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Monday, March 16, 2015

Backwater

Premature Deindustrialization

Dani Rodrik
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
I document a significant deindustrialization trend in recent decades, that goes considerably beyond the advanced, post-industrial economies. The hump-shaped relationship between industrialization (measured by employment or output shares) and incomes has shifted downwards and moved closer to the origin. This means countries are running out of industrialization opportunities sooner and at much lower levels of income compared to the experience of early industrializers. Asian countries and manufactures exporters have been largely insulated from those trends, while Latin American countries have been especially hard hit. Advanced economies have lost considerable employment (especially of the low-skill type), but they have done surprisingly well in terms of manufacturing output shares at constant prices. While these trends are not very recent, the evidence suggests both globalization and labor-saving technological progress in manufacturing have been behind these developments. Premature deindustrialization has potentially significant economic and political ramifications, including lower economic growth and democratic failure.

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Economic Growth and Judicial Independence, a Dozen Years On: Cross-Country Evidence Using an Updated Set of Indicators

Stefan Voigt, Jerg Gutmann & Lars Feld
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over 10 years ago, Feld and Voigt (2003) introduced an indicator for objectively measuring the actual independence of the judiciary and demonstrated its utility in a large cross-section of countries. The indicator has been widely used, but also criticized. Many new indicators for judicial independence have been developed since. Yet, all of them are based on subjective evaluations by experts or confined to measuring the legally prescribed level of independence. This paper presents more recent data on de jure and de facto judicial independence (JI) and strongly confirms previous results that de jure JI is not systematically related to economic growth, whereas de facto JI is highly significantly and robustly correlated with growth. In addition, we show that the effect of de facto JI depends on the institutional environment, but not on a country’s initial per capita income.

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Institutions Do Not Rule: Reassessing the Driving Forces of Economic Development

Jinfeng Luo & Yi Wen
Federal Reserve Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
We use cross-country data and instrumental variables widely used in the literature to show that (i) institutions (such as property rights and the rule of law) do not explain industrialization and (ii) agrarian countries and industrial countries have entirely different determinants for income levels. In particular, geography, rather than institutions, explains the income differences among agrarian countries, while institutions appear to matter only for income variations in industrial economies. Moreover, we find it is the stage of economic development (or the absence/presence of industrialization) that explains a country’s quality of institutions rather than vice versa. The finding that institutions do not explain industrialization but are instead explained by industrialization lends support to the well-received view among prominent economic historians — that institutional changes in 17th and 18th century England did not cause the Industrial Revolution.

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Two Italies? Genes, intelligence and the Italian North–South economic divide

Vittorio Daniele
Intelligence, March–April 2015, Pages 44–56

Abstract:
The thesis that socio-economic disparities between Southern and Northern Italian regions are explained by genetic differences in the average IQ is examined (Lynn, 2010a, 2012). Historical data on income, infant mortality and life expectancy, offer scant support to a possible nexus between IQ differences and socio-economic development. The ancient history of Southern Italy is also inconsistent with a supposed Phoenician and Arab adverse genetic impact on the average IQ of Southern populations. The paper proposes that regional IQ differences reflect North–South disparities in education and socio-economic development levels. The significant increases in mean scholastic achievement tests, registered in the Italian South in the period 2003–2012, support this conclusion.

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Manufacturing Growth and the Lives of Bangladeshi Women

Rachel Heath & Mushfiq Mobarak
Journal of Development Economics, July 2015, Pages 1–15

Abstract:
We study the effects of explosive growth in the Bangladeshi ready-made garments industry on the lives on Bangladeshi women. We compare the marriage, childbearing, school enrollment and employment decisions of women who gain greater access to garment sector jobs to women living further away from factories, to years before the factories arrive close to some villages, and to the marriage and enrollment decisions of their male siblings. Girls exposed to the garment sector delay marriage and childbirth. This stems from (a) young girls becoming more likely to be enrolled in school after garment jobs (which reward literacy and numeracy) arrive, and (b) older girls becoming more likely to be employed outside the home in garment-proximate villages. The demand for education generated through manufacturing growth appears to have a much larger effect on female educational attainment compared to a large-scale government conditional cash transfer program to encourage female schooling.

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The Distribution of Legal Traditions around the World: A Contribution to the Legal-Origins Theory

Daniel Oto-Peralías & Diego Romero-Ávila
Journal of Law and Economics, August 2014, Pages 561-628

Abstract:
The distribution of the common law was conditioned by a colonial strategy sensitive to the colonies’ level of endowments, exhibiting a more effective implantation of the legal system in initially sparsely populated territories with a temperate climate. This translates into a negative relationship of precolonial population density and settler mortality with legal outcomes for common-law countries. By contrast, the implantation of the French civil law was not systematically influenced by initial conditions, which is reflected in the lack of such a relationship for this legal family. The common law does not generally lead to legal outcomes superior to those provided by the French civil law when precolonial population density and/or settler mortality are high. The form of colonial rule in British colonies is found to mediate between precolonial endowments and postcolonial legal outcomes.

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Latin American Inequality: Colonial Origins, Commodity Booms, or a Missed 20th Century Leveling?

Jeffrey Williamson
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Most analysts of the modern Latin American economy have held the pessimistic belief in historical persistence -- they believe that Latin America has always had very high levels of inequality, and that it’s the Iberian colonists’ fault. Thus, modern analysts see today a more unequal Latin America compared with Asia and most rich post-industrial nations and assume that this must always have been true. Indeed, some have argued that high inequality appeared very early in the post-conquest Americas, and that this fact supported rent-seeking and anti-growth institutions which help explain the disappointing growth performance we observe there even today. The recent leveling of inequality in the region since the 1990s seems to have done little to erode that pessimism. It is important, therefore, to stress that this alleged persistence is based on an historical literature which has made little or no effort to be comparative, and it matters. Compared with the rest of the world, inequality was not high in the century following 1492, and it was not even high in the post-independence decades just prior Latin America’s belle époque and start with industrialization. It only became high during the commodity boom 1870-1913, by the end of which it had joined the rich country unequal club that included the US and the UK. Latin America only became relatively high between 1913 and the 1970s when it missed the Great Egalitarian Leveling which took place almost everywhere else. That Latin American inequality has its roots in its colonial past is a myth.

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Oil, Governance and the (Mis)Allocation of Talent in Developing Countries

Christian Ebeke, Luc Désiré Omgba & Rachid Laajaj
Journal of Development Economics, May 2015, Pages 126–141

Abstract:
This paper sheds light on the relationship between oil rent and the allocation of talent, toward rent-seeking versus more productive activities, conditional on the quality of institutions. Using a sample of 69 developing countries, we demonstrate that oil resources orient university students toward specializations that provide better future access to rents when institutions are weak. The results are robust to various specifications, datasets on governance quality and estimation methods. Oil affects the demand for each profession through a technological effect, indicating complementarity between oil and engineering, manufacturing and construction; however, it also increases the ‘size of the cake’. Therefore, when institutions are weak, oil increases the incentive to opt for professions with better access to rents (law, business, and the social sciences), rather than careers in engineering, creating a deviation from the optimal allocation between the two types of specialization.

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Why we fell: Declinist writing and theories of imperial failure in the longue durée

Richard Lachmann & Fiona Rose-Greenland
Poetics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Great powers in transition produce intellectuals who explain that transition as decline. Our goal in this article is to compare how writers in ancient Rome and the contemporary United States understood the trajectories of their societies, and to account for why some of those authors saw decline as inevitable while others proposed policies to reverse the problems they diagnosed. In so doing, we trace the development of a key idea about society through the longue durée. We do not seek to determine whether each author's analysis is ‘correct.’ Rather, we want to explain how authors in each era constructed their arguments and to whom they directed their writings, and understand how modes of analysis and exposition have changed over the millennia. We find that ancient authors generally saw decline as inevitable and stemming primarily from moral causes. Modern authors can be divided into two groups. One sees decline stemming from a mix of moral and structural causes, and as potentially reversible. The other analyzes decline in structural terms and presents it as irreversible. Our findings have implications for sociological work on how ideas are constructed through time, and how social scientists grappling with macro-level change build on enduring ontologies.

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Does Democracy Increase Growth More in New Countries?

Kevin Sylwester
Economics & Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Countries face governing challenges at their inception, albeit not of the same degree or type. Challenges such as creating governing structures and forming one nation from disparate groups can create uncertainty and so lower economic growth. Does democracy exacerbate or lessen such problems? This paper considers an empirical specification where the effect of democracy upon economic growth is allowed to vary over time. I find that democracy is more greatly associated with economic growth in newer countries. This suggests that democracy helps to mitigate governing challenges that can lower economic growth.

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Finance-Led Growth in the OECD Since the 19th Century: How Does Financial Development Transmit to Growth?

Jakob Madsen & James Ang
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is well established in the literature that financial development (FD) is conducive to growth, and yet the channels through which FD affects growth are not well understood. Using a unique new panel data set for 21 OECD countries over the past 140 years, this paper examines the extent to which FD transmits to growth through ideas production, savings, investment, and schooling. Unionization and agricultural share are used as instruments for FD. The empirical results show that FD influences growth through all channels. Specifically, ideas production is found to be the most important channel through which FD impacts on growth.

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The physiological foundations of the wealth of nations

Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik
Journal of Economic Growth, March 2015, Pages 37-73

Abstract:
In the present paper we advance a theory of pre-industrial growth where body size and population size are endogenously determined. Despite the fact that parents invest in both child quantity and productivity enhancing child quality, a take-off does not occur due to a key “physiological check”: if human body size rises, subsistence requirements will increase. This mechanism turns out to be instrumental in explaining why income stagnates near an endogenously determined subsistence boundary. Key predictions of the model are examined using data for ethnic groups as well as for sub-national regions.

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Intelligence and shadow economy: A cross-country empirical assessment

Raufhon Salahodjaev
Intelligence, March–April 2015, Pages 129–133

Abstract:
This paper empirically assesses the influence of intelligence on a shadow economy, using data from 158 countries, over the period 1999–2007. The results provide strong evidence for the claim that intelligence is negatively associated with an underground economy. This paper establishes that, on average, a one standard deviation increase in IQ is associated with an 8.5 percentage point reduction in a shadow economy relative to GDP. The negative effect of intelligence remains intact when controlled for conventional antecedents of a shadow economy.

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Western Europe, state formation, and genetic pacification

Peter Frost & Henry Harpending
Evolutionary Psychology, March 2015, Pages 230-243

Abstract:
Through its monopoly on violence, the State tends to pacify social relations. Such pacification proceeded slowly in Western Europe between the 5th and 11th centuries, being hindered by the rudimentary nature of law enforcement, the belief in a man’s right to settle personal disputes as he saw fit, and the Church’s opposition to the death penalty. These hindrances began to dissolve in the 11th century with a consensus by Church and State that the wicked should be punished so that the good may live in peace. Courts imposed the death penalty more and more often and, by the late Middle Ages, were condemning to death between 0.5 and 1.0% of all men of each generation, with perhaps just as many offenders dying at the scene of the crime or in prison while awaiting trial. Meanwhile, the homicide rate plummeted from the 14th century to the 20th. The pool of violent men dried up until most murders occurred under conditions of jealousy, intoxication, or extreme stress. The decline in personal violence is usually attributed to harsher punishment and the longer-term effects of cultural conditioning. It may also be, however, that this new cultural environment selected against propensities for violence.

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The Rents From Trade and Coercive Institutions: Removing the Sugar Coating

Christian Dippel, Avner Greif & Daniel Trefler
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
The 19th century collapse of world sugar prices should have depressed wages in the British West Indies sugar colonies. It did not. We explain this by showing how lower prices weakened the power of the white planter elite and thus led to an easing of the coercive institutions that depressed wages e.g., institutions that kept land out of the hands of peasants. Using unique data for 14 British West Indies sugar colonies from 1838 to 1913, we examine the impact of the collapse of sugar prices on wages and incarceration rates. We find that in colonies that were poorly suited for sugar cane cultivation (an exogenous colony characteristic), the planter elite declined in power and the institutions they created and supported became less coercive. As a result, wages rose by 20% and incarceration rates per capita were cut in half. In contrast, in colonies that were highly suited for sugar cane there was little change in the power of the planter elite --- as a result, institutions did not change, the market-based mechanisms of standard trade theory were salient, and wages fell by 24%. In short, movements in the terms of trade induced changes in coercive institutions, changes that are central for understanding how the terms of trade affects wages.

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Why some countries are immune from the resource curse: The role of economic norms

Erdem Aytaç, Michael Mousseau & Ömer Faruk Örsün
Democratization, forthcoming

Abstract:
The political resource curse – the detrimental effect of natural resource dependence on democracy – is a well-established correlate of authoritarianism. A long-standing puzzle, however, is why some countries seem to be immune from it. We address this issue systematically by distinguishing two kinds of economies: contract-intensive, where individuals normally obtain their incomes in the marketplace; and clientelist, where individuals normally obtain their incomes in groups that compete over state rents. We theorize that the institutionalized patronage opportunities in clientelist economies are an important precondition for the resource curse, and that nations with contract-intensive economies are immune from it. Analysis of 150 countries from 1973 to 2000 yields robust support for this view. By introducing clientelist economy as a prerequisite for the resource curse, this study offers an important advance in understanding how nations democratize.

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Untouchability, Homicides and Water Access

Catherine Bros & Mathieu Couttenier
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper contributes to a burgeoning literature on the role of social norms in preventing some groups from accessing public goods. We examine the case of untouchability rules in India that forbid sharing water with low castes. We show that homicide rates of low castes individuals at the district level are positively and significantly correlated with public access to water, while no such relationship can be found as far as higher caste homicide rates are concerned. This relationship, which is robust to many econometric specifications, is seen as a testimony of the upholding of untouchability practices, despite having been outlawed for more than 60 years by the Constitution of India. This paper provides the first quantitative assessment of the link between access to public goods, untouchability norms and violence at the sub-continent scale. Finally, this study underlines the need for policy makers to partly shift their attention from the quantitative allocation of public goods to the effective access to these goods.

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The Natural Selection of Infectious Disease Resistance and Its Effect on Contemporary Health

Justin Cook
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper empirically tests the association between genetically determined resistance to infectious disease and cross-country health differences. A country-level measure of genetic diversity for the system of genes associated with the recognition and disposal of foreign pathogens is constructed. Genetic diversity within this system has been shown to reduce the virulence and prevalence of infectious diseases and is hypothesized to have been naturally selected from historical exposure to infectious pathogens. Base estimation shows a statistically strong, robust, and positive relationship between this constructed measure and country-level health outcomes in times prior to, but not after, the international epidemiological transition.

