couples will choose to marry and which partner will claim any children for tax deduction purposes.

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Tops, Bottoms, and Versatiles: What Straight Views of Penetrative Preferences Could Mean for Sexuality Claims Under Price Waterhouse

Ian Ayres & Richard Luedeman
Yale Law Journal, December 2013, Pages 714-768

Abstract:
This Essay reports the results of a survey experiment that we conducted on over eight hundred heterosexual respondents to compare associational attitudes toward gay men who engage in different types of sexual practices. Specifically, we randomly assigned respondents to hear one of three descriptions of a gay character, which differed only with regard to the character’s penetrative preference: top (preferring to penetrate one’s partner), bottom (preferring to be penetrated by one’s partner), and versatile (having an equal preference). Overall, we find that heterosexuals displayed heightened and statistically significant associational aversion toward versatile characters and, to a lesser degree, toward bottom characters, relative to respondents’ willingness to associate with top characters. We elaborate why heterosexuals seem to display systematically less associational aversion toward those men whose penetrative preference is most consistent with gender stereotypes. Based on those results, we revisit the notion, adopted by many courts, that Price Waterhouse sex-stereotyping doctrine cannot apply to sexuality claims because it would turn sexual orientation into a protected class after Congress has opted not to do so. Our results suggest that gender-motivated homophobia is not uniformly targeted toward all gay men or uniformly present among all who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. We also further consider why respondents were most averse to versatility, drawing a potential distinction between “trait opposition” and “trait intermediacy” gender violations. Finally, we discuss the implications of our findings for the broader LGBT movement in law and society.

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Genetic Factors That Increase Male Facial Masculinity Decrease Facial Attractiveness of Female Relatives

Anthony Lee et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
For women, choosing a facially masculine man as a mate is thought to confer genetic benefits to offspring. Crucial assumptions of this hypothesis have not been adequately tested. It has been assumed that variation in facial masculinity is due to genetic variation and that genetic factors that increase male facial masculinity do not increase facial masculinity in female relatives. We objectively quantified the facial masculinity in photos of identical (n = 411) and nonidentical (n = 782) twins and their siblings (n = 106). Using biometrical modeling, we found that much of the variation in male and female facial masculinity is genetic. However, we also found that masculinity of male faces is unrelated to their attractiveness and that facially masculine men tend to have facially masculine, less-attractive sisters. These findings challenge the idea that facially masculine men provide net genetic benefits to offspring and call into question this popular theoretical framework.

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Gender Differences in Risk Aversion: Do Single-Sex Environments Affect their Development?

Alison Booth, Lina Cardona-Sosa & Patrick Nolen
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Single-sex classes within coeducational environments are likely to modify students’ risk-taking attitudes in economically important ways. To test this, we designed a controlled experiment using first year college students who made choices over real-stakes lotteries at two distinct dates. Students were randomly assigned to weekly classes of three types: all female, all male, and coeducational. They were not allowed to change group subsequently. We found that women are less likely to make risky choices than men at both dates. However, after eight weeks in a single-sex class environment, women were significantly more likely to choose the lottery than their counterparts in coeducational groups. These results are robust to the inclusion of controls for IQ and for personality type, as well as to a number of sensitivity tests. Our findings suggest that observed gender differences in behaviour under uncertainty found in previous studies might partly reflect social learning rather than inherent gender traits.

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Exposure to prenatal life events stress is associated with masculinized play behavior in girls

Emily Barrett et al.
NeuroToxicology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that prenatal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can alter children's neurodevelopment, including sex-typed behavior, and that it can do so in different ways in males and females. Non-chemical exposures, including psychosocial stress, may disrupt the prenatal hormonal milieu as well. To date, only one published study has prospectively examined the relationship between exposure to prenatal stress and gender-specific play behavior during childhood, finding masculinized play behavior in girls who experienced high prenatal life events stress, but no associations in boys. Here we examine this question in a second prospective cohort from the Study for Future Families. Pregnant women completed questionnaires on stressful life events during pregnancy, and those who reported one or more events were considered “stressed”. Families were recontacted several years later (mean age of index child: 4.9 years), and mothers completed a questionnaire including the validated Preschool Activities Inventory (PSAI), which measures sexually dimorphic play behavior. In sex-stratified analyses, after adjusting for child's age, parental attitudes towards gender-atypical play, age and sex of siblings, and other relevant covariates, girls (n = 72) exposed to prenatal life events stress had higher scores on the PSAI masculine sub-scale (β=3.48, p = 0.006) and showed a trend towards higher (more masculine) composite scores (β=2.63, p = 0.08). By contrast, in males (n = 74), there was a trend towards an association between prenatal stress and higher PSAI feminine sub-scale scores (β=2.23, p = 0.10), but no association with masculine or composite scores. These data confirm previous findings in humans and animal models suggesting that prenatal stress is a non-chemical endocrine disruptor that may have androgenic effects on female fetuses and anti-androgenic effects on male fetuses.

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Moral elevation reduces prejudice against gay men

Calvin Lai, Jonathan Haidt & Brian Nosek
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Disgust is linked to social evaluation. People with higher disgust sensitivity exhibit more sexual prejudice, and inducing disgust increases sexual prejudice. We tested whether inducing moral elevation, the theoretical opposite of disgust, would reduce sexual prejudice. In four studies (N = 3622), we induced elevation with inspiring videos and then measured sexual prejudice with implicit and explicit measures. Compared to control videos that elicited no particular affective state, we found that elevation reduced implicit and explicit sexual prejudice, albeit very slightly. No effect was observed when the target of social evaluation was changed to race (Black–White). Inducing amusement, another positive emotion, did not significantly affect sexual prejudice. We conclude that elevation weakly but reliably reduces prejudice towards gay men.

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Boys will be boys: Sex differences in wild infant chimpanzee social interactions

Elizabeth Lonsdorf et al.
Animal Behaviour, February 2014, Pages 79–83

Abstract:
Sex differences in the behaviour of human children are a hotly debated and often controversial topic. However, several recent studies have documented a biological basis to key aspects of child social behaviour. To further explore the evolutionary basis of such differences, we investigated sex differences in sociability in wild chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii, infants at Gombe National Park, Tanzania. We used a long-term data set on mother–infant behaviour to analyse the diversity of infant chimpanzee social partners from age 30 to 36 months. Male infants (N = 12) interacted with significantly more individuals than female infants did (N = 8), even when maternal sociability was controlled for. Furthermore, male infants interacted with significantly more adult males than female infants did. Our data indicate that the well-documented sex differences in adult chimpanzee social tendencies begin to appear quite early in development. Furthermore, these data suggest that the behavioural sex differences of human children are fundamentally rooted in our biological and evolutionary heritage.

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Sex differences in the structural connectome of the human brain

Madhura Ingalhalikar et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sex differences in human behavior show adaptive complementarity: Males have better motor and spatial abilities, whereas females have superior memory and social cognition skills. Studies also show sex differences in human brains but do not explain this complementarity. In this work, we modeled the structural connectome using diffusion tensor imaging in a sample of 949 youths (aged 8–22 y, 428 males and 521 females) and discovered unique sex differences in brain connectivity during the course of development. Connection-wise statistical analysis, as well as analysis of regional and global network measures, presented a comprehensive description of network characteristics. In all supratentorial regions, males had greater within-hemispheric connectivity, as well as enhanced modularity and transitivity, whereas between-hemispheric connectivity and cross-module participation predominated in females. However, this effect was reversed in the cerebellar connections. Analysis of these changes developmentally demonstrated differences in trajectory between males and females mainly in adolescence and in adulthood. Overall, the results suggest that male brains are structured to facilitate connectivity between perception and coordinated action, whereas female brains are designed to facilitate communication between analytical and intuitive processing modes.

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No Evidence of Sexual Risk Compensation in the iPrEx Trial of Daily Oral HIV Preexposure Prophylaxis

Julia Marcus et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2013

Objective: Preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC/TDF) reduced HIV acquisition in the iPrEx trial among men who have sex with men and transgender women. Self-reported sexual risk behavior decreased overall, but may be affected by reporting bias. We evaluated potential risk compensation using biomarkers of sexual risk behavior.

Design and methods: Sexual practices were assessed at baseline and quarterly thereafter; perceived treatment assignment and PrEP efficacy beliefs were assessed at 12 weeks. Among participants with ≥1 follow-up behavioral assessment, sexual behavior, syphilis, and HIV infection were compared by perceived treatment assignment, actual treatment assignment, and perceived PrEP efficacy.

Results: Overall, acute HIV infection and syphilis decreased during follow-up. Compared with participants believing they were receiving placebo, participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF reported more receptive anal intercourse partners prior to initiating drug (12.8 vs. 7.7, P = 0.04). Belief in receiving FTC/TDF was not associated with an increase in receptive anal intercourse with no condom (ncRAI) from baseline through follow-up (risk ratio [RR] 0.9, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.6–1.4; P = 0.75), nor with a decrease after stopping study drug (RR 0.8, 95% CI: 0.5–1.3; P = 0.46). In the placebo arm, there were trends toward lower HIV incidence among participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.8, 95% CI: 0.4–1.8; P = 0.26) and also believing it was highly effective (IRR 0.5, 95% CI: 0.1–1.7; P = 0.12).

Conclusions: There was no evidence of sexual risk compensation in iPrEx. Participants believing they were receiving FTC/TDF had more partners prior to initiating drug, suggesting that risk behavior was not a consequence of PrEP use.

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Stereotyping to Infer Group Membership Creates Plausible Deniability for Prejudice-Based Aggression

William Cox & Patricia Devine
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the present study, participants administered painful electric shocks to an unseen male opponent who was either explicitly labeled as gay or stereotypically implied to be gay. Identifying the opponent with a gay-stereotypic attribute produced a situation in which the target’s group status was privately inferred but plausibly deniable to others. To test the plausible deniability hypothesis, we examined aggression levels as a function of internal (personal) and external (social) motivation to respond without prejudice. Whether plausible deniability was present or absent, participants high in internal motivation aggressed at low levels, and participants low in both internal and external motivation aggressed at high levels. The behavior of participants low in internal and high in external motivation, however, depended on experimental condition. They aggressed at low levels when observers could plausibly attribute their behavior to prejudice and aggressed at high levels when the situation granted plausible deniability. This work has implications for both obstacles to and potential avenues for prejudice-reduction efforts.

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Successful hunting increases testosterone and cortisol in a subsistence population

Benjamin Trumble et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 7 February 2014

Abstract:
Controversy over the adaptive significance of male hunting in subsistence societies hinges on the relative importance of familial provisioning and mate-quality signalling. This paper examines the proximate and ultimate motivations of hunting behaviour from a neuroendocrine perspective, using salivary testosterone and cortisol data collected before, during and after hunting focal follows from 31 Tsimane hunters aged 18–82 years. Despite circadian declines in hormone levels, testosterone and cortisol of Tsimane hunters increased at the time of a kill, and remained high as successful hunters returned home. Previous studies of hormonal changes during competitions find that high-stakes and success in the presence of relevant audiences result in increased neuroendocrine arousal. If men hunt primarily to provision their families, then an additional audience would not be expected to impact testosterone or cortisol, nor would the size of the animal killed. However, if signalling male quality by ‘showing off’ was a larger relative driver of men's hunting behaviour, one would expect greater hormonal response in cases where men returned with large sharable kills, especially in the presence of community members. Consistent with provisioning models of male hunting motivation, neither kill size nor encountering an audience of villagers while returning from hunting was associated with hormonal changes for successful hunters.

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Perceptions of Affectionate Communication Among People with Unfavorable and Favorable Attitudes Toward Homosexuality

Stacia Brantley-Hill & Thomas Brinthaupt
Journal of Homosexuality, February 2014, Pages 270-287

Abstract:
People are sometimes hesitant to communicate affection if it might be misinterpreted by the intended receiver or an audience. We hypothesized that anti-gay/-lesbian attitudes might negatively affect the perceived appropriateness of expressing affection. One hundred and twenty male and female undergraduates with either very high or very low levels of anti-gay/-lesbian attitudes participated in the study. They rated the appropriateness of expressing affection toward same- and other-sex targets in a set of 2 (public or private setting) × 3 (positive, neutral, or negative valence) scenarios. Results supported a “generalized inhibition” effect, with high levels of anti-gay/-lesbian attitudes associated with a reluctance to express affection regardless of target, setting, valence, or current relationship status. Implications for research on affectionate expression and anti-gay/-lesbian attitudes are presented.

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Estradiol and Mental Rotation: Relation to Dimensionality, Difficulty, or Angular Disparity?

Elizabeth Hampson, Na'ama Levy-Cooperman & Jennifer Korman
Hormones and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several studies have reported that performance on spatial rotation tests is better at menses than at high estradiol phases of the menstrual cycle in women. These effects are debated because nearly all reports of menstrual cycle variability have relied on a single test, the Mental Rotations Test (MRT, Vandenberg & Kuse, 1978). In the present study, we investigated key features of the MRT that might be responsible for its association with estradiol levels. We hypothesized that associations could be demonstrated for other tasks that share the same characteristics. Forty-four women ages 20–38 yr, matched on education and general ability, were assessed at low (n = 24) or high (n = 20) estradiol stages of the menstrual cycle on a set of spatial tests that varied in dimensionality, plane of rotation, angular disparity, and effortfulness. Saliva was used to quantify estradiol and progesterone. Low estradiol was found to be associated with significantly better accuracy on the MRT and also on a mental rotation task that required large angles of rotation but employed only two-dimensional object representations and rotations limited to the picture plane. In contrast, a task using identical stimuli that required only small angles of rotation did not show an estradiol effect. A group difference also was seen on a test of perceptual closure. The results confirm that the estradiol effect is not limited to the MRT, and identify the rotational element, but also aspects of figural perception, as possible processes that may be responsive to estrogens. These findings advance our understanding by showing an association between estradiol and discrete spatial processes. Implications for understanding the origins of the robust sex difference commonly observed on the MRT are discussed.

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2D:4D Ratio in children at familial high-risk for eating disorders: The role of prenatal testosterone exposure

Radha Kothari et al.
American Journal of Human Biology, forthcoming

Objectives: Markers of prenatal hormone exposure have been associated with the development of eating disorder (ED) behaviors. Our aim was to determine whether 2D:4D ratio, a marker for in utero testosterone exposure, is associated with risk for ED in a large population-based cohort: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

Methods: This is the first study to investigate prenatal testosterone exposure in children at high-risk for ED, using 2D:4D as a marker. We compared children whose mothers reported a lifetime ED (anorexia, bulimia, or both; N = 446) to children whose mothers did not (n = 5,367).