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The Role of Constitutions on Poverty: A Cross-National Investigation

Alanson Minkler & Nishith Prakash
University of Connecticut Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
In this paper we use novel historical data on economics and social rights from the constitutions of 201 countries and an instrument variable strategy to answer two important questions. First, do economic and social rights provisions in constitutions reduce poverty? Second, does the strength of constitutional language of the economic and social rights matter? Constitutional provisions can be framed either more weakly as directive principles or more strongly as enforceable law. We find three important results. First, we do not find an association between constitutional rights generally framed and poverty. Second, we do not find an association between economic and social rights framed as directive principles and poverty. Third, we do find a strong negative association between economic and social rights framed as enforceable law and poverty. When we use legal origins as our IV, we find evidence that this result is causal. Our results survive a variety of robustness checks. The policy implication is that constitutional provisions framed as enforceable law provide effective meta-rules with incentives for policymakers to initiate, fund, monitor and enforce poverty reduction policies.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Let's work on it

Preparatory Power Posing Affects Nonverbal Presence and Job Interview Performance

Amy Cuddy et al.
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The authors tested whether engaging in expansive (vs. contractive) “power poses” before a stressful job interview — preparatory power posing — would enhance performance during the interview. Participants adopted high-power (i.e., expansive, open) poses or low-power (i.e., contractive, closed) poses, and then prepared and delivered a speech to 2 evaluators as part of a mock job interview. All interview speeches were videotaped and coded for overall performance and hireability and for 2 potential mediators: verbal content (e.g., structure, content) and nonverbal presence (e.g., captivating, enthusiastic). As predicted, those who prepared for the job interview with high- (vs. low-) power poses performed better and were more likely to be chosen for hire; this relation was mediated by nonverbal presence, but not by verbal content. Although previous research has focused on how a nonverbal behavior that is enacted during interactions and observed by perceivers affects how those perceivers evaluate and respond to the actor, this experiment focused on how a nonverbal behavior that is enacted before the interaction and unobserved by perceivers affects the actor’s performance, which, in turn, affects how perceivers evaluate and respond to the actor. This experiment reveals a theoretically novel and practically informative result that demonstrates the causal relation between preparatory nonverbal behavior and subsequent performance and outcomes.

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Safety and Solidarity After the Boston Marathon Bombing: A Comparison of Three Diverse Boston Neighborhoods

Philip Brenner et al.
Sociological Forum, March 2015, Pages 40–61

Abstract:
This article investigates the effect of the Boston Marathon Bombing on city residents — how the tragic incident changed, or did not change, how Bostonians live in and feel about their community and neighborhoods. Unlike prior research that began weeks or months after a terrorist attack and used retrospective reports, this study spans the focal event. An address-based sample of residents from three neighborhoods, distinct in racial and economic makeup was surveyed by mail using a three-contact protocol. About two-thirds of respondents answered a survey of neighborhood sentiments, and health and well-being in the days before the bombing (N = 581) and slightly over a third answered the survey after the bombing (N = 313). Assessments of safety, city and neighborhood satisfaction and solidarity, mental health, and other key measures vary greatly between the three neighborhoods, which are diverse in racial and economic composition, but also vary in proximity to the bomb site. Net of neighborhood differences, the bombing had a strong negative effect on neighborhood cohesion and reduced use of public transit. Strong interactions are also found between timing of survey completion (pre and post bombing) and neighborhood for assessments of neighborhood solidarity.

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Sensitivity to Perceived Facial Trustworthiness Is Increased by Activating Self-Protection Motives

Steven Young, Michael Slepian & Donald Sacco
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Self-protection motives have been documented to influence a range of intergroup processes, including biased categorization of racially ambiguous targets as out-group members and a heightened ability to discriminate in-group from out-group members. In this work, the influence of self-protective states is extended to interpersonal processes. Specifically, in two experiments we demonstrate that activating self-protection motives (relative to a control experience) leads to more accurate detection of facial cues associated with trustworthiness. In Experiment 1, participants with salient self-protection concerns were better able to distinguish between faces pre-rated as appearing high and low in trustworthiness. In Experiment 2, we used dynamic cues associated with trustworthiness and found that participants with active self-protection goals more accurately distinguished genuine from false smiles. These results are among the first to document the influence of self-protection motives on interpersonal judgments, thereby expanding the scope and focus of fundamental motives research.

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Focus on the success of others leads to selfish behavior

Pieter van den Berg, Lucas Molleman & Franz Weissing
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 3 March 2015, Pages 2912-2917

Abstract:
It has often been argued that the spectacular cognitive capacities of humans are the result of selection for the ability to gather, process, and use information about other people. Recent studies show that humans strongly and consistently differ in what type of social information they are interested in. Although some individuals mainly attend to what the majority is doing (frequency-based learning), others focus on the success that their peers achieve with their behavior (success-based learning). Here, we show that such differences in social learning have important consequences for the outcome of social interactions. We report on a decision-making experiment in which individuals were first classified as frequency- and success-based learners and subsequently grouped according to their learning strategy. When confronted with a social dilemma situation, groups of frequency-based learners cooperated considerably more than groups of success-based learners. A detailed analysis of the decision-making process reveals that these differences in cooperation are a direct result of the differences in information use. Our results show that individual differences in social learning strategies are crucial for understanding social behavior.

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Procedural frames in negotiations: How offering my resources versus requesting yours impacts perception, behavior, and outcomes

Roman Trötschel et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, March 2015, Pages 417-435

Abstract:
Although abundant negotiation research has examined outcome frames, little is known about the procedural framing of negotiation proposals (i.e., offering my vs. requesting your resources). In a series of 8 experiments, we tested the prediction that negotiators would show a stronger concession aversion and attain better individual outcomes when their own resource, rather than the counterpart’s, is the accentuated reference resource in a transaction. First, senders of proposals revealed a stronger concession aversion when they offered their own rather than requested the counterpart’s resources — both in buyer-seller (Experiment 1a) and in classic transaction negotiations (Experiment 2a). Expectedly, this effect reversed for recipients: When receiving requests rather than offers, recipients experienced a stronger concession aversion in buyer-seller (Experiment 1b) and transaction negotiations (Experiment 2b). Experiments 3−5 investigated procedural frames in the interactive process of negotiations — with elementary schoolchildren (Experiment 3), in a buyer-seller context (Experiments 4a and 4b), and in a computer-mediated transaction negotiation void of buyer and seller roles (Experiment 5). In summary, 8 experiments showed that negotiators are more concession averse and claim more individual value when negotiation proposals are framed to highlight their own rather than the counterpart’s resources.

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Effect of Income on Trust: Evidence from the 2009 Crisis in Russia

Maxim Ananyev & Sergei Guriev
University of California Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
This paper draws on a natural experiment to identify the relationship between income and trust. We use a unique panel dataset on Russia where GDP experienced an 8 percent drop in 2009. The effect of the crisis had been very uneven among Russian regions because of their differences in industrial structure inherited from the Soviet times. We find that the regions that specialize in producing capital goods, as well as those depending on oil and gas, had a more substantial income decline during the crisis. The variation in the industrial structure allows creating an instrument for the change in income. After instrumenting average regional income, we find that the effect of income on generalized social trust (the share of respondents saying that most people can be trusted) is statistically and economically significant. Controlling for conventional determinants of trust, we show that 10 percent decrease in income is associated with 5 percentage point decrease in trust. Given that the average level of trust in Russia is 25%, this magnitude is substantial. We also find that post-crisis economic recovery did not restore pre-crisis trust level. Trust recovered only in those regions where the 2009 decline in trust was small. In the regions with the large decline in trust during the crisis, trust in 2014 was still 10 percentage points below its pre-crisis level.

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The Lure Technique: Replication and Refinement in a Field Setting

Marie Marchand, Robert-Vincent Joule & Nicolas Guéguen
Psychological Reports, February 2015, Pages 275-279

Abstract:
Many techniques designed to gain compliance to a request are presented in the social psychological literature. However, the lure technique has received little attention from scientists. This technique, also called bait-and-switch, is used to influence people's choices and involves three stages: (1) individuals are led to make a rewarding decision to carry out a given behavior; (2) they are informed of the impossibility of carrying out this behavior; (3) a new but less rewarding decision is proposed. Only one formal study has been published on this technique, which failed to control two key methodological factors: the status of the participants and the solicitor, and the delay between the initial decision and the target request. These two factors were controlled in this study. Outside a French campus, 40 female students in the 18–22 age range were solicited by a student to participate in a pleasant experiment for which they would be remunerated. One minute after accepting, they were informed that the number of participants was reached, and they were no longer needed. The solicitor then proposed a different task that was less interesting and not remunerated. Greater compliance with the final request was found in the lure condition (70%) than in the control condition (35%) in which the final request was addressed immediately. The results confirm the effectiveness of the lure technique to increase compliance and show that its effectiveness is not dependent on the solicitor's status.

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Self-Control Depletion Does Not Diminish Attitudes About Being Prosocial But Does Diminish Prosocial Behaviors

Jeffrey Osgood & Mark Muraven
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, January/February 2015, Pages 68-80

Abstract:
In three studies, ego-depleted participants reported the same level of affective/cognitive concern for others as control participants, but behaved less prosocially. In Study 1, participants had to sustain cooperation to increase the joint payout to themselves and another player. In Study 2, participants had to restrict their use of a shared resource. In Study 3, ego-depletion failed to produce effects on several measures of concern for others despite large effects found with other manipulations. Results suggest ego-depletion influences behavior by reducing one's ability or motivation to overcome egotistic desires when helping others comes at a cost to the self.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Tough

Aggressive-Antisocial Boys Develop Into Physically Strong Young Men

Joshua Isen, Matthew McGue & William Iacono
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Young men with superior upper-body strength typically show a greater proclivity for physical aggression than their weaker male counterparts. The traditional interpretation of this phenomenon is that young men calibrate their attitudes and behaviors to their physical formidability. Physical strength is thus viewed as a causal antecedent of aggressive behavior. The present study is the first to examine this phenomenon within a developmental framework. We capitalized on the fact that physical strength is a male secondary sex characteristic. In two longitudinal cohorts of children, we estimated adolescent change in upper-body strength using the slope parameter from a latent growth model. We found that males’ antisocial tendencies temporally precede their physical formidability. Boys, but not girls, with greater antisocial tendencies in childhood attained larger increases in physical strength between the ages of 11 and 17. These results support sexual selection theory, indicating an adaptive congruence between male-typical behavioral dispositions and subsequent physical masculinization during puberty.

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Not by Strength Alone

David Pietraszewski & Alex Shaw
Human Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Asymmetric War of Attrition (AWA) model of animal conflict in evolutionary biology (Maynard Smith and Parker in Nature, 246, 15–18, 1976) suggests that an organism’s decision to withdraw from a conflict is the result of adaptations designed to integrate the expected value of winning, discounted by the expected costs that would be incurred by continuing to compete, via sensitivity to proximate cues of how quickly each side can impose costs on the other (Resource Holding Potential), and how much each side will gain by winning. The current studies examine whether human conflict expectations follow the formalized logic of this model. Children aged 6–8 years were presented with third-party conflict vignettes and were then asked to predict the likely winner. Cues of ownership, hunger, size, strength, and alliance strength were systematically varied across conditions. Results demonstrate that children’s expectations followed the logic of the AWA model, even in complex situations featuring multiple, competing cues, such that the actual relative costs and benefits that would accrue during such a conflict were reflected in children’s expectations. Control conditions show that these modifications to conflict expectations could not have resulted from more general experimental artifacts or demand characteristics. To test the selectivity of these effects to conflict, expectations of search effort were also assessed. As predicted, they yielded a different pattern of results. These studies represent one of the first experimental tests of the AWA model in humans and suggest that future research on the psychology of ownership, conflict, and value may be aided by formalized models from evolutionary biology.

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Violent Video Games and Physical Aggression: Evidence for a Selection Effect Among Adolescents

Johannes Breuer et al.
Psychology of Popular Media Culture, forthcoming

Abstract:
Longitudinal studies investigating the relationship of aggression and violent video games are still scarce. Most of the previous studies focused on children or younger adolescents and relied on convenience samples. This paper presents data from a 1-year longitudinal study of N = 276 video game players aged 14 to 21 drawn from a representative sample of German gamers. We tested both whether the use of violent games predicts physical aggression (i.e., the socialization hypothesis) and whether physical aggression predicts the subsequent use of violent games (i.e., the selection hypothesis). The results support the selection hypotheses for the group of adolescents aged 14 to 17. For the group of young adults (18–21), we found no evidence for both the socialization and the selection hypothesis. Our findings suggest that the use of violent video games is not a substantial predictor of physical aggression, at least in the later phases of adolescence and early adulthood. The differences we found between the age groups show that age plays an important role in the relationship of aggression and violent video games and that research in this area can benefit from a more individualistic perspective that takes into account both intraindividual developmental change and interindividual differences between players.

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Aggressive priming online: Facebook adverts can prime aggressive cognitions

Tom Buchanan
Computers in Human Behavior, July 2015, Pages 323–330

Abstract:
Through the process of priming, incidental stimuli in our environments can influence our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. This may be true of incidental stimuli in online environments, such as adverts on websites. Two experiments (N = 325, N = 331) showed that the mere presence of advertisements with violent content on a simulated Facebook page induced higher levels of aggression-related cognition in comparison to non-violent adverts (d = 0.56, d = 0.71). In a subsequent word recognition task, participants primed with the violent stimuli ‘remembered’ more actually-unseen violence-related words than did the control participants. That is, they reported recognising violent words they had not actually seen. However, priming with violent adverts had no effect on mood or person perception. A third correlational study (N = 131) examined whether variance in the extent of priming could be attributed to individual differences in aggressiveness. Participants’ aggressiveness was unrelated to their scores on the aggressive cognition measure. These studies established that website adverts with violent content could prime aggressive cognitions. Individuals differed in the extent to which they experienced the priming effect, and this was not attributable to their levels of trait aggressiveness. No effects of priming were found on either mood state or person perception.

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Social stress and the oxytocin receptor gene interact to predict antisocial behavior in an at-risk cohort

Erica Smearman et al.
Development and Psychopathology, February 2015, Pages 309-318

Abstract:
Polymorphisms in the oxytocin receptor gene are commonly associated with prosocial behaviors in the extant literature, yet their role in antisocial behaviors has rarely been explored, particularly during the transition from adolescence to early adulthood. We examined a prospective cohort (N = 404), collecting youth, mother, and clinician reports of conduct-disordered and antisocial behavior at ages 15 and 20. The oxytocin receptor gene rs53576 polymorphism was hypothesized to interact with social stress to predict antisocial outcomes. Structural equation modeling results revealed a significant main effect at age 15 (p = .025); those with the G allele exhibited higher levels of conduct problems. Structural equation modeling revealed a significant Gene × Environment interaction at age 20 (p = .029); those with the G allele who experienced high social stress exhibited higher levels of antisocial behavior. Heterozygous (AG) grouping models were compared, and parameter estimations supported G dominant groupings. These novel findings suggest that rs53576 polymorphisms may influence social salience and contribute to risk for antisocial outcomes, particularly under conditions of high social stress.

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Developmental Differences in Early Adolescent Aggression: A Gene × Environment × Intervention Analysis

Gabriel Schlomer et al.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, March 2015, Pages 581-597

Abstract:
Aggression-related problems such as assault and homicide among adolescents and young adults exact considerable social and economic costs. Although progress has been made, additional research is needed to help combat this persistent problem. Several lines of research indicate that parental hostility is an especially potent predictor of adolescent aggression, although most longitudinal research has focused on clarifying the direction of effects. In this study, we used longitudinal data from the PROSPER project (N = 580; 54.8 % female), a primarily rural Caucasian preventative intervention sample, to examine developmental change in early- to mid-adolescent aggressive behavior problems (age 11–16 years). In addition, we examined maternal hostility as a predictor of developmental change in aggression and the PROSPER preventative intervention, designed to reduce substance use and aggression, as a potential influence on this association. Lastly, several studies indicate that variation in the DRD4 7-repeat gene moderates both parenting and intervention influences on externalizing behavior. Accordingly, we examined the potential moderating role of DRD4. As hypothesized, there was a significant maternal hostility by intervention interaction indicating that the intervention reduced the negative impact of maternal hostility on adolescent change in aggressive behavior problems. DRD4 7-repeat status (7+ vs. 7−) further conditioned this association whereby control group 7+ adolescents with hostile mothers showed increasing aggressive behavior problems. In contrast, aggression decreased for 7+ adolescents with similarly hostile mothers in the intervention. Implications for prevention are discussed as well as current perspectives in candidate gene-by-environment interaction research.