Results: Daughters of women with lifetime bulimia nervosa (BN) had lower 2D:4D ratio (B: −0.01, 95% CI: −0.02 to −0.002, P = 0.02), indicating higher prenatal testosterone exposure, than daughters of mothers unaffected by ED. No differences were observed in the male children of women with an ED.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that children at high-risk for BN may be exposed to higher levels of testosterone in utero. Fetal exposure to androgen excess is thought to be causal in the development of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a disorder which is highly comorbid with binge eating and BN. Future research should investigate the potential role of testosterone exposure in utero as a risk factor for BN and binge eating.

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Child Abuse as a Predictor of Gendered Sexual Orientation Disparities in Body Mass Index Trajectories Among U.S. Youth From the Growing Up Today Study

Sabra Katz-Wise et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: This research aimed to explain sexual orientation disparities in body mass index (BMI) by examining child abuse history, weight-related behaviors, and sociodemographics.

Methods: We used data from 7,960 females and 5,992 males from the prospective Growing Up Today Study over nine waves between 1996 (ages 12–14 years) and 2007 (ages 20–25 years). Using repeated measures of BMI (kg/m2) as a continuous outcome, gender-stratified latent quadratic growth models adjusted for child abuse history, weight-related behaviors, and sociodemographics. BMI at age 17 years (intercept) and 1-year change in BMI (slope) are reported.

Results: Bisexual females had higher BMI at age 17 years (β = 1.59, 95% CI = 1.00–2.18) and displayed greater one-year increases in BMI (β = .09, 95% CI = .03–.14), compared with completely heterosexual females. Gay males displayed smaller 1-year increases in BMI (β = −.19, 95% CI = −.25 to −.12), compared with completely heterosexual males. No sexual orientation differences in BMI at age 17 years were observed for males, but gay males' BMI at age 25 was less than completely heterosexual males' BMI by 2 units. Among females, sexual orientation differences remained but were slightly attenuated after controlling for child abuse history, weight-related behaviors, and sociodemographics. Among males, the addition of child abuse and weight-related behaviors did not change the estimated difference in 1-year BMI increases.

Conclusions: Sexual orientation differences in BMI were partly explained by child abuse and weight-related behaviors in females. More research is needed to explore additional drivers of these disparities among both females and males.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, January 10, 2014

Measuring up

“Last-Place Aversion”: Evidence and Redistributive Implications

Ilyana Kuziemko et al.
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We present evidence from laboratory experiments showing that individuals are “last-place averse.” Participants choose gambles with the potential to move them out of last place that they reject when randomly placed in other parts of the distribution. In modified-dictator games, participants randomly placed in second-to-last place are the most likely to give money to the person one rank above them instead of the person one rank below. Last-place aversion suggests that low-income individuals might oppose redistribution because it could differentially help the group just beneath them. Using survey data, we show that individuals making just above the minimum wage are the most likely to oppose its increase. Similarly, in the General Social Survey, those above poverty but below median-income support redistribution significantly less than their background characteristics would predict.

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Economic Freedom and Income Inequality Revisited: Evidence from a Panel Error Correction Model

Nicholas Apergis, Oguzhan Dincer & James Payne
Contemporary Economic Policy, January 2014, Pages 67–75

Abstract:
We investigate the causal relationship between income inequality and economic freedom using data from U.S. states over the period 1981 to 2004 within a panel error correction model framework. The results indicate bidirectional causality between income inequality and economic freedom in both the short and the long run. These results suggest that high income inequality may cause states to implement redistributive policies causing economic freedom to decline. As economic freedom declines, income inequality rises even more. In other words, it is quite possible for a state to get caught in a vicious circle of high income inequality and heavy redistribution.

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Better Off Than We Know: Distorted Perceptions of Incomes and Income Inequality in America

John Chambers, Lawton Swan & Martin Heesacker
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three studies examined Americans’ perceptions of incomes and income inequality using a variety of criterion measures. Contrary to recent findings indicating that Americans underestimate wealth inequality, we found that Americans not only overestimated the rise of income inequality over time, but also underestimated average incomes. Thus, economic conditions in America are more favorable than people seem to realize. Furthermore, ideological differences emerged in two of these studies, such that political liberals overestimated the rise of inequality more than political conservatives. Implications of these findings for public policy debates and ideological disagreements are discussed.

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Economic Inequality and Ideological Roll-Call Votes: Income Stratification, Minority Threat and Support for Conservative Legislation

David Jacobs, Chad Malone & Daniel Tope
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study assesses whether the growth in economic inequality since the late 1960s produced enhanced support for conservative policies in the U.S. House of Representatives. Tests of the effects of inequality and tests of hypotheses derived from minority threat theory are conducted using a pooled time-series, fixed-effects design. The political influence of the most menacing street crime the public blames on underclass minorities is captured as well. Analyses based on 1,488 state-years show that income inequality, minority presence, and the murder rates reduce liberal roll-call votes. Interactions that assess period contrasts in the strength of relationships show that increases in inequality led to greater congressional support for conservative measures particularly in the later years of the post civil rights era. Such tests also support racial threat theory because they show that a strong negative relationship between African American presence and liberal roll-call votes persisted throughout this period. Such results corroborate claims that the expansion in economic inequality since the late 1960s helped increase support for conservative legislation.

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Redistribution, Pork, and Elections

John Huber & Michael Ting
Journal of the European Economic Association, December 2013, Pages 1382–1403

Abstract:
Why might citizens vote against redistributive policies from which they would seem to benefit? Many scholars focus on ‘wedge’ issues such as religion or race, but another explanation might be geographically-based patronage — or pork. We examine the tension between redistribution and patronage with a model that combines partisan elections across multiple districts with legislation in spatial and divide-the-dollar environments. The model yields a unique equilibrium that describes the circumstances under which poor voters support right-wing parties that favor low taxes and redistribution, and under which rich voters support left-wing parties that favor high taxes and redistribution. The model suggests that one reason standard tax and transfer models of redistribution often do not capture empirical reality is that redistributive transfers are a less efficient tool for attracting votes than are more targeted policy programs. The model also underlines the central importance of party discipline during legislative bargaining in shaping the importance of redistribution in voter behavior, and it describes why right-wing parties should have an advantage over left-wing ones in majoritarian systems.

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Why the Poor Play the Lottery: Sociological Approaches to Explaining Class-based Lottery Play

Jens Beckert & Mark Lutter
Sociology, December 2013, Pages 1152-1170

Abstract:
Why do the poor spend more on lottery tickets than their wealthier and better educated peers? While social scientists generally agree that there is an inverse relationship between socio-economic position and patterns of lottery play, there is debate on what factors cause lottery gambling. Using survey data from a nationwide probability sample, we test three sociological approaches – socio-structural, cultural and social network accounts – to explain why the poor play the lottery. While controlling for cognitive bias theory, we find that peer play, educational attainment and self-perceived social deprivation have strong effects on lottery play. Culture, the study finds, plays a much lesser role. Although lottery players demonstrate fatalistic value orientations, it is not a lack of a ‘Protestant’ work ethic that makes the poor spend proportionally more on lottery tickets. The findings of this study generally point to the importance of social structures in explaining lottery gambling.

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Historical trends in the degree of federal income tax progressivity in the United States

Timothy Mathews
Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines how the degree of progressivity of the U.S. Federal income tax evolved between 1929 and 2009. Data from the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Census Bureau, and Bureau of Economic Analysis is used to construct annual tax concentration curves and income concentration curves. Numerical values of four tax progressivity indices are determined. These values suggests that: (i) the degree of progressivity has varied greatly over time, (ii) taxation outcomes have become more progressive over the past four decades, (iii) the period from the early 1950s through 1974 was one of relatively low progressivity, whereas the period from 1975 through 2009 was one of relatively high progressivity, (iv) the most progressive outcomes of the last 67 years have been realized within the past decade, and (v) recent outcomes are much less progressive than were outcomes before 1942.

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The local Joneses: Household consumption and income inequality in large metropolitan areas

Maria Charles & Jeffrey Lundy
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, December 2013, Pages 14–29

Abstract:
Do household consumption practices depend upon local standards of decency or distinction? This article explores effects of local income structure on household consumption across 18 large U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). Results show greater overall spending in high-inequality MSAs. But contrary to conventional depictions of “conspicuous consumption,” the additional spending goes mostly toward shelter and food, not more visible purchases of jewelry, vehicles, apparel, and entertainment. High median income, by contrast, is associated with greater spending in two visible goods categories (apparel and entertainment), but only among low-income households. Results support depictions of expenditure cascades, where spending by those better off ratchets up local standards of “normal” and socially acceptable living. Some unfortunate consequences include decreased investment in health care and heightened competition for access to quality public schooling. In this sense, growing economic inequality and positional consumption may be self-reinforcing processes.

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Accounting for Income Changes over the Great Recession (2007-2010) Relative to Previous Recessions: The Importance of Taxes and Transfers

Jeff Larrimore, Richard Burkhauser & Philip Armour
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
With data from the March CPS and using shift-share analysis, we analyze the factors that account for changes in post-tax post-transfer income during each of the past four recessions. What distinguishes the Great Recession is that drops in employment rather than wage earnings drove income declines. In addition, taxes and transfers played a much greater role in offsetting market income losses — a result largely missed in analyses that do not account for taxes and transfers. This is particularly so among the bottom quintile of the distribution where lower and increased transfers offset more than one-half of the market income declines.

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US household real net worth through the great recession and beyond: Have we recovered?

Lucia Dunn & Randall Olsen
Economics Letters, February 2014, Pages 272–275

Abstract:
Household data adjusted for inflation show net worth is still below its pre-Great Recession levels, unlike aggregate Federal Reserve data. Poorer and younger households both lost and recovered more net worth percentage-wise. Financial assets have recovered more than non-financial assets.

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Bones of Contention: The Political Economy of Height Inequality

Carles Boix & Frances Rosenbluth
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Human osteological data provide a rich, still-to-be-mined source of information about the distribution of nutrition and, by extension, the distribution of political power and economic wealth in societies of long ago. On the basis of data we have collected and analyzed on societies ranging from foraging communities to the ancient Egyptian and modern European monarchies, we find that the shift from hunting and gathering to complex fishing techniques and to labor-intensive agriculture opened up inequalities that had discernible effects on human health and stature. But we also find that political institutions intervened decisively in the distribution of resources within societies. Political institutions appear to be shaped not only by economic factors but also by military technology and vulnerability to invasion.

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Anti-equality: Social comparison in young children

Mark Sheskin, Paul Bloom & Karen Wynn
Cognition, February 2014, Pages 152–156

Abstract:
Young children dislike getting less than others, which might suggest a general preference for equal outcomes. However, young children are typically not averse to others receiving less than themselves. These results are consistent with two alternatives: young children might not have any preferences about others receiving less than themselves, or they might have preferences for others receiving less than themselves. We test these alternatives with 5- to 10-year-old children. We replicate previous findings that children will take a cost to avoid being at a relative disadvantage, but also find that 5- and 6-year-olds will spitefully take a cost to ensure that another’s welfare falls below their own. This result suggests that the development of fairness includes overcoming an initial social comparison preference for others to get less relative to oneself.

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Individual Differences in Social Dominance Orientation Predict Support for the Use of Cognitive Ability Tests

Anita Kim & Christopher Berry
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: To investigate the personality processes involved in the debate surrounding the use of cognitive ability tests in college admissions.

Method: In Study 1, 108 undergraduates (18.88 years, 60 women, 80 Whites) completed measures of Social Dominance Orientation (SDO), testing self-efficacy, and attitudes regarding the use of cognitive ability tests in college admissions; SAT/ACT scores were collected from the Registrar. Sixty-seven undergraduates (19.06 years, 39 women, 49 Whites) completed the same measures in Study 2 along with measures of endorsement of commonly presented arguments about test use. In Study 3, 321 American adults (35.58 years, 180 women, 251 Whites) completed the same measures used in Study 2; half were provided with facts about race and validity issues surrounding cognitive ability tests.

Results: Individual differences in SDO significantly predicted support for the use of cognitive ability tests in all samples, after controlling for SAT/ACT scores and test self-efficacy and also among participants who read facts about cognitive ability tests. Moreover, arguments for and against test use mediated this effect.

Conclusion: The present study sheds new light on an old debate by demonstrating that individual differences in beliefs about hierarchy play a key role in attitudes toward cognitive ability test use.

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Democracy, Redistribution and Inequality

Daron Acemoglu et al.
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
In this paper we revisit the relationship between democracy, redistribution and inequality. We first explain the theoretical reasons why democracy is expected to increase redistribution and reduce inequality, and why this expectation may fail to be realized when democracy is captured by the richer segments of the population; when it caters to the preferences of the middle class; or when it opens up disequalizing opportunities to segments of the population previously excluded from such activities, thus exacerbating inequality among a large part of the population. We then survey the existing empirical literature, which is both voluminous and full of contradictory results. We provide new and systematic reduced-form evidence on the dynamic impact of democracy on various outcomes. Our findings indicate that there is a significant and robust effect of democracy on tax revenues as a fraction of GDP, but no robust impact on inequality. We also find that democracy is associated with an increase in secondary schooling and a more rapid structural transformation. Finally, we provide some evidence suggesting that inequality tends to increase after democratization when the economy has already undergone significant structural transformation, when land inequality is high, and when the gap between the middle class and the poor is small. All of these are broadly consistent with a view that is different from the traditional median voter model of democratic redistribution: democracy does not lead to a uniform decline in post-tax inequality, but can result in changes in fiscal redistribution and economic structure that have ambiguous effects on inequality.

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Income Inequality, International Migration, and National Pride: A Test of Social Identification Theory

Kyung Joon Han
International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Winter 2013, Pages 502-521

Abstract:
Does the income inequality of a country increase the nationalistic sentiments of its citizens? If so, why do people become more nationalistic when inequality grows? This article answers these questions, which have been historically observed and theoretically suggested, but rarely answered with empirical tests. By borrowing formal models in Shayo (2009) and using a multilevel analysis method with survey data in multiple years, this article shows that income inequality increases the national pride of poor people, which is an essential aspect of nationalistic sentiments, particularly in countries whose lower class has many migrants. This result implies that the link between income inequality, income levels, and nationalistic sentiments may be shaped by other social features such as the level of migration.