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Effects of Classroom Composition on the Development of Antisocial Behavior in Lower Secondary School

Christoph Michael Müller et al.
Journal of Research on Adolescence, forthcoming

Abstract:
Early adolescence is a critical period during which classroom composition may affect behavioral development. This study investigated whether classmates’ levels of aggression and delinquency influenced individual antisocial behavior during the first year of secondary school. At this point, students had just transitioned to a new classroom peer environment. A short-term longitudinal design with four measurement points distributed across the school year was applied. Data were collected from the anonymous self-reports of 825 seventh graders. Longitudinal negative binomial multilevel analyses revealed that classmates’ antisocial behavior influenced pupils’ behavioral development (other peer influences were controlled). Furthermore, classroom behavioral heterogeneity moderated the peer effect regarding delinquency but not aggression.

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Too good to care: The effect of skill on hostility and aggression following violent video game play

Nicholas Matthews
Computers in Human Behavior, July 2015, Pages 219–225

Abstract:
An experiment tested if higher skilled players would experience diminished aggression related outcomes compared to lower skilled players due to flow state optimization. Specifically, the study observed if higher flow states made narrative-defined game goals more salient, thus reducing focus on the more peripheral violent content. After controlling for the amount, type, and context of violence, higher skilled players experienced lower levels of hostility and aggression related cognitions and greater levels of flow than lower skilled players. Additionally, skill altered players’ perceptions as well, as higher skilled players experienced higher construal levels and perceived less violence than lower skilled players.

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Troubling Anal Sex: Gender, Power, and Sexual Compliance in Heterosexual Experiences of Anal Intercourse

Breanne Fahs, Eric Swank & Lindsay Clevenger
Gender Issues, March 2015, Pages 19-38

Abstract:
Existing literatures on anal sex mostly focus on links between anal sex and public health, particularly sexual risk-taking. Drawing upon feminist theoretical frameworks, this study linked anal sex activities of heterosexual men and women to broader issues of sexist power imbalances. This study analyzed survey data from 205 undergraduates to assess the relationship between frequency of vaginal and anal intercourse and ten correlates, including identity, sexual aggression, and attitudinal and behavioral practices. Being single and support for women’s abstinence was negatively correlated with vaginal but not anal sex, while anal sex was connected to support of hegemonic masculinity and lifetime experiences with sexual coercion, particularly for women. Implications for gender and power dynamics of heterosexual anal sex were explored.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, March 13, 2015

Jonesing

Inequality, Leverage, and Crises

Michael Kumhof, Romain Ranciere & Pablo Winant
American Economic Review, March 2015, Pages 1217-1245

Abstract:
The paper studies how high household leverage and crises can be caused by changes in the income distribution. Empirically, the periods 1920-1929 and 1983–2008 both exhibited a large increase in the income share of high-income households, a large increase in debt leverage of low- and middle-income households, and an eventual financial and real crisis. The paper presents a theoretical model where higher leverage and crises are the endogenous result of a growing income share of high-income households. The model matches the profiles of the income distribution, the debt-to-income ratio and crisis risk for the three decades preceding the Great Recession.

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Perceptions of U.S. Social Mobility Are Divided (and Distorted) Along Ideological Lines

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

Abstract:
The ability to move upward in social class or economic position (i.e., social mobility) is a defining feature of the American Dream, yet recent public-opinion polls indicate that many Americans are losing confidence in the essential fairness of the system and their opportunities for financial advancement. In two studies, we examined Americans’ perceptions of both current levels of mobility in the United States and temporal trends in mobility, and we compared these perceptions with objective indicators to determine perceptual accuracy. Overall, participants underestimated current mobility and erroneously concluded that mobility has declined over the past four decades. These misperceptions were more pronounced among politically liberal participants than among politically moderate or conservative ones. These perception differences were accounted for by liberals’ relative dissatisfaction with the current social system, social hierarchies, and economic inequality. These findings have important implications for theories of political ideology.

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Americans overestimate social class mobility

Michael Kraus & Jacinth Tan
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2015, Pages 101–111

Abstract:
In this research we examine estimates of American social class mobility — the ability to move up or down in education and income status. Across studies, overestimates of class mobility were large and particularly likely among younger participants and those higher in subjective social class — both measured (Studies 1–3) and manipulated (Study 4). Class mobility overestimates were independent of general estimation errors (Study 3) and persisted after accounting for knowledge of class mobility assessed in terms of educational attainment and self-ratings. Experiments revealed that mobility overestimates were shaped by exposure to information about the genetic determinants of social class — a faux science article suggesting genetic constraints to economic advancement increased accuracy in class mobility estimates (Study 2) — and motivated by needs to protect the self — heightening the self-relevance of class mobility increased overestimates (Study 3). Discussion focused on both the costs and benefits of overestimates of class mobility for individuals and society.

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Living in the Garden of Eden: Mineral Resources and Preferences for Redistribution

Mathieu Couttenier & Marc Sangnier
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper provides empirical evidence that mineral resources abundance is associated to preferences for redistribution in the United States. We show that individuals living in states with large mineral resources endowment are more opposed to redistribution than others. We take advantage of both the spatial and the temporal distributions of mineral resources discoveries since 1800 to uncover two mechanisms through which mineral resources can foster ones’ opposition to redistribution: either by transmission of values formed in the past, or by the exposure to mineral discoveries during individuals’ life-time. We show that both mechanisms matter to explain respondents’ preferences.

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Lay Theories About Social Class Buffer Lower-Class Individuals Against Poor Self-Rated Health and Negative Affect

Jacinth Tan & Michael Kraus
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, March 2015, Pages 446-461

Abstract:
The economic conditions of one’s life can profoundly and systematically influence health outcomes over the life course. Our present research demonstrates that rejecting the notion that social class categories are biologically determined — a nonessentialist belief — buffers lower-class individuals from poor self-rated health and negative affect, whereas conceiving of social class categories as rooted in biology — an essentialist belief — does not. In Study 1, lower-class individuals self-reported poorer health than upper-class individuals when they endorsed essentialist beliefs but showed no such difference when they rejected such beliefs. Exposure to essentialist theories of social class also led lower-class individuals to report greater feelings of negative self-conscious emotions (Studies 2 and 3), and perceive poorer health (Study 3) than upper-class individuals, whereas exposure to nonessentialist theories did not lead to such differences. Discussion considers how lay theories of social class potentially shape long-term trajectories of health and affect of lower-class individuals.

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The undervalued self: Social class and self-evaluation

Michael Kraus & Jun Park
Frontiers in Psychology, December 2014

Abstract:
Social class ranks people on the social ladder of society, and in this research we examine how perceptions of economic standing shape the way that individuals evaluate the self. Given that reminders of one’s own subordinate status in society are an indicator of how society values the self in comparison to others, we predicted that chronic lower perceptions of economic standing vis-à-vis others would explain associations between objective social class and negative self-evaluation, whereas situation-specific reminders of low economic standing would elicit negative self-evaluations, particularly in those from lower-class backgrounds. In Study 1, perceptions of social class rank accounted for the positive relationship between objective material resource measures of social class and self-esteem. In Study 2, lower-class individuals who received a low (versus equal) share of economic resources in an economic game scenario reported more negative self-conscious emotions — a correlate of negative self-evaluation — relative to upper-class individuals. Discussion focused on the implications of this research for understanding class-based cultural models of the self, and for how social class shapes self-evaluations chronically.

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Unionization and the partisan effect on income inequality

Eric Graig Castater
Business and Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does partisanship matter for income inequality? The empirical evidence is notably mixed. I argue that these inconsistent findings are partly the result of scholars not (properly) modeling the relationship between unionization and the partisan composition of government. If we accept that union members favor greater government intervention to reduce economic inequalities than non-union members, politicians desire to hold elected office and be popular but also to implement particular public policies, and left party politicians share union members’ policy preferences to a greater extent than center and right party politicians, then partisan differences should be greatest at moderate levels of unionization, a condition that allows all politicians to pursue their policy preferences while maintaining electoral viability. The empirical analysis examines 16 wealthy democracies between 1970 and 2010. The results of error-correction models confirm the theoretical expectation and hold regardless of whether there is a majoritarian or proportional representation electoral system.

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International Human Rights and Domestic Income Inequality: A Difficult Case of Compliance in World Society

Wade Cole
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Much research finds that human rights treaties fail to improve domestic practices unless governments are held accountable in some fashion. The implication is that noncompliance can be attributed to insincere commitments and willful disobedience. I challenge this claim for a core but overlooked treaty: the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Few analysts have studied the ICESCR because its terms are difficult to implement and suitable measures for judging compliance are hard to find. I analyze its association with income inequality, using data for more than 100 countries (1981 to 2005) and methods that account for the possibility of reverse causality. ICESCR membership reduces inequality in both developed and developing countries, although the relationship is stronger for developed countries — precisely those with the greatest capacity to implement their obligations. Other key determinants of income inequality and treaty compliance — left partisanship, union density, workers’ rights, and democracy — do not systematically condition the effects of ICESCR membership. The ICESCR is therefore quite effective in reducing inequality, an outcome likely explained by renewed global attention to socioeconomic rights during the neoliberal era.

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Long-Term Intergenerational Persistence of Human Capital: An Empirical Analysis of Four Generations

Mikael Lindahl et al.
Journal of Human Resources, Winter 2015, Pages 1-33

Abstract:
Most previous studies of intergenerational transmission of human capital are restricted to two generations: how parents influence their children. In this study, we use a Swedish data set that links individual measures of lifetime earnings for three generations and data on educational attainment for four generations. We find that estimates obtained from data on two generations severely underestimate long-run intergenerational persistence in both labor earnings and educational attainments. Long-run social mobility is hence much lower than previously thought. We attribute this additional persistence to “dynastic human capital” — the influence on human capital of more distant family members than parents.

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Labor Market Institutions and Technology: The Causes of Rising Wage Inequality in U.S. Industries, 1968-2012

Tali Kristal & Yinon Cohen
Columbia University Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Most inequality scholars view skill-biased technological change – the computerization of workplaces that favors high-skilled workers – as the main cause of rising wage inequality in America, while institutional factors are generally relegated to a secondary role. The evidence presented in this paper, however, does not support this widely held view. Using direct measures for computers and pay-setting institutions at the industry level, this paper provides the first rigorous analysis of the independent effect of technological and institutional factors on rising wage inequality. Analyzing data on 43 U.S. industries between 1968 and 2012, we find that declining unions and the fall in the real value of the minimum wage explain about half of rising inequality, while computerization explains one fifth. This suggests that much of rising inequality in the U.S. is driven by worker disempowerment rather than by market forces – a finding that can resolve the puzzle on the diverging inequality trends in U.S. and Europe.

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National patterns of income and wealth inequality

Nora Skopek, Sandra Buchholz & Hans-Peter Blossfeld
International Journal of Comparative Sociology, December 2014, Pages 463-488

Abstract:
The aim of this article is to show that wealth must be treated as a distinct dimension of social stratification alongside income. In a first step, we explain why social stratification researchers have largely overlooked wealth in the past and present a detailed definition of wealth by differentiating it from income. In the empirical part of the article, we analyze the distribution of wealth across 18 countries, and we describe and compare national patterns of wealth inequality to those of income inequality making use of different data sources. Our results show – first – that there is strong variation in the distribution of wealth between these 18 countries, and – second – that levels of wealth inequality significantly differ from levels of income inequality in about half of the countries analyzed. Surprisingly high levels of wealth inequality we find in Sweden and Denmark, two countries widely considered being highly egalitarian societies. Conversely, the Southern European countries – where income inequality is relatively high – exhibit comparatively low levels of wealth inequality.

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Reference Points and Redistributive Preferences: Experimental Evidence

Jimmy Charité, Raymond Fisman & Ilyana Kuziemko
NBER Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
If individuals evaluate outcomes relative to the status quo, then a social planner may limit redistribution from rich to poor even in the absence of moral hazard. We present two experiments suggesting that individuals, placed in the position of a social planner, do in fact respect the reference points of others. First, subjects are given the opportunity to redistribute unequal, unearned initial endowments between two anonymous recipients. They redistribute significantly less when the recipients know the initial endowments (and thus may have formed corresponding reference points) than when the recipients do not know (when we observe near-complete redistribution). Subjects who are themselves risk-seeking over losses drive the effect, suggesting they project their own loss-aversion onto the recipients. In a separate experiment, respondents are asked to choose a tax rate for someone who (due to luck) became rich either five or one year(s) ago. Subjects faced with the five-year scenario choose a lower tax rate, indicating respect for the more deeply embedded (five-year) reference point. Our results thus suggest that respect for reference points of the wealthy may help explain why voters demand less redistribution than standard models predict.

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The inequality-growth plateau

Daniel Henderson, Junhui Qian & Le Wang
Economics Letters, March 2015, Pages 17–20

Abstract:
We examine the (potentially nonlinear) relationship between inequality and growth using a method which does not require an a priori assumption on the underlying functional form. This approach reveals a plateau completely missed by commonly used (nonlinear) parametric approaches – the economy first expands rapidly with a large decline in inequality, plateaus when inequality remains relatively stable, and then decreases rapidly with a large increase in inequality. This novel finding helps reconcile the conflicting results in the literature (using different parametric assumptions and datasets) and has important policy implications.

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Partisan Differences in the Distributional Effects of Economic Growth: Stock Market Performance, Unemployment, and Political Control of the Presidency

Bryan Dettrey & Harvey Palmer
Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the differences in the distributional effects of economic growth. While all incumbents are incentivized to create economic growth in order to win reelection, they use a diverse variety of policies to achieve this growth. These policy choices are often congruent with the demands of the core constituent groups of the respective parties. This suggests that economic growth is not equally shared by all, but that some groups are more or less benefited from the sets of policies chosen by the incumbent parties to stimulate growth. We test this proposition by investigating the effects of economic growth on stock market performance and unemployment. Our results show that economic growth under Republican presidents has a stronger effect on stimulating stock market performance, while economic growth under Democratic presidents has a stronger effect on reducing unemployment. Overall, these results highlight the partisan differences in macroeconomic policy and illustrate one of the causal mechanisms behind the substantial and rising economic inequality in the USA.

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How Has Educational Expansion Shaped Social Mobility Trends in the United States?

Fabian Pfeffer & Florian Hertel
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
This contribution provides a long-term assessment of intergenerational social mobility trends in the United States across the 20th and early 21st centuries and assesses the determinants of those trends. In particular, we study how educational expansion has contributed to the observed changes in mobility opportunities for men across cohorts. Drawing on recently developed decomposition methods, we empirically identify the contribution of each of the multiple channels through which changing rates of educational participation shape mobility trends. We find that a modest but gradual increase in social class mobility can nearly exclusively be ascribed to an interaction known as the compositional effect, according to which the direct influence of social class backgrounds on social class destinations is lower among the growing number of individuals attaining higher levels of education. This dominant role of the compositional effect is also due to the fact that, despite pronounced changes in the distribution of education, class inequality in education has remained stable while class returns to education have shown no consistent trend. Our analyses also provide a cautionary tale about mistaking increasing levels of social class mobility for a general trend toward more fluidity in the United States. The impact of parental education on son's educational and class attainment has grown or remained stable, respectively. Here, the compositional effect pertaining to the direct association between parental education and son's class attainment counteracts a long-term trend of increasing inequality in educational attainment tied to parents' education.