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Taxation of Human Capital and Wage Inequality: A Cross-Country Analysis

Fatih Guvenen, Burhanettin Kuruscu & Serdar Ozkan
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Wage inequality has been significantly higher in the United States than in continental European countries (CEU) since the 1970s. Moreover, this inequality gap has further widened during this period as the US has experienced a large increase in wage inequality, whereas the CEU has seen only modest changes. This paper studies the role of labor income tax policies for understanding these facts, focusing on male workers. We construct a life cycle model in which individuals decide each period whether to go to school, work, or stay non-employed. Individuals can accumulate human capital either in school or while working. Wage inequality arises from differences across individuals in their ability to learn new skills as well as from idiosyncratic shocks. Progressive taxation compresses the (after-tax) wage structure, thereby distorting the incentives to accumulate human capital, in turn reducing the cross-sectional dispersion of (before-tax) wages. Consistent with the model, we empirically document that countries with more progressive labor income tax schedules have (i) significantly lower before-tax wage inequality at different points in time and (ii) experienced a smaller rise in wage inequality since the early 1980s. We then study the calibrated model and find that these policies can account for half of the difference between the US and the CEU in overall wage inequality and 84% of the difference in inequality at the upper end (log 90-50 differential). In a two-country comparison between the US and Germany, the combination of skill-biased technical change and changing progressivity of tax schedules explains all the difference between the evolution of inequality in these two countries since the early 1980s.

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Optimal Redistribution: A Life-Cycle Perspective

Jean-Baptiste Michau
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper, I characterize the optimal redistribution policy in a simple life-cycle framework with both an intensive and an extensive margin of labor supply. The extensive margin corresponds to the choice of a retirement age. The optimal allocation cannot be implemented in a decentralized economy by a standard non-linear income tax alone. It can however be implemented by a history-dependent social security system which redistributes resources across agents. A calibration of the model to the U.S. economy reveals that the retirement age should optimally be sharply increasing in productivity and that implementing the optimal life-cycle redistribution policy can generate large social welfare gains.

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Height, Skills, and Labor Market Outcomes in Mexico

Tom Vogl
Journal of Development Economics, March 2014, Pages 84–96

Abstract:
Taller workers are paid higher wages. A prominent explanation for this pattern is that physical growth and cognitive development share childhood inputs, inducing a correlation between adult height and two productive skills: strength and intelligence. This paper explores the relative roles of strength and intelligence in explaining the labor market height premium among Mexican men. While cognitive test scores account for a limited share of the height premium, roughly half of the premium can be attributed to the educational and occupational choices of taller workers. Taller workers obtain more education and sort into occupations with greater intelligence requirements and lower strength requirements, suggesting a possible role for cognitive skill.

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Unions, Wage Gaps, and Wage Dispersion: New Evidence from the Americas

Fernando Rios-Avila & Barry Hirsch
Industrial Relations, January 2014, Pages 1–27

Abstract:
Using a common methodology, the effects of unions on wage levels and wage dispersion are estimated for two neighboring countries, Bolivia and Chile, and for the United States. The analysis shows that unions have broadly similar effects on the wage distribution within these three economies. The findings suggest that the political economy of unions, coupled with market constraints on labor costs, produce commonality in union wage effects that transcend other economic and institutional differences.

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Endogenous Property Rights

Daniel Diermeier, Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
It is often argued that additional checks and balances provide economic agents with better protection from expropriation of their wealth or productive capital. We demonstrate that in a dynamic political economy model this intuition may be flawed. Surprisingly, increasing the number of veto players or the majority requirement for redistribution may reduce property right protection on the equilibrium path. The reason is the existence of two distinct mechanisms of property rights protection. One are formal constraints that allow individuals or groups to block any redistribution which is not in their favor. The other occurs in equilibrium where agents without such powers protect each other from redistribution. Players without formal blocking power anticipate that the expropriation of other similar players will ultimately hurt them and thus combine their influence to prevent redistributions. Yet, such incentives can be undermined by adding formal constraints. The flip-side of this effect is that individual investment efforts might require coordination. The model also predicts that the distribution of wealth in societies with weaker formal institutions (smaller supermajority requirements) among players without veto power will tend to be more homogenous.

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A Distributional Analysis of the Benefits of Economic Freedom

Ryan Compton, Daniel Giedeman & Gary Hoover
European Journal of Political Economy, March 2014, Pages 121–133

Abstract:
Using US state-level economic freedom measures, we investigate the extent that changes in economic freedom affect US State income growth. More importantly, we study how this effect differs across income quintiles, allowing us to address the particularly timely question of who benefits from increases in economic freedom and who does not. Our results indicate that while increases in economic freedom positively contribute to income growth, the strength of this effect differs across quintiles.

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Socio-economic inequalities in all-cause mortality in Europe: An exploration of the role of heightened social mobility

Audrey Simons, Daniëlle Groffen & Hans Bosma
European Journal of Public Health, December 2013, Pages 1010-1012

Abstract:
The larger than expected socio-economic inequalities in health in more egalitarian countries might be explained by a heightened social mobility in these countries. Therefore, the aim of this explorative study was to examine the associations between country-level social mobility, income inequality and socio-economic differences in all-cause mortality, using country-level secondary data from 12 European countries. Both income equality and social mobility were found to be associated with larger socio-economic differences in mortality, particularly in women. These findings suggest that social mobility and income equality, beside their shiny side of improving population health, might have a shady side of increasing socio-economic health inequalities.

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Income inequality and sexually transmitted infections in the United States: Who bears the burden?

Guy Harling et al.
Social Science & Medicine, February 2014, Pages 174–182

Abstract:
Three causal processes have been proposed to explain associations between group income inequality and individual health outcomes, each of which implies health effects for different segments of the population. We present a novel conceptual and analytic framework for the quantitative evaluation of these pathways, assessing the contribution of: (i) absolute deprivation – affecting the poor in all settings – using family income; (ii) structural inequality – affecting all those in unequal settings – using the Gini coefficient; and (iii) relative deprivation – affecting only the poor in unequal settings – using the Yitzhaki index. We conceptualize relative deprivation as the interaction of the other two measures. We test our approach using hierarchical models of 11,183 individuals in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). We examine the relationship between school-level inequality and sexually transmitted infections (STI) – self-reported or laboratory-confirmed Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea or Trichomoniasis. Results suggest that increased poverty and inequality were both independently associated with STI diagnosis, and that being poor in an unequal community imposed an additional risk. However, the effects of inequality and relative deprivation were confounded by individuals’ race/ethnicity.

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Distributional Characteristics of Income Insecurity in the U.S., Germany, and Britain

Nicholas Rohde, Kam Ki Tang & Prasada Rao
Review of Income and Wealth, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies income volatility using recent data from the Cross National Equivalence File (CNEF). Measures of downward instability are applied to household income streams and the results are interpreted as indicators of income insecurity. Using this method we examine (i) cross national differences in average insecurity levels, (ii) the effects of taxes and transfers, and (iii) relationships between the insecurity index and household income. Insecurity estimates based on pre-government incomes are highest in Britain and lowest in Germany, however results for post-government incomes are highest in the U.S. It is also shown that insecurity estimates based upon pre-government incomes are heavily concentrated at the lower end of the distribution; although governments are effective at smoothing the income streams of these households. We also search for determinants of our measure and find that gender, household size, health status, and industry affiliations of the household head are the most significant covariates.

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Material Deprivation, Economic Stress, and Reference Groups in Europe: An Analysis of EU-SILC 2009

Christopher Whelan & Bertrand Maître
European Sociological Review, December 2013, Pages 1162-1174

Abstract:
In this article, we take advantage of the recent availability of data from the special module on material deprivation in the 2009 European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between material deprivation and economic stress, the mediating and moderating roles played by cross-national differences in levels of income and income inequality, and the implications for competing perspectives on the nature of reference groups in Europe. The article establishes the critical role of basic deprivation, relating to inability to enjoy customary standards of living, in influencing economic stress levels. National income levels and inequality had no direct influence on economic stress. However, the impact of basic deprivation was stronger in countries with higher levels of income, indicating the crucial role of national reference groups. An interaction between basic deprivation and income inequality was also observed. However, contrary to the expectation that experiencing basic deprivation in a national context of high income inequality is likely to be particularly stressful, the consequences of such deprivation were most negative in low inequality countries. Experiencing basic deprivation where high income levels and lower inequality would lead to the expectation that such deprivation is eminently avoidable exacerbates its impact.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Reigning men

Women’s Bragging Rights: Overcoming Modesty Norms to Facilitate Women’s Self-Promotion

Jessi Smith & Meghan Huntoon
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Within American gender norms is the expectation that women should be modest. We argue that violating this “modesty norm” by boasting about one’s accomplishments causes women to experience uncomfortable situational arousal that leads to lower motivation for and performance on a self-promotion task. We hypothesized that such negative effects could be offset when an external source for their situational arousal was made available. To test hypotheses, 78 women students from a U.S. Northwestern university wrote a scholarship application essay to promote the merits of either the self (modesty norm violated) or another person as a letter of reference (modesty norm not violated). Half were randomly assigned to hear information about a (fake) subliminal noise generator in the room that might cause “discomfort” (misattribution available) and half were told nothing about the generator (normal condition: misattribution not available). Participants rated the task and 44 new naive participants judged how much scholarship money to award each essay. Results confirmed predictions: under normal conditions, violating the modesty norm led to decreased motivation and performance. However, those who violated the modesty norm with a misattribution source reported increased interest, adopted fewer performance-avoidance goals, perceived their own work to be of higher quality, and produced higher quality work. Results suggest that when a situation helps women to escape the discomfort of defying the modesty norm, self-promotion motivation and performance improve. Further implications for enhancing women’s academic and workplace experiences are discussed.

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The Menstrual Cycle and Performance Feedback Alter Gender Differences in Competitive Choices

David Wozniak, William Harbaugh & Ulrich Mayr
Journal of Labor Economics, January 2014, Pages 161-198

Abstract:
We use a within-subjects experiment with math and word tasks to show that relative performance feedback moves high-ability females toward more competitive forms of compensation, moves low-ability men toward less competitive forms, and eliminates gender differences in choices. We also examine females across the menstrual cycle and find that women in the high-hormone phase are more willing to compete than women in the low-hormone phase. There are no significant differences between choices after subjects receive feedback. Thus, biological differences lead to economically significant differences, but the impact of those differences can be lowered through relative performance information.

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A naturalistic study of stereotype threat in young female chess players

Hank Rothgerber & Katie Wolsiefer
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, January 2014, Pages 79-90

Abstract:
The present research sought to determine whether young female chess players would demonstrate stereotype threat susceptibility in a naturalistic environment. Data from 12 scholastic chess tournaments indicated that females performed worse than expected when playing against a male opponent, achieving 83% of the expected success based on their own and their opponent’s prerating. These effects were strongest for the youngest players in lower elementary school but also present for those in upper elementary. Stereotype threat susceptibility was most pronounced in contexts that could be considered challenging: when playing a strong or moderate opponent and when playing someone in a higher or the same grade. As evidence of disengagement, those most vulnerable to stereotype threat were less likely to continue playing in future chess tournaments. These results were not found in a matched comparison male group suggesting the outcomes were unique to stereotype threat and not universal to young chess players.

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Does mandatory gender balance work? Changing organizational form to avoid board upheaval

Øyvind Bøhren & Siv Staubo
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Norway is the first, and so far only, country to mandate a minimum fraction of female and male directors on corporate boards. We find that after a new gender balance law surprisingly stipulated that the firm must be liquidated unless at least 40% of its directors are of each gender, half the firms exit to an organizational form not exposed to the law. This response suggests that forced gender balance is costly. The costs are also firm-specific, because exit is more common when the firm is non-listed, successful, small, young, has powerful owners, no dominating family owner, and few female directors. These characteristics reflect high costs of involuntary board restructuring and low costs of abandoning the exposed organizational form. Correspondingly, certain unexposed firms hesitate to become exposed. Overall, we find that mandatory gender balance may produce firms with inefficient organizational forms or inefficient boards.

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Females and Precarious Board Positions: Further Evidence of the Glass Cliff

Mark Mulcahy & Carol Linehan
British Journal of Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
The ‘glass cliff’ posits that when women achieve high profile roles, these are at firms in precarious positions. Previous research analysed appointments (male/female), estimated the precariousness of firms involved and drew inferences about the glass cliff. This study is different as it directly tests the relationship between a precarious situation and changes in board gender diversity. The sample is companies listed on the UK stock exchange reporting an initial loss in the years 2004–2006. A matched control sample is used in a difference-in-differences analysis to avoid inadvertently attributing improvements arising from societal/regulatory changes in gender diversity to the loss event. Findings suggest that when the loss is ‘big’ there is a difference in the increase in gender diversity versus both the control and the ‘small’ loss subsamples, i.e. compelling evidence of the glass cliff. In the context of ongoing political and social debates about women on boards our work (i) identifies continuing structural barriers for women ascending to board level in that women are more likely to be over-represented on boards of companies that are more precarious and (ii) sounds a note of caution about celebrating increased gender diversity on boards without considering the precariousness of the company involved.

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The Ripple Effects of Stranger Harassment on Objectification of Self and Others

Meghan Davidson, Sarah Gervais & Lindsey Sherd
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite the frequency and negative consequences of stranger harassment, only a scant number of studies have explicitly examined stranger harassment and its consequences through the lens of objectification theory. The current study introduced and tested a mediation model in which women’s experiences of stranger harassment may lead to self-objectification, which in turn may lead to objectification of other people. To examine this model, undergraduate women (N = 501) completed measures of stranger harassment (including the verbal harassment and sexual pressure subscales of the Stranger Harassment Index), body surveillance, and objectification of other women and men. Consistent with hypotheses, significant positive correlations emerged among total stranger harassment, verbal harassment, sexual pressure, body surveillance, and other-objectification of women. Other-objectification of men showed a similar pattern of results, with the exception of being unrelated to total stranger harassment and sexual pressure. Consistent with the proposed model, body surveillance was a significant mediator of the relation between total stranger harassment and other-objectification of both women and men, as well as the relation between verbal harassment and other-objectification of both women and men. Theoretical and practical implications, as well as future directions for research on stranger harassment, are discussed.

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A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter

Claudia Goldin
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The converging roles of men and women are among the grandest advances in society and the economy in the last century. These aspects of the grand gender convergence are figurative chapters in a history of gender roles. But what must the “last” chapter contain for there to be equality in the labor market? The answer may come as a surprise. The solution does not (necessarily) have to involve government intervention and it need not make men more responsible in the home (although that wouldn’t hurt). But it must involve changes in the labor market, in particular how jobs are structured and remunerated to enhance temporal flexibility. The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might vanish altogether if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who labored long hours and worked particular hours. Such change has taken off in various sectors, such as technology, science and health, but is less apparent in the corporate, financial and legal worlds.