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Paradoxes of Social Policy: Welfare Transfers, Relative Poverty, and Redistribution Preferences

David Brady & Amie Bostic
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Korpi and Palme’s (1998) classic “The Paradox of Redistribution and Strategies of Equality” claims that universal social policy better reduces poverty than social policies targeted at the poor. This article revisits Korpi and Palme’s classic, and in the process, explores and informs a set of enduring questions about social policy, politics, and social equality. Specifically, we investigate the relationships between three dimensions of welfare transfers — transfer share (the average share of household income from welfare transfers), low-income targeting, and universalism — and poverty and preferences for redistribution. We analyze rich democracies like Korpi and Palme, but we also generalize to a broader sample of developed and developing countries. Consistent with Korpi and Palme, we show (1) poverty is negatively associated with transfer share and universalism; (2) redistribution preferences are negatively associated with low-income targeting; and (3) universalism is positively associated with transfer share. Contrary to Korpi and Palme, redistribution preferences are not related to transfer share or universalism; and low-income targeting is neither positively associated with poverty nor negatively associated with transfer share. Therefore, instead of the “paradox of redistribution” we propose two new paradoxes of social policy: non-complementarity and undermining. The non-complementarity paradox entails a mismatch between the dimensions that matter to poverty and the dimension that matters to redistribution preferences. The undermining paradox emphasizes that the dimension (transfer share) that most reduces poverty tends to increase with the one dimension (low-income targeting) that reduces support for redistribution.

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Is an Increasing Capital Share under Capitalism Inevitable?

Yew-Kwang Ng
European Journal of Political Economy, June 2015, Pages 82–86

Abstract:
Piketty’s influential book Capital in the Twenty-First Century and its prominent review by Milanovic in the Journal of Economic Literature both assert the inevitability of an increasing share of capital in total income, given a higher rate of return to capital than the rate of growth in income. This paper shows by a specific example, a logical argument and its intuition that the alleged inevitability is not valid. Even just for capital to grow faster than income, we need an additional requirement that saving of non-capital income is larger than consumption of capital income. Even if this is satisfied, the capital share may not increase as the rate of return may fall and non-capital incomes may increase with capital accumulation.

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Actively Closing the Gap? Social Class, Organized Activities, and Academic Achievement in High School

David Morris
Youth & Society, March 2015, Pages 267-290

Abstract:
Participation in Organized Activities (OA) is associated with positive behavioral and developmental outcomes in children. However, less is known about how particular aspects of participation affect the academic achievement of high school students from different social class positions. Using the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, this study examines the math achievement gains from organized activity participation for advantaged and disadvantaged youths. Findings indicate that the relationship between OA and achievement does indeed vary by social class. Regardless of the type of OA, less advantaged high school students see substantial academic improvements from time in OA while their more advantaged peers do not. These findings suggest that participation in organized activities is a form of resource compensation that helps to reduce the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged youths, even at the end of the K-12 schooling process.

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The Financial Premium in the US Labor Market: A Distributional Analysis

Ken-Hou Lin
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using both cross-sectional and panel data, this article revisits the evolution of the financial premium between 1970 and 2011 with a distributional approach. I report that above-market compensation was present in the finance sector in the 1970s, but concentrated mostly at the bottom of the earnings distribution. The financial premium observed since the 1980s, however, is largely driven by excessive compensation at the top, a development that increasingly contributes to the national concentration of earnings. Furthermore, the analysis suggests that the financial premium for top earners remained robust in the early 2000s, when deregulation slowed down, and in the aftermath of the recent financial meltdown. These findings are inconsistent with the account that the earnings differential is driven by unobserved skill difference and demand shocks but supportive of the institutional account of rising inequality.

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Capital Taxation Under Political Constraints

Florian Scheuer & Alexander Wolitzky
Stanford Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
This paper studies optimal dynamic tax policy under the threat of political reform. A policy will be reformed ex post if a large enough political coalition supports reform; thus, sustainable policies are those that will continue to attract enough political support in the future. We find that optimal marginal capital taxes are either progressive or U-shaped, so that savings are subsidized for the poor and/or the middle class but are taxed for the rich. U-shaped capital taxes always emerge when the salient reform threat consists of radically redistributing capital and individuals' political behavior is purely determined by economic motives.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Upright

Social Class, Power, and Selfishness: When and Why Upper and Lower Class Individuals Behave Unethically

David Dubois, Derek Rucker & Adam Galinsky
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, March 2015, Pages 436-449

Abstract:
Are the rich more unethical than the poor? To answer this question, the current research introduces a key conceptual distinction between selfish and unethical behavior. Based on this distinction, the current article offers 2 novel findings that illuminate the relationship between social class and unethical behavior. First, the effects of social class on unethical behavior are not invariant; rather, the effects of social class are moderated by whether unethical behavior benefits the self or others. Replicating past work, social class positively predicted unethical behavior; however, this relationship was only observed when that behavior was self-beneficial. When unethical behavior was performed to benefit others, social class negatively predicted unethical behavior; lower class individuals were more likely than upper class individuals to engage in unethical behavior. Overall, social class predicts people’s tendency to behave selfishly, rather than predicting unethical behavior per se. Second, individuals’ sense of power drove the effects of social class on unethical behavior. Evidence for this relationship was provided in three forms. First, income, but not education level, predicted unethical behavior. Second, feelings of power mediated the effect of social class on unethical behavior, but feelings of status did not. Third, two distinct manipulations of power produced the same moderation by self-versus-other beneficiary as was found with social class. The current theoretical framework and data both synthesize and help to explain a range of findings in the social class and power literatures.

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Is the Relationship Between Pathogen Avoidance and Ideological Conservatism Explained by Sexual Strategies?

Joshua Tybur et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Multiple recent studies report that measures of pathogen avoidance (e.g., disgust sensitivity) correlate with political ideology. This relationships have been interpreted as suggesting that certain political views (specifically, those views that are categorized as socially conservative) function to mitigate the pathogen threats posed either by intergroup interactions or departures from traditional societal norms, which sometimes evolve culturally for anti-pathogen functions. We propose and test the alternative hypothesis that pathogen avoidance relates to conservatism indirectly via sexual strategies (e.g., relatively monogamous versus relatively promiscuous). Specifically, we argue that individuals who are more invested in avoiding pathogens follow a more monogamous mating strategy to mitigate against pathogens transmitted during sexual contact, and individuals following a more monogamous mating strategy adopt socially conservative political ideologies to support their reproductive interests. Results from three studies (N’s = 819, 238, and 248) using multiple measures of pathogen avoidance, sexual strategies, and ideology support this account, with sexual strategies fully mediating the relationship between measures of pathogen avoidance and conservatism in each study.

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On the Origins of Dishonesty: From Parents to Children

Daniel Houser et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Acts of dishonesty permeate life. Understanding their origins, and what mechanisms help to attenuate such acts is an underexplored area of research. This study takes an economics approach to explore the propensity of individuals to act dishonestly across different economic environments. We begin by developing a simple model that highlights the channels through which one can increase or decrease dishonest acts. We lend empirical insights into this model by using an experiment that includes both parents and their young children as subjects. We find that the highest level of dishonesty occurs in settings where the parent acts alone and the dishonest act benefits the child rather than the parent. In this spirit, there is also an interesting effect of children on parents’ behavior: in the child’s presence, parents act more honestly, but there are gender differences. Parents act more dishonestly in front of sons than daughters. This finding has the potential of shedding light on the origins of the widely documented gender differences in cheating behavior observed among adults.

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How Foreign Language Shapes Moral Judgment

Janet Geipel, Constantinos Hadjichristidis & Luca Surian
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, July 2015, Pages 8–17

Abstract:
We investigated whether and how processing information in a foreign language as opposed to the native language affects moral judgments. Participants judged the moral wrongness of several private actions, such as consensual incest, that were depicted as harmless and presented in either the native or a foreign language. The use of a foreign language promoted less severe moral judgments and less confidence in them. Harmful and harmless social norm violations, such as saying a white lie to get a reduced fare, were also judged more leniently. The results do not support explanations based on facilitated deliberation, misunderstanding, or the adoption of a universalistic stance. We propose that the influence of foreign language is best explained by a reduced activation of social and moral norms when making moral judgments.

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Threats to Social Identity Can Trigger Social Deviance

Peter Belmi et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
We hypothesized that threats to people’s social (i.e., group) identity can trigger deviant attitudes and behaviors. A correlational study and five experiments showed that experiencing or recalling situations associated with the devaluation of a social identity caused participants to endorse or engage in deviant actions, including stealing, cheating, and lying. The effect was driven by the tendency to construe social identity threats not as isolated incidents but as symbolic of the continuing devaluation and disrespectful treatment of one’s group. Supplementing sociological approaches to deviance and delinquency, the results suggest the relevance and utility of a social-psychological account.

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Is Business Ethics Education Effective? An Analysis of Gender, Personal Ethical Perspectives, and Moral Judgment

Liz Wang & Lisa Calvano
Journal of Business Ethics, February 2015, Pages 591-602

Abstract:
Although ethics instruction has become an accepted part of the business school curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, some scholars have questioned its effectiveness, and research results have been mixed. However, studies yield interesting results regarding certain factors that influence the ethicality of business students and may impact the effectiveness of business ethics instruction. One of these factors is gender. Using personal and business ethics scenarios, we examine the main and interactive effects of gender and business ethics education on moral judgment. We then analyze the relationships between gender and business ethics education on personal ethical perspectives. Our results indicate that women are generally more inclined to act ethically than men, but paradoxically women who have had business ethics instruction are less likely to respond ethically to business situations. In addition, men may be more responsive to business ethics education than women. Finally, women’s personal ethical orientations may become more relativistic after taking a business ethics class.

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Into the wild? How a film can change adolescents' values

Anna Döring & Alessa Hillbrink
Journal of Adolescence, April 2015, Pages 78–82

Abstract:
In adolescence, behavior and attitudes are constantly rethought and value priorities are established. Still, there is hardly any research addressing how values are shaped throughout this sensitive period. We employed an experimental design, testing whether adolescents' values can be influenced by exposure to a film. In our study, 154 German adolescents (80 females, ages 13–15) were randomly assigned to an experimental group that watched excerpts from the film “Into the wild” or to a control group. Value change was assessed in a pre-post-test design with a one-week interval. As hypothesized, values changed in the direction of those displayed by the film's protagonist: Universalism values increased significantly and conformity values decreased significantly as compared to the control group. Our findings suggest that single exposure to a film may initiate value change, indicating that not only major live events, but also everyday experiences significantly affect adolescents' values.

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In the name of democracy: The value of democracy explains leniency towards wrongdoings as a function of group political organization

Andrea Pereira et al.
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
According to the “democracy-as-value” hypothesis, democracy has become an ideological belief system providing social value to democratic individuals, groups and institutions, granting legitimacy to their actions (even if dishonest or violent), and protecting them from consecutive punishments. The present research investigates the extent to which this legitimizing process is based on the individual endorsement of democratic principles. Across four experiments, following the misdeed of a (few) group member(s), respondents who valued democratic group organization and democracy in general expressed more lenient retributive justice judgments towards democratic (as compared with nondemocratic) offender groups. These findings shed light on the ways in which democratic ideology infuses justice judgments.

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Affective and Physiological Responses to the Suffering of Others: Compassion and Vagal Activity

Jennifer Stellar et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Compassion is an affective response to another’s suffering and a catalyst of prosocial behavior. In the present studies, we explore the peripheral physiological changes associated with the experience of compassion. Guided by long-standing theoretical claims, we propose that compassion is associated with activation in the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system through the vagus nerve. Across 4 studies, participants witnessed others suffer while we recorded physiological measures, including heart rate, respiration, skin conductance, and a measure of vagal activity called respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). Participants exhibited greater RSA during the compassion induction compared with a neutral control (Study 1), another positive emotion (Study 2), and a prosocial emotion lacking appraisals of another person’s suffering (Study 3). Greater RSA during the experience of compassion compared with the neutral or control emotion was often accompanied by lower heart rate and respiration but no difference in skin conductance. In Study 4, increases in RSA during compassion positively predicted an established composite of compassion-related words, continuous self-reports of compassion, and nonverbal displays of compassion. Compassion, a core affective component of empathy and prosociality, is associated with heightened parasympathetic activity.

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Is Corporate Social Responsibility Performance Associated with Tax Avoidance?

Roman Lanis & Grant Richardson
Journal of Business Ethics, March 2015, Pages 439-457

Abstract:
This study examines whether corporate social responsibility performance is associated with corporate tax avoidance. Employing a matched sample of 434 firm-year observations (i.e., 217 tax-avoidant and 217 non-tax-avoidant firm-year observations) from the Kinder, Lydenberg, and Domini database over the period 2003–2009, our logit regression results show that the higher the level of CSR performance of a firm, the lower the likelihood of tax avoidance. Our results indicate that more socially responsible firms are likely to display less tax avoidance. Finally, the results from our additional analysis show that the CSR categories community relations and diversity represent particularly important elements of CSR performance that reduce tax avoidance.

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The Neural Bases for Devaluing Radical Political Statements Revealed by Penetrating Traumatic Brain Injury

Irene Cristofori et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Given the determinant role of ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) in valuation, we examined whether vmPFC lesions also modulate how people scale political beliefs. Patients with penetrating traumatic brain injury (pTBI; N=102) and healthy controls (HC; N=31) were tested on the Political Belief Task, where they rated 75 statements expressing political opinions concerned with welfare, economy, political involvement, civil rights, war and security. Each statement was rated for level of agreement and scaled along three dimensions: radicalism, individualism, and conservatism. Voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping (VLSM) analysis showed that diminished scores for the radicalism dimension (i.e., statements were rated as less radical than the norms) were associated with lesions in bilateral vmPFC. After dividing the pTBI patients into three groups, according to lesion location (i.e., vmPFC, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex [dlPFC] and parietal cortex), we found that the vmPFC, but not the dlPFC, group had reduced radicalism scores compared to parietal and HC groups. These findings highlight the crucial role of the vmPFC in appropriately valuing political behaviors and may explain certain inappropriate social judgments observed in patients with vmPFC lesions.

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Incentives to Breach

Tess Wilkinson-Ryan
American Law and Economics Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Empirical evidence and common sense tell us that most people are responsive to economic incentives as well as social and moral norms, and that these sets of incentives are often in tension. The tradeoffs between moral and financial preferences are particularly salient in much legal decision-making, especially in the private law context. This paper presents the methods and results of two new behavioral studies designed to elicit evidence for how people factor both monetary and non-monetary incentives in breach of contract. Participants in Study 1 played a Trust game modified to capture key features of a breach decision. Subjects were offered increasing payouts to break the deal they had made with an anonymous partner. 18.6% participants indicated willingness to break a deal for any amount of profit, and over a quarter (27.9%) were unwilling to breach even when offered $24, almost triple the initial payout, with the remaining subjects identifying a break-point somewhere in between. Study 2 used hypothetical scenarios asking subjects to take the perspectives of buyers or sellers and to indicate how much profit or savings an alternate deal would have to offer in order for the subject to breach the original contract, and found a similar curve. The paper concludes with a discussion of how these methods and preliminary findings may be deployed for more fine-grained inquiries into when individuals do and do not choose a financially attractive breach about which they have moral reservations.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Reaching for the sky

The Wrong Solution at the Right Time: The Failure of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change

Amanda Rosen
Politics & Policy, February 2015, Pages 30–58

Abstract:
This article argues that the Kyoto Protocol on climate change is a fundamentally flawed agreement that set back solutions on climate change by two decades. Using a systematic framework focused on compliance, efficiency, and effectiveness, I analyze the Kyoto Protocol and argue it is a clear case of institutional failure, with the design itself bearing substantial blame for this outcome. The study points to how particular features of the Protocol — its short time frame for action, binding targets, emission reduction measures, and provision for future commitment periods — have resulted in short-sighted behavior by member states and path-dependent structures that failed to make a substantial impact on the climate problem.

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Calculation of a Population Externality

Henning Bohn & Charles Stuart
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is known that when people generate externalities, a birth also generates an externality and efficiency requires a Pigou tax/subsidy on having children. The size of the externality from a birth is important for studying policy. We calculate the size of this “population externality” in a specific case: we consider a maintained hypothesis that greenhouse gas emissions are a serious problem and assume government reacts by optimally restricting emissions. Calculated population externalities are large under many assumptions.

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Near-term acceleration in the rate of temperature change

Steven Smith et al.
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Anthropogenically driven climate changes, which are expected to impact human and natural systems, are often expressed in terms of global-mean temperature. The rate of climate change over multi-decadal scales is also important, with faster rates of change resulting in less time for human and natural systems to adapt. We find that present trends in greenhouse-gas and aerosol emissions are now moving the Earth system into a regime in terms of multi-decadal rates of change that are unprecedented for at least the past 1,000 years. The rate of global-mean temperature increase in the CMIP5 archive over 40-year periods increases to 0.25 ± 0.05 °C (1σ) per decade by 2020, an average greater than peak rates of change during the previous one to two millennia. Regional rates of change in Europe, North America and the Arctic are higher than the global average. Research on the impacts of such near-term rates of change is urgently needed.

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Climate Sensitivity Uncertainty: When is Good News Bad?

Mark Freeman, Gernot Wagner & Richard Zeckhauser
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Climate change is real and dangerous. Exactly how bad it will get, however, is uncertain. Uncertainty is particularly relevant for estimates of one of the key parameters: equilibrium climate sensitivity—how eventual temperatures will react as atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations double. Despite significant advances in climate science and increased confidence in the accuracy of the range itself, the “likely” range has been 1.5-4.5°C for over three decades. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) narrowed it to 2-4.5°C, only to reverse its decision in 2013, reinstating the prior range. In addition, the 2013 IPCC report removed prior mention of 3°C as the “best estimate.” We interpret the implications of the 2013 IPCC decision to lower the bottom of the range and excise a best estimate. Intuitively, it might seem that a lower bottom would be good news. Here we ask: When might apparently good news about climate sensitivity in fact be bad news? The lowered bottom value also implies higher uncertainty about the temperature increase, a definite bad. Under reasonable assumptions, both the lowering of the lower bound and the removal of the “best estimate” may well be bad news.

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Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought

Colin Kelley et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Before the Syrian uprising that began in 2011, the greater Fertile Crescent experienced the most severe drought in the instrumental record. For Syria, a country marked by poor governance and unsustainable agricultural and environmental policies, the drought had a catalytic effect, contributing to political unrest. We show that the recent decrease in Syrian precipitation is a combination of natural variability and a long-term drying trend, and the unusual severity of the observed drought is here shown to be highly unlikely without this trend. Precipitation changes in Syria are linked to rising mean sea-level pressure in the Eastern Mediterranean, which also shows a long-term trend. There has been also a long-term warming trend in the Eastern Mediterranean, adding to the drawdown of soil moisture. No natural cause is apparent for these trends, whereas the observed drying and warming are consistent with model studies of the response to increases in greenhouse gases. Furthermore, model studies show an increasingly drier and hotter future mean climate for the Eastern Mediterranean. Analyses of observations and model simulations indicate that a drought of the severity and duration of the recent Syrian drought, which is implicated in the current conflict, has become more than twice as likely as a consequence of human interference in the climate system.

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The changing nature of flooding across the central United States

Iman Mallakpour & Gabriele Villarini
Nature Climate Change, March 2015, Pages 250–254

Abstract:
In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, flooding has taken a devastating societal and economic toll on the central United States, contributing to dozens of fatalities and causing billions of dollars in damage. As a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture (the Clausius–Clapeyron relation), a pronounced increase in intense rainfall events is included in models of future climate. Therefore, it is crucial to examine whether the magnitude and/or frequency of flood events is remaining constant or has been changing over recent decades. If either or both of these attributes have changed over time, it is imperative that we understand the underlying mechanisms that are responsible. Here, we show that while observational records (774 stream gauge stations) from the central United States present limited evidence of significant changes in the magnitude of floodpeaks, strong evidence points to an increasing frequency of flooding. These changes in flood hydrology result from changes in both seasonal rainfall and temperature across this region.

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Geoengineering and Climate Change Polarization: Testing a Two-Channel Model of Science Communication

Dan Kahan et al.
ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, March 2015, Pages 192-222

Abstract:
The cultural cognition thesis posits that individuals rely extensively on cultural meanings in forming perceptions of risk. The logic of the cultural cognition thesis suggests that a two-channel science communication strategy, combining information content (“Channel 1”) with cultural meanings (“Channel 2”), could promote open-minded assessment of information across diverse communities. We test this kind of communication strategy in a two-nation (United States, n = 1,500; England, n = 1,500) study, in which scientific information content on climate change was held constant while the cultural meaning of that information was experimentally manipulated. We found that cultural polarization over the validity of climate change science is offset by making citizens aware of the potential contribution of geoengineering as a supplement to restriction of CO2 emissions. We also tested the hypothesis, derived from a competing model of science communication, that exposure to information on geoengineering would lead citizens to discount climate change risks generally. Contrary to this hypothesis, we found that subjects exposed to information about geoengineering were slightly more concerned about climate change risks than those assigned to a control condition.

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Expecting the Unexpected: Emissions Uncertainty and Environmental Market Design

Severin Borenstein et al.
NBER Working Paper, March 2015

Abstract:
We analyze the demand for emissions allowances and the supply of allowances and abatement opportunities in California's 2013-2020 cap and trade market for greenhouse gases (GHG). We estimate a cointegrated vector autoregression for the main drivers of greenhouse gas emissions using annual data from 1990 to 2011. We use these estimates to forecast businss-as-usual (BAU) emissions during California's program and the impact of the state's other GHG reduction programs. We then consider additional price-responsive and price-inelastic activities that will affect the supply/demand balance in the allowance market. We show that there is significant uncertainty in the BAU emissions levels due to uncertainty in economic growth and other factors. Our analysis also suggests that most of the planned abatement will not be very sensitive to the price of allowances, creating a steep abatement supply curve. The combination of BAU emissions uncertainty and inelastic abatement supply implies a high probability that the price of allowances in California will either be at the price floor, or high enough to trigger a safety valve mechanism called the Allowance Price Containment Reserve (APCR). We estimate a low probability that the price would end up in an intermediate range between the price floor and the APCR. The analysis suggests that cap-and-trade markets, as they have been established in California, the EU and elsewhere may be more likely to experience price volatility and extreme low or high prices than is generally recognized.

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Anthropogenic warming has increased drought risk in California

Noah Diffenbaugh, Daniel Swain & Danielle Touma
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
California is currently in the midst of a record-setting drought. The drought began in 2012 and now includes the lowest calendar-year and 12-mo precipitation, the highest annual temperature, and the most extreme drought indicators on record. The extremely warm and dry conditions have led to acute water shortages, groundwater overdraft, critically low streamflow, and enhanced wildfire risk. Analyzing historical climate observations from California, we find that precipitation deficits in California were more than twice as likely to yield drought years if they occurred when conditions were warm. We find that although there has not been a substantial change in the probability of either negative or moderately negative precipitation anomalies in recent decades, the occurrence of drought years has been greater in the past two decades than in the preceding century. In addition, the probability that precipitation deficits co-occur with warm conditions and the probability that precipitation deficits produce drought have both increased. Climate model experiments with and without anthropogenic forcings reveal that human activities have increased the probability that dry precipitation years are also warm. Further, a large ensemble of climate model realizations reveals that additional global warming over the next few decades is very likely to create ∼100% probability that any annual-scale dry period is also extremely warm. We therefore conclude that anthropogenic warming is increasing the probability of co-occurring warm–dry conditions like those that have created the acute human and ecosystem impacts associated with the “exceptional” 2012–2014 drought in California.

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Observational determination of surface radiative forcing by CO2 from 2000 to 2010

D.R. Feldman et al.
Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
The climatic impact of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is usually quantified in terms of radiative forcing, calculated as the difference between estimates of the Earth’s radiation field from pre-industrial and present-day concentrations of these gases. Radiative transfer models calculate that the increase in CO2 since 1750 corresponds to a global annual-mean radiative forcing at the tropopause of 1.82 ± 0.19 W m−2. However, despite widespread scientific discussion and modelling of the climate impacts of well-mixed greenhouse gases, there is little direct observational evidence of the radiative impact of increasing atmospheric CO2. Here we present observationally based evidence of clear-sky CO2 surface radiative forcing that is directly attributable to the increase, between 2000 and 2010, of 22 parts per million atmospheric CO2. The time series of this forcing at the two locations — the Southern Great Plains and the North Slope of Alaska — are derived from Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer spectra together with ancillary measurements and thoroughly corroborated radiative transfer calculations. The time series both show statistically significant trends of 0.2 W m−2 per decade (with respective uncertainties of ±0.06 W m−2 per decade and ±0.07 W m−2 per decade) and have seasonal ranges of 0.1–0.2 W m−2. This is approximately ten per cent of the trend in downwelling longwave radiation. These results confirm theoretical predictions of the atmospheric greenhouse effect due to anthropogenic emissions, and provide empirical evidence of how rising CO2 levels, mediated by temporal variations due to photosynthesis and respiration, are affecting the surface energy balance.

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Changes in observed climate extremes in global urban areas

Vimal Mishra et al.
Environmental Research Letters, February 2015

Abstract:
Climate extremes have profound implications for urban infrastructure and human society, but studies of observed changes in climate extremes over the global urban areas are few, even though more than half of the global population now resides in urban areas. Here, using observed station data for 217 urban areas across the globe, we show that these urban areas have experienced significant increases (p-value <0.05) in the number of heat waves during the period 1973–2012, while the frequency of cold waves has declined. Almost half of the urban areas experienced significant increases in the number of extreme hot days, while almost 2/3 showed significant increases in the frequency of extreme hot nights. Extreme windy days declined substantially during the last four decades with statistically significant declines in about 60% in the urban areas. Significant increases (p-value <0.05) in the frequency of daily precipitation extremes and in annual maximum precipitation occurred at smaller fractions (17 and 10% respectively) of the total urban areas, with about half as many urban areas showing statistically significant downtrends as uptrends. Changes in temperature and wind extremes, estimated as the result of a 40 year linear trend, differed for urban and non-urban pairs, while changes in indices of extreme precipitation showed no clear differentiation for urban and selected non-urban stations.

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Questionnaire Design Effects in Climate Change Surveys: Implications for the Partisan Divide

Jonathon Schuldt, Sungjong Roh & Norbert Schwarz
ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, March 2015, Pages 67-85

Abstract:
Despite strong agreement among scientists, public opinion surveys reveal wide partisan disagreement on climate issues in the United States. We suggest that this divide may be exaggerated by questionnaire design variables. Following a brief literature review, we report on a national survey experiment involving U.S. Democrats and Republicans (n = 2,041) (fielded August 25–September 5, 2012) that examined the effects of question wording and order on the belief that climate change exists, perceptions of scientific consensus, and support for limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Wording a questionnaire in terms of “global warming” (versus “climate change”) reduced Republicans’ (but not Democrats’) existence beliefs and weakened perceptions of the scientific consensus for both groups. Moreover, “global warming” reduced Republicans’ support for limiting greenhouse gases when this question immediately followed personal existence beliefs but not when the scientific consensus question intervened. We highlight the importance of attending to questionnaire design in the analysis of partisan differences.

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Increased frequency of extreme La Niña events under greenhouse warming

Wenju Cai et al.
Nature Climate Change, February 2015, Pages 132–137

Abstract:
The El Niño/Southern Oscillation is Earth’s most prominent source of interannual climate variability, alternating irregularly between El Niño and La Niña, and resulting in global disruption of weather patterns, ecosystems, fisheries and agriculture. The 1998–1999 extreme La Niña event that followed the 1997–1998 extreme El Niño event switched extreme El Niño-induced severe droughts to devastating floods in western Pacific countries, and vice versa in the southwestern United States. During extreme La Niña events, cold sea surface conditions develop in the central Pacific, creating an enhanced temperature gradient from the Maritime continent to the central Pacific. Recent studies have revealed robust changes in El Niño characteristics in response to simulated future greenhouse warming, but how La Niña will change remains unclear. Here we present climate modelling evidence, from simulations conducted for the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5, for a near doubling in the frequency of future extreme La Niña events, from one in every 23 years to one in every 13 years. This occurs because projected faster mean warming of the Maritime continent than the central Pacific, enhanced upper ocean vertical temperature gradients, and increased frequency of extreme El Niño events are conducive to development of the extreme La Niña events. Approximately 75% of the increase occurs in years following extreme El Niño events, thus projecting more frequent swings between opposite extremes from one year to the next.

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Nonlinear regional warming with increasing CO2 concentrations

Peter Good et al.
Nature Climate Change, February 2015, Pages 138–142

Abstract:
When considering adaptation measures and global climate mitigation goals, stakeholders need regional-scale climate projections, including the range of plausible warming rates. To assist these stakeholders, it is important to understand whether some locations may see disproportionately high or low warming from additional forcing above targets such as 2 K. There is a need to narrow uncertainty in this nonlinear warming, which requires understanding how climate changes as forcings increase from medium to high levels. However, quantifying and understanding regional nonlinear processes is challenging. Here we show that regional-scale warming can be strongly superlinear to successive CO2 doublings, using five different climate models. Ensemble-mean warming is superlinear over most land locations. Further, the inter-model spread tends to be amplified at higher forcing levels, as nonlinearities grow — especially when considering changes per kelvin of global warming. Regional nonlinearities in surface warming arise from nonlinearities in global-mean radiative balance, the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, surface snow/ice cover and evapotranspiration. For robust adaptation and mitigation advice, therefore, potentially avoidable climate change (the difference between business-as-usual and mitigation scenarios) and unavoidable climate change (change under strong mitigation scenarios) may need different analysis methods.

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Rising temperatures reduce global wheat production

S. Asseng et al.
Nature Climate Change, February 2015, Pages 143–147

Abstract:
Crop models are essential tools for assessing the threat of climate change to local and global food production. Present models used to predict wheat grain yield are highly uncertain when simulating how crops respond to temperature. Here we systematically tested 30 different wheat crop models of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project against field experiments in which growing season mean temperatures ranged from 15 °C to 32 °C, including experiments with artificial heating. Many models simulated yields well, but were less accurate at higher temperatures. The model ensemble median was consistently more accurate in simulating the crop temperature response than any single model, regardless of the input information used. Extrapolating the model ensemble temperature response indicates that warming is already slowing yield gains at a majority of wheat-growing locations. Global wheat production is estimated to fall by 6% for each °C of further temperature increase and become more variable over space and time.