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Degrees Are Forever: Marriage, Educational Investment, and Lifecycle Labor Decisions of Men and Women

Mary Ann Bronson
University of California Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
Women attend college today at much higher rates than men. They also select disproportionately into low-paying majors, with almost no gender convergence along this margin since the mid-1980s. In this paper, I explain the dynamics of the gender differences in college attendance and choice of major from 1960 to 2010. I document first that changes in returns to skill over time and gender differences in wage premiums across majors cannot explain the observed gender gaps in educational choices. I then provide reduced-form evidence that two factors help explain the observed gender gaps:
rst, college degrees provide insurance against very low income for women, especially in case of divorce; second, majors differ substantially in the degree of "work-family flexibility" they offer, such as the size of wage penalties for temporary reductions in labor supply. Based on the reduced-form evidence, I construct and estimate a dynamic structural model of marriage, educational choices, and lifetime labor supply. I use the model to analyze the contribution of changes in wages and changes in the marriage market to the observed educational investment patterns over time. I estimate that the insurance value of the college degree for women in case of divorce is equivalent to about 31% of the college wage premium. I also estimate that the share of women choosing high-return science and business majors would increase from 34% to 45% if wage penalties for labor supply reductions were equalized across occupations. Finally, I test the effects of two sets of policies on individuals' choice of major: a di erential tuition policy that charges less for science and technical majors, as has been proposed in some states; and interventions intended to improve work-family flexibility. My results show that some family-friendly policies increase the share of women in science and business majors substantially, while others further widen both college gender gaps.

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Just Like a Woman? Effects of Gender-Biased Perceptions of Friendship Network Brokerage on Attributions and Performance

Raina Brands & Martin Kilduff
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do women face bias in the social realm in which they are purported to excel? Across two different studies (one organizational and one comprising MBA teams), we examined whether the friendship networks around women tend to be systematically misperceived and whether there were effects of these misperceptions on the women themselves and their teammates. Thus, we investigated the possibility (hitherto neglected in the network literature) that biases in friendship networks are triggered not just by the complexity of social relationships but also by the gender of those being perceived. Study 1 showed that, after controlling for actual network positions, men, relative to women, were perceived to occupy agentic brokerage roles in the friendship network — those roles involving less constraint and higher betweenness and outdegree centrality. Study 2 showed that if a team member misperceived a woman to occupy such roles, the woman was seen as competent but not warm. Furthermore, to the extent that gender stereotypes were endorsed by many individuals in the team, women performed worse on their individual tasks. But teams in which members fell back on well-rehearsed perceptions of gender roles (men rather than women misperceived as brokers) performed better than teams in which members tended toward misperceiving women occupying agentic brokerage roles. Taken together, these results contribute to unlocking the mechanisms by which social networks affect women's progress in organizations.

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The Plateau in U.S. Women's Labor Force Participation: A Cohort Analysis

Jin Young Lee
Industrial Relations, January 2014, Pages 46–71

Abstract:
After going up steadily for the last century, the female labor force participation (FLFP) rate in the United States suddenly leveled off in the early 1990s. Using March Current Population Survey data, I find that the FLFP stopped rising for birth cohorts from the 1950s on. My shift-share analyses show that both the plateau and the earlier upward trend in FLFP appeared within almost every category broken down by education, marital status, and child-rearing.

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Leader self-awareness: An examination and implications of women's under-prediction

Rachel Sturm et al.
Journal of Organizational Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Self-awareness represents an important aspect of leadership. However, past research on leader self-awareness has focused on one component of self-awareness, self versus others' ratings, leaving the second component, the ability to anticipate the views of others, largely neglected. We examined this second component of self-awareness by focusing on women leaders who have been found to under-predict how others rate them. In two studies, we measured how women leaders anticipate the views of their bosses in regard to their leadership. In Study 1, 194 leaders rated their leadership, were rated by their bosses, and then predicted how their bosses rated their leadership. While we found that women under-predict their boss ratings compared with men, we did not find that boss gender or feedback played a role in this under-prediction. In Study 2, 76 female leaders identified (via open-ended questions) possible reasons and consequences of under-prediction for women in organizations. Results from Study 2 reveal the following: (1) the reasons for women's under-prediction include a lack of self-confidence, differences in feedback needs, learned gender roles, and self-sexism; and (2) the perceived consequences of under-prediction are negative for both women and the organization.

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When door holding harms: Gender and the consequences of non-normative help

Megan McCarty & Janice Kelly
Social Influence, forthcoming

Abstract:
This work explored the potential negative consequences of unexpected help. A behavioral observation and a survey study found that men are unlikely to have the door held open for them in a chivalrous manner, whereby they walk through the door before the person helping them does. In an experimental field study, passersby were randomly assigned to experience this type of door-holding help or not. Males who had the door held for them in this manner by a male confederate reported lower self-esteem and self-efficacy than males who did not have the door held for them. Females were unaffected by door-holding condition. These results demonstrate negative consequences of seemingly innocuous but unexpected helping behavior that violates gender norms.

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Gender differences in the association of a high quality job and self-esteem over time: A multiwave study

Anita Keller et al.
European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
High self-esteem often predicts job-related outcomes, such as high job satisfaction or high status. Theoretically, high quality jobs (HQJs) should be important for self-esteem, as they enable people to use a variety of skills and attribute accomplishments to themselves, but research findings are mixed. We expected reciprocal relationships between self-esteem and HQJ. However, as work often is more important for the status of men, we expected HQJ to have a stronger influence on self-esteem for men as compared to women. Conversely, task-related achievements violate gender stereotypes for women, who may need high self-esteem to obtain HQJs. In a 4-year cross-lagged panel analysis with 325 young workers, self-esteem predicted HQJ; the lagged effect from HQJ on self-esteem was marginally significant. In line with the hypotheses, the multigroup model showed a significant path only from self-esteem to HQJ for women, and from HQJ to self-esteem for men. The reverse effect was not found for women, and only marginally significant for men. Overall, although there were some indications for reciprocal effects, our findings suggest that women need high self-esteem to obtain HQJs to a greater degree than men, and that men base their self-esteem on HQJs to a greater extent than women.

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Access to Networks in Genderized Contexts: The Construction of Hierarchical Networks and Inequalities in Feminized, Caring and Masculinized, Technical Occupations

Tina Forsberg Kankkunen
Gender, Work & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article aims to contribute knowledge on how access to hierarchical networks of communication is constructed through organizational contexts associated with the gendered nature of feminized, caring work and masculinized, technical work, respectively. The article is based on interviews with 43 middle managers. Both men and women in male-dominated technical occupations and female-dominated caring occupations were interviewed. Eight interviews with politicians and strategic managers were also carried out. The results show that middle managers' access to hierarchical networks differs between feminized and masculinized contexts; hierarchical networks between organizational levels are common in male-dominated technical jobs, while such networks are almost non-existent in female-dominated caring occupations. The results illustrate how organizational conditions follow the gender segregation in organizations and the labour market and, further, how these contexts shape men's and women's access to hierarchical networks. The results also illustrate how the patterns of networks create and reproduce inequalities in sex-segregated organizations.

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Gender Distribution of U.S. Medical School Faculty By Academic Track Type

Anita Mayer et al.
Academic Medicine, forthcoming

Purpose: Over the past 30 years, the number and type of academic faculty tracks have increased, and researchers have found differences in promotion rates between track types. The authors studied the gender distribution of medical school faculty on the traditional tenure track (TTT) and clinician-educator track (CET) types.

Method: The authors analyzed gender and academic track type distribution data from the March 31, 2011, snapshot of the Association of American Medical Colleges' Faculty Roster. Their final analysis included data from the 123 medical schools offering the TTT type and the 106 offering the CET type, which excluded any schools with 10 or fewer faculty on each track type.