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Intensity of heat stress in winter wheat — phenology compensates for the adverse effect of global warming

Ehsan Eyshi Rezaei, Stefan Siebert & Frank Ewert
Environmental Research Letters, February 2015

Abstract:
Higher temperatures during the growing season are likely to reduce crop yields with implications for crop production and food security. The negative impact of heat stress has also been predicted to increase even further for cereals such as wheat under climate change. Previous empirical modeling studies have focused on the magnitude and frequency of extreme events during the growth period but did not consider the effect of higher temperature on crop phenology. Based on an extensive set of climate and phenology observations for Germany and period 1951–2009, interpolated to 1 × 1 km resolution and provided as supplementary data to this article (available at stacks.iop.org/ERL/10/024012/mmedia), we demonstrate a strong relationship between the mean temperature in spring and the day of heading (DOH) of winter wheat. We show that the cooling effect due to the 14 days earlier DOH almost fully compensates for the adverse effect of global warming on frequency and magnitude of crop heat stress. Earlier heading caused by the warmer spring period can prevent exposure to extreme heat events around anthesis, which is the most sensitive growth stage to heat stress. Consequently, the intensity of heat stress around anthesis in winter crops cultivated in Germany may not increase under climate change even if the number and duration of extreme heat waves increase. However, this does not mean that global warning would not harm crop production because of other impacts, e.g. shortening of the grain filling period. Based on the trends for the last 34 years in Germany, heat stress (stress thermal time) around anthesis would be 59% higher in year 2009 if the effect of high temperatures on accelerating wheat phenology were ignored. We conclude that climate impact assessments need to consider both the effect of high temperature on grain set at anthesis but also on crop phenology.

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Adaptive potential of a Pacific salmon challenged by climate change

Nicolas Muñoz et al.
Nature Climate Change, February 2015, Pages 163–166

Abstract:
Pacific salmon provide critical sustenance for millions of people worldwide and have far-reaching impacts on the productivity of ecosystems. Rising temperatures now threaten the persistence of these important fishes, yet it remains unknown whether populations can adapt. Here, we provide the first evidence that a Pacific salmon has both physiological and genetic capacities to increase its thermal tolerance in response to rising temperatures. In juvenile chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), a 4 °C increase in developmental temperature was associated with a 2 °C increase in key measures of the thermal performance of cardiac function. Moreover, additive genetic effects significantly influenced several measures of cardiac capacity, indicative of heritable variation on which selection can act. However, a lack of both plasticity and genetic variation was found for the arrhythmic temperature of the heart, constraining this upper thermal limit to a maximum of 24.5 ± 2.2 °C. Linking this constraint on thermal tolerance with present-day river temperatures and projected warming scenarios, we predict a 17% chance of catastrophic loss in the population by 2100 based on the average warming projection, with this chance increasing to 98% in the maximum warming scenario. Climate change mitigation is thus necessary to ensure the future viability of Pacific salmon populations.

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Robust Hadley Circulation changes and increasing global dryness due to CO2 warming from CMIP5 model projections

William Lau & Kyu-Myong Kim
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper, we investigate changes in the Hadley Circulation (HC) and their connections to increased global dryness (suppressed rainfall and reduced tropospheric relative humidity) under CO2 warming from Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) model projections. We find a strengthening of the HC manifested in a “deep-tropics squeeze” (DTS), i.e., a deepening and narrowing of the convective zone, enhanced ascent, increased high clouds, suppressed low clouds, and a rise of the level of maximum meridional mass outflow in the upper troposphere (200−100 hPa) of the deep tropics. The DTS induces atmospheric moisture divergence and reduces tropospheric relative humidity in the tropics and subtropics, in conjunction with a widening of the subsiding branches of the HC, resulting in increased frequency of dry events in preferred geographic locations worldwide. Among various water-cycle parameters examined, global dryness is found to have the highest signal-to-noise ratio. Our results provide a physical basis for inferring that greenhouse warming is likely to contribute to the observed prolonged droughts worldwide in recent decades.

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Response of double cropping suitability to climate change in the United States

Christopher Seifert & David Lobell
Environmental Research Letters, February 2015

Abstract:
In adapting US agriculture to the climate of the 21st century, a key unknown is whether cropping frequency may increase, helping to offset projected negative yield impacts in major production regions. Combining daily weather data and crop phenology models, we find that cultivated area in the US suited to dryland winter wheat–soybeans, the most common double crop (DC) system, increased by up to 28% from 1988 to 2012. Changes in the observed distribution of DC area over the same period agree well with this suitability increase, evidence consistent with climate change playing a role in recent DC expansion in phenologically constrained states. We then apply the model to projections of future climate under the RCP45 and RCP85 scenarios and estimate an additional 126–239% increase, respectively, in DC area. Sensitivity tests reveal that in most instances, increases in mean temperature are more important than delays in fall freeze in driving increased DC suitability. The results suggest that climate change will relieve phenological constraints on wheat–soy DC systems over much of the United States, though it should be recognized that impacts on corn and soybean yields in this region are expected to be negative and larger in magnitude than the 0.4–0.75% per decade benefits we estimate here for double cropping.

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Citizens’, Scientists’, and Policy Advisors’ Beliefs about Global Warming

Toby Bolsen, James Druckman & Fay Lomax Cook
ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, March 2015, Pages 271-295

Abstract:
Numerous factors shape citizens’ beliefs about global warming, but there is very little research that compares the views of the public with key actors in the policymaking process. We analyze data from simultaneous and parallel surveys of (1) the U.S. public, (2) scientists who actively publish research on energy technologies in the United States, and (3) congressional policy advisors and find that beliefs about global warming vary markedly among them. Scientists and policy advisors are more likely than the public to express a belief in the existence and anthropogenic nature of global warming. We also find ideological polarization about global warming in all three groups, although scientists are less polarized than the public and policy advisors over whether global warming is actually occurring. Alarmingly, there is evidence that the ideological divide about global warming gets significantly larger according to respondents’ knowledge about politics, energy, and science.

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Arctic warming will promote Atlantic–Pacific fish interchange

M.S. Wisz et al.
Nature Climate Change, March 2015, Pages 261–265

Abstract:
Throughout much of the Quaternary Period, inhospitable environmental conditions above the Arctic Circle have been a formidable barrier separating most marine organisms in the North Atlantic from those in the North Pacific. Rapid warming has begun to lift this barrier, potentially facilitating the interchange of marine biota between the two seas. Here, we forecast the potential northward progression of 515 fish species following climate change, and report the rate of potential species interchange between the Atlantic and the Pacific via the Northwest Passage and the Northeast Passage. For this, we projected niche-based models under climate change scenarios and simulated the spread of species through the passages when climatic conditions became suitable. Results reveal a complex range of responses during this century, and accelerated interchange after 2050. By 2100 up to 41 species could enter the Pacific and 44 species could enter the Atlantic, via one or both passages. Consistent with historical and recent biodiversity interchanges, this exchange of fish species may trigger changes for biodiversity and food webs in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, with ecological and economic consequences to ecosystems that at present contribute 39% to global marine fish landings.

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The fingerprint of climate trends on European crop yields

Frances Moore & David Lobell
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 3 March 2015, Pages 2670–2675

Abstract:
Europe has experienced a stagnation of some crop yields since the early 1990s as well as statistically significant warming during the growing season. Although it has been argued that these two are causally connected, no previous studies have formally attributed long-term yield trends to a changing climate. Here, we present two statistical tests based on the distinctive spatial pattern of climate change impacts and adaptation, and explore their power under a range of parameter values. We show that statistical power for the identification of climate change impacts is high in many settings, but that power for identifying adaptation is almost always low. Applying these tests to European agriculture, we find evidence that long-term temperature and precipitation trends since 1989 have reduced continent-wide wheat and barley yields by 2.5% and 3.8%, respectively, and have slightly increased maize and sugar beet yields. These averages disguise large heterogeneity across the continent, with regions around the Mediterranean experiencing significant adverse impacts on most crops. This result means that climate trends can account for ∼10% of the stagnation in European wheat and barley yields, with likely explanations for the remainder including changes in agriculture and environmental policies.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Raised right

Why Do Entrepreneurial Parents Have Entrepreneurial Children?

Matthew Lindquist, Joeri Sol & Mirjam Van Praag
Journal of Labor Economics, April 2015, Pages 269-296

Abstract:
We explore the origins of the intergenerational association in entrepreneurship using Swedish adoption data that allow us to quantify the relative importance of prebirth and postbirth factors. We find that parental entrepreneurship increases the probability of children’s entrepreneurship by about 60%. For adoptees, both biological and adoptive parents make significant contributions to this association. These contributions, however, are quite different in size. Postbirth factors account for twice as much as prebirth factors in our decomposition of the intergenerational association in entrepreneurship. We investigate several candidate explanations for this large postbirth factor and present suggestive evidence in favor of role modeling.

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A within-family analysis of birth order and intelligence using population conscription data on Swedish men

Kieron Barclay
Intelligence, March–April 2015, Pages 134–143

Abstract:
This study examines the relationship between birth order and intelligence in Sweden. This research question has been of interest for decades, but only one study using a sibling comparison design has found that birth order has a negative effect on intelligence. The data used in this study is Swedish administrative register data, with data on cognitive ability drawn from the military conscription register for men born 1965 to 1977. Within-family comparison linear regression models are used to estimate the difference in cognitive ability by birth order amongst brothers. I find that there is a negative relationship between birth order and cognitive ability. This is consistent in sibling-group-size-specific analyses of sibling groups with two through to six children. Further analyses demonstrate that this negative relationship between birth order and intelligence is consistent in different socioeconomic status groups, and amongst individuals born in the 1960s and 1970s. Analyses of brothers in two-child sibling groups show that the relationship between birth order and intelligence varies by the birth interval. Second borns have a statistically significantly lower cognitive ability score if the birth interval is up to six years, but not if it is longer.

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Detrimental for Some? Heterogeneous Effects of Maternal Incarceration on Child Wellbeing

Kristin Turney & Christopher Wildeman
Criminology & Public Policy, February 2015, Pages 125–156

Abstract:
We use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 3,197) to consider the heterogeneous effects of maternal incarceration on 9-year-old children. We find that maternal incarceration has no average effects on child wellbeing (measured by caregiver-reported internalizing problem behaviors, caregiver-reported externalizing problem behaviors, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Third Edition scores, and child-reported early juvenile delinquency) but that the effects vary by mothers’ propensities for experiencing incarceration. Maternal incarceration is deleterious for children of mothers least likely to experience incarceration but mostly inconsequential for children of mothers more likely to experience incarceration.

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Serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) genotype moderates the longitudinal impact of early caregiving on externalizing behavior

Zoë Brett et al.
Development and Psychopathology, February 2015, Pages 7-18

Abstract:
We examined caregiver report of externalizing behavior from 12 to 54 months of age in 102 children randomized to care as usual in institutions or to newly created high-quality foster care. At baseline no differences by group or genotype in externalizing were found. However, changes in externalizing from baseline to 42 months of age were moderated by the serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region genotype and intervention group, where the slope for short–short (S/S) individuals differed as a function of intervention group. The slope for individuals carrying the long allele did not significantly differ between groups. At 54 months of age, S/S children in the foster care group had the lowest levels of externalizing behavior, while children with the S/S genotype in the care as usual group demonstrated the highest rates of externalizing behavior. No intervention group differences were found in externalizing behavior among children who carried the long allele. These findings, within a randomized controlled trial of foster care compared to continued care as usual, indicate that the serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region genotype moderates the relation between early caregiving environments to predict externalizing behavior in children exposed to early institutional care in a manner most consistent with differential susceptibility.

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Maternity leave and children’s cognitive and behavioral development

Michael Baker & Kevin Milligan
Journal of Population Economics, April 2015, Pages 373-391

Abstract:
We investigate the impact of maternity leave on the cognitive and behavioral development of children at ages 4 and 5, following up previous research on these children at younger ages. The impact is identified by legislated increases in the duration of maternity leave in Canada, which significantly increased the amount of first-year maternal care. Our results indicate no positive effect on indices of children’s cognitive and behavioral development. We uncover a small negative impact on PPVT scores.

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Nonresident fatherhood and adolescent sexual behavior: A comparison of siblings approach

Rebecca Ryan
Developmental Psychology, February 2015, Pages 211-223

Abstract:
Although voluminous research has linked nonresident fatherhood to riskier sexual behavior in adolescence, including earlier sexual debut, neither the causality of that link nor the mechanism accounting for it has been well-established. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 — the Young Adult Survey (CNLSY-YA), the present study addresses both questions by comparing the sexual development of siblings discordant for age at father departure from the home and examining results across behavioral (age at first intercourse), biological (pubertal timing), and cognitive (attitudes about childbearing and marriage) sexual outcomes (N = 5,542). Findings indicate that nonresident fatherhood, beginning either at birth or during middle childhood, leads to an earlier sexual debut for girls, but not for boys, an effect likely explained by weak parental monitoring rather than an accelerated reproductive strategy.

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Breastfeeding duration and non-verbal IQ in children

Ayesha Sajjad et al.
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: Breastfeeding has been related to better cognitive development in children. However, due to methodological challenges, such as confounding, recall bias or insufficient power, the mechanism and nature of the relation remains subject to debate.

Methods: We included 3761 participants of a population-based cohort study from fetal life onwards and examined the association of breastfeeding duration with non-verbal intelligence in children of age 6 years. Maternal and paternal lifestyle, sociodemographic factors, child factors and maternal IQ were tested for their confounding effects on the association.

Results: We observed an initial association between breastfeeding duration and child IQ conferring an advantage of 0.32 (0.20 to 0.44) points for each additional month of breastfeeding. This association strongly attenuated to 0.09 (−0.03 to 0.21) points after adjustment for child factors, sociodemographic factors, parental lifestyle factors and maternal IQ. Similarly, the associations with breastfeeding duration as a categorical variable largely disappeared after confounding factors were added to the models.

Conclusions: The association between breastfeeding and child IQ can be largely explained by sociodemographic factors, parental lifestyle and maternal IQ. Our results cannot confirm beneficial effects of breastfeeding on child intelligence.

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Does the Amount of Time Mothers Spend With Children or Adolescents Matter?

Melissa Milkie, Kei Nomaguchi & Kathleen Denny
Journal of Marriage and Family, April 2015, Pages 355–372

Abstract:
Although intensive mothering ideology underscores the irreplaceable nature of mothers' time for children's optimal development, empirical testing of this assumption is scant. Using time diary and survey data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics Child Development Supplement, the authors examined how the amount of time mothers spent with children ages 3–11 (N = 1,605) and adolescents 12–18 (N = 778) related to offspring behavioral, emotional, and academic outcomes and adolescent risky behavior. Both time mothers spent engaged with and accessible to offspring were assessed. In childhood and adolescence, the amount of maternal time did not matter for offspring behaviors, emotions, or academics, whereas social status factors were important. For adolescents, more engaged maternal time was related to fewer delinquent behaviors, and engaged time with parents together was related to better outcomes. Overall, the amount of mothers' time mattered in nuanced ways, and, unexpectedly, only in adolescence.

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Parenting Influence on the Development of Life History Strategy

Curtis Dunkel et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a newly developed measure of life history strategy, the influence of maternal and paternal sensitivity in childhood and maternal and paternal authoritative parenting in late adolescence on developing life history strategy was examined. Maternal sensitivity and maternal and paternal authoritative parenting were positively correlated with a slow LH strategy. Maternal sensitivity and maternal authoritative parenting each explained unique variance in life history strategy as measured in late adolescence. The results remained after controlling for ethnicity, sex, childhood SES, intelligence, and childhood temperament. Consistent with previous research and theory the results suggest that maternal sensitivity in early childhood affects the development of life history strategy. However, the results also suggest that significant post pubertal plasticity in life history strategy development remains and that parental behavior continues to be influential in an individual’s developing life history strategy.

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Unattractive infant faces elicit negative affect from adults

Stevie Schein & Judith Langlois
Infant Behavior and Development, February 2015, Pages 130–134

Abstract:
We examined the relationship between infant attractiveness and adult affect by investigating whether differing levels of infant facial attractiveness elicit facial muscle movement correlated with positive and negative affect from adults (N = 87) using electromyography. Unattractive infant faces evoked significantly more corrugator supercilii and levator labii superioris movement (physiological correlates of negative affect) than attractive infant faces. These results suggest that unattractive infants may be at risk for negative affective responses from adults, though the relationship between those responses and caregiving behavior remains elusive.

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Menstrual cycle phase affects discrimination of infant cuteness

Janek Lobmaier et al.
Hormones and Behavior, April 2015, Pages 1–6

Abstract:
Recent studies have shown that women are more sensitive than men to subtle cuteness differences in infant faces. It has been suggested that raised levels in estradiol and progesterone may be responsible for this advantage. We compared young women's sensitivity to computer-manipulated baby faces varying in cuteness. Thirty-six women were tested once during ovulation and once during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle. In a two alternative forced-choice experiment, participants chose the baby which they thought was cuter (Task 1), younger (Task 2), or the baby that they would prefer to babysit (Task 3). Saliva samples to assess levels of estradiol, progesterone and testosterone were collected at each test session. During ovulation, women were more likely to choose the cuter baby than during the luteal phase, in all three tasks. These results suggest that cuteness discrimination may be driven by cyclic hormonal shifts. However none of the measured hormones were related to increased cuteness sensitivity. We speculate that other hormones than the ones measured here might be responsible for the increased sensitivity to subtle cuteness differences during ovulation.

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Effect of Early Institutionalization and Foster Care on Long-term White Matter Development: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Johanna Bick et al.
JAMA Pediatrics, March 2015, Pages 211-219

Objective: To examine associations among neglect in early life, early intervention, and the microstructural integrity of white matter pathways in middle childhood.

Design, Setting, and Participants: The Bucharest Early Intervention Project is a randomized clinical trial of high-quality foster care as an intervention for institutionally reared children in Bucharest, Romania, from 2000 through the present. During infancy, children were randomly selected to remain in an institution or to be placed in foster care. Those who remained in institutions experienced neglect, including social, emotional, linguistic, and cognitive impoverishment. Developmental trajectories of these children were compared with a group of sociodemographically matched children reared in biological families at baseline and several points throughout development. At approximately 8 years of age, 69 of the original 136 children underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging scans.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Four estimates of white matter integrity (fractional anisotropy [FA] and mean [MD], radial [RD], and axial [AD] diffusivity) for 48 white matter tracts throughout the brain were obtained through diffusion tensor imaging.

Results: Significant associations emerged between neglect in early life and microstructural integrity of the body of the corpus callosum (FA, β = 0.01 [P = .01]; RD, β = −0.02 [P = .005]; MD, β = −0.01 [P = .02]) and tracts involved in limbic circuitry (fornix crus [AD, β = 0.02 (P = .046)] and cingulum [RD, β = −0.01 (P = .02); MD, β = −0.01 (P = .049)]), frontostriatal circuitry (anterior [AD, β = −0.01 (P = .02)] and superior [AD, β = −0.02 (P = .02); MD, β = −0.01 (P = .03)] corona radiata and external capsule [right FA, β = 0.01 (P = .03); left FA, β = 0.01 (P = .03); RD, β = −0.01 (P = .01); MD, β = −0.01 (P = .03)]), and sensory processing (medial lemniscus [AD, β = −0.02 (P = .045); MD, β = −0.01 (P = .04)] and retrolenticular internal capsule [FA, β = −0.01 (P = .002); RD, β = 0.01 (P = .003); MD, β = 0.01 (P = .04)]). Follow-up analyses revealed that early intervention promoted more normative white matter development among previously neglected children who entered foster care.

Conclusions and Relevance: Results suggest that removal from conditions of neglect in early life and entry into a high-quality family environment can support more normative trajectories of white matter growth. Our findings have implications for public health and policy efforts designed to promote normative brain development among vulnerable children.

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Young adults’ reactions to infant crying

Christine Hechler, Roseriet Beijers & Carolina de Weerth
Infant Behavior and Development, February 2015, Pages 41–48

Aim: To determine whether young childless adults show negative emotions and cognitive disturbances when listening to infant crying, compared to other disturbing noises, and whether negative emotions and cognitive disturbances are associated.

Methods: We tested the cognitive performances and emotional reactions of 120 childless participants on a working memory task while being subjected to different disturbing noises including infant crying.

Results: Participants had the least correct trials on the working memory task, and showed the most negative emotions, when hearing infant crying as compared to the other noises. Participants also showed less positive emotions when hearing infant crying as compared to working in silence. Overall, negative emotions were associated with less correct trials on the working memory task, except in the infant crying condition. Furthermore, cognitive performance and emotional reactions to infant crying were unrelated to personality characteristics.

Conclusion: Negative emotions and cognitive disturbances may be general adult responses to infant crying that are not limited to parents. These results suggest a broadly present human emotional and cognitive response to infant crying, that may underlie a general predisposition to care for infants in distress.

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Can’t buy mommy’s love? Universal childcare and children’s long-term cognitive development

Christina Felfe, Natalia Nollenberger & Núria Rodríguez-Planas
Journal of Population Economics, April 2015, Pages 393-422

Abstract:
What happens to children’s long-run cognitive development when introducing universal high-quality childcare for 3-year-olds mainly crowds out family care? To answer this question, we take advantage of a sizeable expansion of publicly subsidized full-time high-quality childcare for 3-year-olds in Spain in the early 1990s. Identification relies on variation in the initial speed of the expansion of childcare slots across states. Using a difference-in-difference approach, we find strong evidence for sizeable improvements in children’s reading skills at age 15 (0.15 standard deviation) and weak evidence for a reduction in grade retentions during primary school (2.5 percentage points). The effects are driven by girls and disadvantaged children.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, March 9, 2015

Blue horseshoe loves

Insider Trading in Supervised Industries

David Reeb, Yuzhao Zhang & Wanli Zhao
Journal of Law and Economics, August 2014, Pages 529-559

Abstract:
We investigate the impact of government agency oversight, such as by the Federal Reserve, on insider trading at the firm level. Regulatory supervision potentially limits trading based on material, nonpublic information, as it provides another layer of corporate governance to mitigate outflows of private information. Yet regulators themselves may serve as a source of information leakage, thereby facilitating insider-trading activity. We find, first, that in comparison to nonsupervised firms, supervised firms exhibit substantially greater trading based on inside information prior to earnings announcements. Second, in the first few days after firms provide private information to regulators or when regulators possess private information inaccessible to corporate insiders, these firms exhibit greater symptoms of insider trading. Finally, within a given supervised industry, insider-trading symptoms appear more pronounced when regulators exhibit greater leniency or operate in states with more political corruption. These insider-trading activities translate into over $1 billion in annual transfers.

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Thar SHE Blows? Gender, Competition, and Bubbles in Experimental Asset Markets

Catherine Eckel & Sascha Füllbrunn
American Economic Review, February 2015, Pages 906-920

Abstract:
Do women and men behave differently in financial asset markets? Our results from an asset market experiment show a marked gender difference in producing speculative price bubbles. Mixed markets show intermediate values, and a meta-analysis of 35 markets from different studies confirms the inverse relationship between the magnitude of price bubbles and the frequency of female traders in the market. Women's price forecasts also are significantly lower, even in the first period. Implications for financial markets and experimental methodology are discussed.

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Rumor Has It: Sensationalism in Financial Media

Kenneth Ahern & Denis Sosyura
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
The media has an incentive to publish sensational news. We study how this incentive affects the accuracy of media coverage in the context of merger rumors. Using a novel dataset, we find that accuracy is predicted by a journalist's experience, specialized education, and industry expertise. Conversely, less accurate stories use ambiguous language and feature well-known firms with broad readership appeal. Investors do not fully account for the predictive power of these characteristics, leading to an initial target price overreaction and a subsequent reversal, consistent with limited attention. Overall, we provide novel evidence on the determinants of media accuracy and its effect on asset prices.

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Do Sophisticated Investors Interpret Earnings Conference Call Tone Differently than Investors at Large? Evidence from Short Sales

Benjamin Blau, Jared DeLisle & McKay Price
Journal of Corporate Finance, April 2015, Pages 203–219

Abstract:
Recent research finds that investors, broadly defined, react to the linguistic tone of quarterly earnings conference calls; there is a positive relation between firms' stock returns and call tone (a measure of “sentiment” related word tabulations). However, this type of soft information can be subtle, context-specific, and difficult to interpret. Moreover, the literature suggests cross-sectional variation in information processing skills among investors. Thus, we test whether sophisticated investors interpret earnings conference call tone differently than investors at large by examining short selling activity and its relation to earnings conference call tone. We find that short sellers target firms with simultaneous high earnings surprise and abnormally high management tone. The combination of positive earnings surprise and unusually positive tone strengthens short sellers' return predictability. This result indicates that short sellers interpret revealed “inflated” call language by managers more completely than naïve investors. The incomplete stock price reaction by naïve investors due to the lack of reliability they place on this soft information results in overpricing of the stock. However, it also suggests that managers are unable to maintain prolonged overvaluation of their stock by striking an overly optimistic posture in the interactive conference call disclosure forum since short sellers' trades provide additional price discovery.

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Tips and Tells from Managers: How Analysts and the Market Read Between the Lines of Conference Calls

Marina Druz, Alexander Wagner & Richard Zeckhauser
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
Stock prices react significantly to the tone (negativity of words) managers use on earnings conference calls. This reaction reflects reasonably rational use of information. “Tone surprise” – the residual when negativity in managerial tone is regressed on the firm’s recent economic performance and CEO fixed effects – predicts future earnings and analyst uncertainty. Prices move more, as hypothesized, in firms where tone surprise predicts more strongly. Experienced analysts respond appropriately in revising their forecasts; inexperienced analysts overreact (underreact) to tone surprises in presentations (answers). Post-call price drift, like post-earnings announcement drift, suggests less-than-full-use of information embedded in managerial tone.

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The hidden face of the media: How financial journalists produce information

Congcong Li
University of Maryland Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
This study investigates how the media produces information. Using a sample of 296,497 Wall Street Journal news articles, I find that news articles written by experienced and reputable financial journalists are more informative about future earnings. I then examine the source of such information advantage by studying the detailed quotes from news articles. I further find that these journalists rely more heavily on first-hand access to management, institutional investors, and other external experts, an important channel through which they produce informative news. Interestingly, however, this information advantage is present only when the experienced and reputable journalists remain independent — for those journalists that repeatedly cover the same firm or rely primarily on information from management, the networking information advantage is completely muted. These results suggest that the quality of the media as an information intermediary depends critically on individual journalists’ ability to access information from industry networks and provide unbiased news.

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Hedge Funds and Stock Market Efficiency

Joni Kokkonen & Matti Suominen
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We measure misvaluation using the discounted residual income model. As shown in the literature, this measure of stocks' misvaluation significantly explains their future cross-sectional returns. We measure the market-level misvaluation (market inefficiency) by the misvaluation spread: the difference in the misvaluation of the most overvalued and undervalued shares. We show that the misvaluation spread is a strong predictor of a misvaluation-based long–short portfolio’s returns, reinforcing the hypothesis that it proxies for the level of mispricing in the stock market. Using data on hedge fund returns, hedge fund industry assets under management, flows, and individual hedge fund holdings, we present evidence that hedge funds' trading reduces market-level misvaluation. Our results are robust across different time periods and are not driven by market liquidity. Moreover, we find that mutual funds do not have the price-correcting effect that hedge funds have.

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Trust and Investment Management: The Effects of Manager Trustworthiness on Hedge Fund Investments

Ankur Pareek & Roy Zuckerman
Rutgers Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
This paper studies the effect of perceived manager trustworthiness on hedge fund investment. Controlling for past-performance, we find that hedge fund managers whose photographs are rated as more trustworthy are able to attract greater fund flows, in the medium performance range, and have a less convex flow-performance relationship compared to the managers rated as less trustworthy. We also find that "trustworthy" managers are more likely to survive given poor past-performance and generate lower risk-adjusted returns when compared to managers who are perceived as less trustworthy. We attribute this phenomenon to over-investment with "trustworthy" managers caused by an investor bias.

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Positive Mood and Investment Decisions: Evidence from Comedy Movie Attendance in the U.S.

Gabriele Lepori
Research in International Business and Finance, May 2015, Pages 142–163

Abstract:
Positive mood has been repeatedly shown to affect decision-making under risk. In this study I exploit the time-series variation in the domestic theatrical release of comedy movies as a natural experiment for testing the impact that happy mood (proxied by weekend comedy movie attendance) has on the demand for risky assets (proxied by the performance of the U.S. stock market). Using a sample of data from 1994 to 2010, I estimate that an increase in comedy attendance on a given weekend is followed by a decrease in equity returns on the subsequent Monday, which is consistent with the mood-maintenance hypothesis.

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Investor Mood and Demand for Stocks: Evidence from Popular TV Series Finales

Gabriele Lepori
Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper I employ a novel discrete mood proxy to investigate the response of the U.S. stock market to exogenous daily variations in investor mood. Drawing upon the psychology and communication literature, which documents that the end of popular TV series causes negative emotional reactions in large numbers of television viewers, I employ major TV series finales (between 1967 and 2012) as mood-altering events. I find that an increase in the fraction of Americans watching a TV show finale on a given day is immediately followed by a decrease in U.S. stock returns. This effect is stronger in small-cap and high-volatility stocks, whose pricing is more sensitive to sentiment, and is consistent with the hypothesis that negative mood reduces the demand for risky assets.

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Contractual incompleteness, limited liability and asset price bubbles

James Dow & Jungsuk Han
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
When should we expect bubbles? Can levered intermediaries bid up risky asset prices through asset substitution? We study an economy with financial intermediaries that issue debt and equity to buy risky assets. Asset substitution alone cannot cause bubbles because it is priced into the intermediaries׳ securities. But incomplete contracts and managerial agency problems can make intermediaries take excessive risk to exploit limited liability, bidding up risky asset prices. This destroys welfare through misallocation of resources. We argue that incentives for private monitoring cannot solve this problem. Finally, even without agency problems, debt subsidies will create similar effects.

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A Comparison of Buy-Side and Sell-Side Analysts

Jeffrey Hobbs & Vivek Singh
Review of Financial Economics, January 2015, Pages 42–51

Abstract:
There is very little research on the topic of buy-side analyst performance, and that which does exist yields mixed results. We use a large sample from both the buy- and sell-side and report several new results. First, while the contemporaneous returns to portfolios based on sell-side recommendations are positive, the returns for buy-side analysts, proxied by changes in institutional holdings, are negative. Second, the buy-side analysts’ underperformance is accentuated when they trade against sell-side analysts’ recommendations. Third, abnormal returns positively relate to both the portfolio size, and turnover of buy-side analysts’ institutions, suggesting that large institutions employ superior analysts and that superior analysts frequently change their recommendations. Abnormal returns are also positively related to buy-side portfolios with stocks that have higher analyst coverage, greater institutional holding, and lower earnings forecast dispersion. Fourth, there is substantial persistence in buy-side performance, but even the top decile performs poorly. These findings suggest that sell-side analysts still outperform buy-side analysts despite the severe conflicts of interest documented in the literature.