Results: The original dataset included 134 medical schools representing 138,508 full-time faculty members, 50,376 (36%) of whom were women. Of the 134 medical schools, 128 reported at least one of four track types: TTT, CET, research track, and other. Of the 83 medical schools offering the CET type, 64 (77%) had a higher proportion of female than male faculty on that track type. Of the 102 medical schools offering the TTT type, only 20 (20%) had a higher proportion of female than male faculty on that track type.

Conclusions: Medical schools offering the CET type reported higher proportions of female faculty on that track type. Given that faculty on the CET type lag behind their TTT colleagues in academic promotion, these findings may contribute to continued challenges in gaining academic and leadership parity for women in academic medicine.

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Divergent effects of system justification salience on the academic self-assessments of men and women

Virginie Bonnot & John Jost
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Based on system justification theory, we hypothesized that, when the salience of system justification concerns are high, both men and women would bias estimates of their own and their group’s academic competence so as to make them more congruent with complementary gender stereotypes concerning mathematical and verbal abilities. Results show that, compared to men, women reported lesser competence and recalled lower achievement scores in math following the activation of system justification concerns, while at the same time reporting greater competence in verbal domains, albeit less strongly. Concerning perceptions of their group’s competence, men endorsed complementary gender stereotypes more strongly in the high (vs. low) system justification salience condition. However, women were less prone to endorse abstract gender stereotypes when system justification was made salient, which may suggest reactance rather than acquiescence.

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Support for employment equity policies: A self-enhancement approach

Ivona Hideg & Lance Ferris
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, January 2014, Pages 49–64

Abstract:
The effectiveness of employment equity (EE) policies has been hindered by negative reactions to these policies. We draw on the self-enhancement literature to expand self-interest accounts of reactions to EE policies to explain inconsistent findings showing that both nonbeneficiaries and beneficiaries react negatively to EE policies. Across four studies, we found that self-image threat influences reactions to gender-based EE policies. Studies 1 and 2 established that EE policies threaten the self-images of both men (nonbeneficiaries) and women (beneficiaries). Study 3 found that those least likely to experience self-image threat when faced with a gender-based EE policy are the most likely to show positive reactions to EE policies, while Study 4 showed that both men and women react more favorably to EE policies when self-images threats are mitigated through a self-affirmation task. Implications for our understanding of reactions to EE policies are discussed.

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Feminists who flaunt it: Exploring the enjoyment of sexualization among young feminist women

Mindy Erchull & Miriam Liss
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, December 2013, Pages 2341–2349

Abstract:
The phenomenon of women enjoying sexualized male attention has recently been operationalized and found to be related to primarily traditional and sexist beliefs, but some argue that enjoying sexiness can be a feminist act. This study assessed the extent to which 326 self-identified heterosexual feminist women reported that they enjoyed sexualization and how this related to beliefs about the need for social change. Results indicated that enjoying sexualization was related to a mix of feminist and traditional beliefs. Paradoxically, feminists who enjoyed sexualization felt empowered but were less likely to notice personal social injustice or continued gender inequity. Whether embracing empowered sexuality is related to a more general gender empowerment is discussed.

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Intergroup Competition as a Double-Edged Sword: How Sex Composition Regulates the Effects of Competition on Group Creativity

Markus Baer et al.
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Building on social role theory, we extend a contingency perspective on intergroup competition proposing that having groups compete against one another is stimulating to the creativity of groups composed largely or exclusively of men but detrimental to the creativity of groups composed largely or exclusively of women. We tested this idea in two separate studies: a laboratory experiment (Study 1) and a field study (Study 2). Study 1 showed that competition had the expected positive effects on the creativity of groups composed mostly or exclusively of men and produced the predicted negative effects on the creativity of groups composed of women, even though the latter effects emerged at the high end of the competition spectrum and for sex-homogeneous groups only. Results of Study 1 also revealed that within-group collaboration mediated the joint effects of competition and sex composition on group creativity. Study 2 replicated the results of Study 1 in a field setting involving research and development teams. We discuss the implications of these findings for theory and practice.

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Anti-feminist backlash: The role of system justification in the rejection of feminism

Amy Yeung, Aaron Kay & Jennifer Peach
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
System justification theory (SJT) posits that people are motivated to believe that the social system they live in is fair, desirable, and how it should be, especially in contexts that heighten the system justification motive. Past researchers have suggested that opposition to feminists may be motivated by the threat that feminism presents to the legitimacy of the status quo, but this hypothesis has not been tested empirically. In this article, we present three studies that directly test the idea that antifeminist backlash can be motivated by system justification. Studies 1 and 2 experimentally manipulated the SJ motive and a female target’s feminist identification (feminist vs. nonfeminist). Study 3 tested the hypothesis by measuring participants’ SJ motivation via an individual difference measure. Participants disagreed more with identical statements about gender issues made by the feminist target than the nonfeminist target, but only when the system justification motive was heightened (Study 2) or chronically high (Study 3).

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Objectifying Media: Their Effect on Gender Role Norms and Sexual Harassment of Women

Silvia Galdi, Anne Maass & Mara Cadinu
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across two studies, we investigated the hypothesis that exposure to objectifying television in which women are shown as sexual objects increases the likelihood of harassing conduct. In both studies (Ns = 141; 120), male participants were exposed to one of the three TV clips in which women were portrayed (a) as sexual objects (objectifying TV), (b) in professional roles, or (c) excluded (a nature documentary). Study 1 showed that men exposed to objectifying TV reported greater proclivity to engage in sexual coercion and manifested more gender-harassing behavior than participants in the other conditions. Study 2 further demonstrated that exposure to objectifying TV increased participants’ conformity to masculine gender role norms, which, in turn, mediated the relation between experimental condition and gender harassment. Together, the two studies suggest that media content plays a central role in activating harassment-related social norms, which in turn encourage or inhibit harassing conduct.

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Looking up versus looking down: Attractiveness-based organizational biases are moderated by social comparison direction

Maria Agthe et al.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Organizational decision-making research demonstrates an abundance of positive biases directed toward attractive individuals. However, recent research suggests that these favorable consequences of attractiveness do not hold when the person being evaluated is of the same sex as the evaluator. In the current study, participants evaluated prospective job candidates and indicated their desire to interact socially with the candidate. Results indicated positive responses toward attractive other-sex targets but not toward attractive same-sex targets. This pattern was moderated by participants' social comparison orientation: People who tended to engage in downward (rather than upward) social comparison displayed stronger reactions to attractive comparison targets. They indicated less desire to interact socially with attractive same-sex job candidates than those who tend to engage in upward social comparison.

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Sex-Based Salary Disparity and the Uses of Multiple Regression for Definition and Remediation

Magdalene Chalikia & Verlin Hinsz
Current Psychology, December 2013, Pages 374-387

Abstract:
Although sex differences in salaries are widely condemned, some organizations tolerate these disparities. When organizations are found to discriminate against women in salaries for the same jobs as men, a number of remedies can be pursued. This study illustrates how a state university responded to demonstrated sex-based salary disparities identified in a class-action lawsuit. In particular, a regression analysis was conducted for male and female faculty members that also included seven other predictors. Statistical differences between male and female faculty members were found. As part of the remediation, the salaries of 39 women faculty members were increased. Subsequent regression analysis indicated that the effect for faculty member sex no longer reached traditional levels of statistical significance. The court-order remediation was deemed to have removed the sex-based salary disparity. Yet, it is not clear that the post-remediation salaries of the women faculty were perceived as fair. This case demonstrates how concepts from regression can be (mis)used in legal cases of salary fairness and disparity.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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