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Change You Can Believe In? Hedge Fund Data Revisions

Andrew Patton, Tarun Ramadorai & Michael Streatfield
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We analyze the reliability of voluntary disclosures of financial information, focusing on widely-employed publicly available hedge fund databases. Tracking changes to statements of historical performance recorded between 2007 and 2011, we find that historical returns are routinely revised. These revisions are not merely random or corrections of earlier mistakes; they are partly forecastable by fund characteristics. Funds that revise their performance histories significantly and predictably underperform those that have never revised, suggesting that unreliable disclosures constitute a valuable source of information for investors. These results speak to current debates about mandatory disclosures by financial institutions to market regulators.

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Top VC IPO Underpricing

Daniel Bradley, Incheol Kim & Laurie Krigman
Journal of Corporate Finance, April 2015, Pages 186–202

Abstract:
Before the IPO bubble burst, the first day return for IPOs backed by top VCs firms was double that of non-top VCs IPOs. Top VC IPOs were also twice as likely to receive all-star analyst coverage and suffered twice as large negative returns upon lockup expiration. We argue that this was not a coincidence. Underwriters benefited from underpricing vis-à-vis allocation strategies whereas VCs gain from information momentum which allows them to cash-out at higher prices at lockup expiration. All-stars are a scarce resource underwriters allocate to their best clients (Top VCs) who bring them repeat business. Post-bubble, regulatory shocks restricted preferential IPO allocations and reduced the value of all-star coverage. Consequently, these relations disappeared indicating that regulatory changes likely had the desired effect.

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The Real Effects of Short-Selling Constraints

Gustavo Grullon, Sébastien Michenaud & James Weston
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use a regulatory experiment (Regulation SHO) that relaxes short-selling constraints on a random sample of U.S. stocks to test whether capital market frictions have an effect on stock prices and corporate decisions. We find that an increase in short-selling activity causes prices to fall, and that small firms react to these lower prices by reducing equity issues and investment. These results not only provide evidence that short-selling constraints affect asset prices, but also confirm that short-selling activity has a causal impact on financing and investment decisions.

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How Quickly Do Markets Learn? Private Information Dissemination in a Natural Experiment

Robert Jackson, Wei Jiang & Joshua Mitts
Columbia University Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Using data from a unique episode in which the SEC disseminated securities filings to a small group of private investors before releasing them to the public, we provide a direct test of the process through which private information is impounded into stock prices. Because the delay between the time when the filings were privately distributed and when the filings were made public was randomly distributed, our setting provides a rare natural experiment for examining how markets process new private information. We find that it takes minutes — not seconds — for informed traders to incorporate fundamental information into stock prices. We also show that the private investors who had early access to fundamental information profited more, and convey more information into stock prices, when the delay before the filings are released to the public is longer. More importantly, the rate at which information is impounded into stock prices is more correlated with the length of the predicted delay before public release than the actual delay, suggesting that informed investors trade strategically. Our study serves as the modern counterpart to Koudijs’s (2014a) study on insider trading on eighteenth-century stock exchanges — except, in our case, week-long sailing voyages have been replaced by modern electronic transmission as the conduit for information flows.

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Joining the conversation: How quiet is the IPO quiet period?

Matthew Cedergren
NYU Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
This study evaluates the IPO quiet period, which restricts managers' ability to publicly communicate in the weeks immediately following the IPO. I investigate the effectiveness of and compliance with the quiet period for a sample of 3,380 IPOs from 1996 through 2011, and report several key findings. Firms significantly increase their communication immediately after the quiet period expires, and this manifests in more firm-specific information in returns. While this suggests the quiet period rules are effective on average, I find that there is non-random variation across firms in this effectiveness. In particular, the marginal effect of increased communication on firm-specific information processed by the market is greater for firms which are harder to value or receive less-than-expected attention in the aftermarket. Moreover, notwithstanding overall effectiveness, I find wide variation in the level of compliance with the quiet period, and that firms benefit from non-compliance. In particular, firms with more quiet period "loudness" obtain more analyst attention and are more likely to meet or beat future consensus forecasts. Collectively, the results suggest that [1] the quiet period rules prevent investors from learning useful information in a timely manner, and [2] a lack of SEC enforcement provides advantages to firms that violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the rules. This calls into question whether the IPO quiet period rules — essentially unchanged for over 80 years — remain relevant and useful in modern equity markets.

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Are Firms in "Boring" Industries Worth Less?

Jia Chen, Kewei Hou & René Stulz
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Using theories from the behavioral finance literature to predict that investors are attracted to industries with more salient outcomes and that therefore firms in such industries have higher valuations, we find that firms in industries that have high industry-level dispersion of profitability have on average higher market-to-book ratios than firms in low dispersion industries. This positive relation between market-to-book ratios and industry profitability dispersion is economically large and statistically significant and is robust to controlling for variables used to explain firm-level valuation ratios in the literature. Consistent with the mispricing explanation of this finding, we show that firms in less boring industries have a lower implied cost of equity and lower realized returns. We explore alternative explanations for our finding, but find that these alternative explanations cannot explain our results.

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Should you globally diversify or let the globally diversified firm do it for you?

Javeria Farooqi, Daniel Huerta & Thanh Ngo
Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines whether investor-made international diversification outperforms corporate international diversification. Our results indicate that internationally diversified firms yield higher returns relative to investor-made internationally diversified portfolios. Our results partially offer an explanation for the ‘home bias puzzle’, which argues that international asset holdings in individual portfolios remain significantly lower than forecasted by analysts despite the integration of global capital markets. However, as firms increase the number of geographic segments, the excess returns are lower. Additionally, firms that belong to durables, energy, manufacturing, shops and telecommunication industries have higher excess returns relative to other industries. Overall, our results suggest that investors will earn higher returns by investing in globally diversified MNCs rather than by attempting to build mimicking internationally diversified portfolios.

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Home away from Home: Geography of Information and Local Investors

Gennaro Bernile, Alok Kumar & Johan Sulaeman
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We develop a 10-K-based multidimensional measure of firm locations. Using this measure, we show that firm-level information is geographically distributed and institutional investors are able to exploit the resulting information asymmetry. Specifically, institutional investors overweigh firms whose 10-K frequently mentions the investors' state even when those firms are not headquartered locally and earn superior returns on those stocks. These ownership and performance patterns are stronger among hard-to-value firms. Local investor performance increases with the degree of local bias and with the local economic exposure of portfolio firms. Overall, geographical variation in firm-level information generates economically significant location-based information asymmetry.

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(How) has the market become more efficient?

Stephen Bertone, Imants Paeglis & Rahul Ravi
Journal of Banking & Finance, May 2015, Pages 72–86

Abstract:
Using a portfolio of Dow Jones Industrial Average index constituents and the index ETF, we document significant intraday deviations from the law of one price. These are especially pronounced at very short time intervals. The extent of deviations is related to volatility, liquidity, and transaction costs of both the index constituents and the ETF. Further, the influence of news arrival, and liquidity (volatility) shocks on the deviations persists for several hours. Finally, we document significant decline (by at least 80%) in the deviations between 1998 and 2010. We find that this decline is largely due to decimalization, the repeal of the uptick rule, and the introduction of automated updating of the NYSE order book. Overall, our findings indicate an increase in operational market efficiency.

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Does transparency imply efficiency? The case of the European soccer betting market

Anastasios Oikonomidis, Alistair Bruce & Johnnie Johnson
Economics Letters, March 2015, Pages 59–61

Abstract:
We discover mispricing in an apparently transparent market - the European soccer betting market. Efficiency differences between countries are accounted for by variations in league competitiveness. We conclude that barriers to efficiency (e.g., risk evaluation problems) may remain in transparent markets.

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Why Stay-at-Home Investing Makes Sense

Martha O’Hagan-Luff & Jenny Berrill
International Review of Financial Analysis, March 2015, Pages 1–14

Abstract:
Despite the benefits of international diversification investors continue to display a preference for home based investments. Given this preference we investigate whether it is possible to mimic the benefits of international diversification via domestically traded products. We test this from the perspective of US investors for 37 countries between 1996 and 2011. We seek to replicate the equity index of each country with domestically traded US products such as Industry Indices, Multinational Corporations, American Depository Receipts, single country iShares ETFs and Closed-End Country Funds to investigate whether the benefits of international diversification can be exhausted domestically. While the benefits of investing overseas vary significantly across sub-periods, portfolios of US-traded products can replicate 36 of the 37 foreign country indices. These findings are robust to variance in the performance and volatility of the US market relative to other markets. US investors do not need to invest overseas to reap the benefits of international diversification.

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Can the Bond Price Reaction to Earnings Announcements Predict Future Stock Returns?

Omri Even-Tov
University of California Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
In this paper I show that the bond price reaction to earnings announcements has predictive power for post-announcement stock returns and that it is incremental to previously documented accounting-related anomalies. I find that bonds’ predictive ability is driven by non-investment grade bonds, for which earnings releases provide more value-relevant information. It is also stronger in firms with a lower proportion of institutional shareholders and for bonds whose trading is more heavily dominated by sophisticated investors. This suggests that the greater level of investor sophistication in the bond market relative to the stock market is what gives bond returns the ability to predict future stock returns. By demonstrating that a firm’s bond price reaction to an earnings announcement can predict future stock returns, this paper adds to the literature which documents that various earnings components also have predictive ability for post-announcement stock returns.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, March 8, 2015

For old times' sake

Levantine cranium from Manot Cave (Israel) foreshadows the first European modern humans

Israel Hershkovitz et al.
Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
A key event in human evolution is the expansion of modern humans of African origin across Eurasia between 60 and 40 thousand years (kyr) before present (BP), replacing all other forms of hominins. Owing to the scarcity of human fossils from this period, these ancestors of all present-day non-African modern populations remain largely enigmatic. Here we describe a partial calvaria, recently discovered at Manot Cave (Western Galilee, Israel) and dated to 54.7 ± 5.5 kyr BP (arithmetic mean ± 2 standard deviations) by uranium–thorium dating, that sheds light on this crucial event. The overall shape and discrete morphological features of the Manot 1 calvaria demonstrate that this partial skull is unequivocally modern. It is similar in shape to recent African skulls as well as to European skulls from the Upper Palaeolithic period, but different from most other early anatomically modern humans in the Levant. This suggests that the Manot people could be closely related to the first modern humans who later successfully colonized Europe. Thus, the anatomical features used to support the ‘assimilation model’ in Europe might not have been inherited from European Neanderthals, but rather from earlier Levantine populations. Moreover, at present, Manot 1 is the only modern human specimen to provide evidence that during the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic interface, both modern humans and Neanderthals contemporaneously inhabited the southern Levant, close in time to the likely interbreeding event with Neanderthals.

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Human-like hand use in Australopithecus africanus

Matthew Skinner et al.
Science, 23 January 2015, Pages 395-399

Abstract:
The distinctly human ability for forceful precision and power “squeeze” gripping is linked to two key evolutionary transitions in hand use: a reduction in arboreal climbing and the manufacture and use of tools. However, it is unclear when these locomotory and manipulative transitions occurred. Here we show that Australopithecus africanus (~3 to 2 million years ago) and several Pleistocene hominins, traditionally considered not to have engaged in habitual tool manufacture, have a human-like trabecular bone pattern in the metacarpals consistent with forceful opposition of the thumb and fingers typically adopted during tool use. These results support archaeological evidence for stone tool use in australopiths and provide morphological evidence that Pliocene hominins achieved human-like hand postures much earlier and more frequently than previously considered.

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Fingerprints, sex, state, and the organization of the Tell Leilan ceramic industry

Akiva Sanders
Journal of Archaeological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The goal of this research is to elucidate the organization of ceramic production at Tell Leilan, Northeast Syria with respect to gender roles from 3400 to 1700 BCE through a study of fingerprint impressions on pottery. Using the distribution of epidermal ridge densities, a technique has been developed and tested to determine the proportion of men and women who formed and finished vessels in a ceramic assemblage. Analysis of 106 fingerprints preserved on sherds indicates that there is a discrete change in the sex ratio of potters at Leilan coincident with the rise of urbanism and state formation in northern Mesopotamia. No change in this pattern, however, are yet correlated with other political shifts, such as changes in the various regimes that had hegemony over the site during the Early and Middle Bronze Age. These results provide new information about the effect of state authority on the public and private organization of crafts as well as the division of society along gender lines. Surprisingly, this transformation in gender roles, which coincides with the rise of the state at Tell Leilan, is not visible at village sites in the Tell Leilan Regional Survey. This indicates that the changes in social fabric that occurred at urban sites with the establishment of state institutions did not occur to the same extent in smaller settlements even though the state did control some of the ceramic production at these sites, at least during the Akkadian period. This methodology and research has implications beyond northern Mesopotamia and provides an innovative technique to empirically test the highly theoretical literature on the relationship of gender to craft production in the archaeological record.

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Alluvial fan records from southeast Arabia reveal multiple windows for human dispersal

Ash Parton et al.
Geology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The dispersal of human populations out of Africa into Arabia was most likely linked to episodes of climatic amelioration, when increased monsoon rainfall led to the activation of drainage systems, improved freshwater availability, and the development of regional vegetation. Here we present the first dated terrestrial record from southeast Arabia that provides evidence for increased rainfall and the expansion of vegetation during both glacial and interglacial periods. Findings from extensive alluvial fan deposits indicate that drainage system activation occurred during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6 (ca. 160–150 ka), MIS 5 (ca. 130–75 ka), and during early MIS 3 (ca. 55 ka). The development of active freshwater systems during these periods corresponds with monsoon intensity increases during insolation maxima, suggesting that humid periods in Arabia were not confined to eccentricity-paced deglaciations, and providing paleoenvironmental support for multiple windows of opportunity for dispersal out of Africa during the late Pleistocene.

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Sedimentary DNA from a submerged site reveals wheat in the British Isles 8000 years ago

Oliver Smith et al.
Science, 27 February 2015, Pages 998-1001

Abstract:
The Mesolithic-to-Neolithic transition marked the time when a hunter-gatherer economy gave way to agriculture, coinciding with rising sea levels. Bouldnor Cliff, is a submarine archaeological site off the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom that has a well-preserved Mesolithic paleosol dated to 8000 years before the present. We analyzed a core obtained from sealed sediments, combining evidence from microgeomorphology and microfossils with sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) analyses to reconstruct floral and faunal changes during the occupation of this site, before it was submerged. In agreement with palynological analyses, the sedaDNA sequences suggest a mixed habitat of oak forest and herbaceous plants. However, they also provide evidence of wheat 2000 years earlier than mainland Britain and 400 years earlier than proximate European sites. These results suggest that sophisticated social networks linked the Neolithic front in southern Europe to the Mesolithic peoples of northern Europe.

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Effects of the demographic transition on the genetic variances and covariances of human life-history traits

Elisabeth Bolund et al.
Evolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
The recent demographic transitions to lower mortality and fertility rates in most human societies have led to changes and even quick reversals in phenotypic selection pressures. This can only result in evolutionary change if the affected traits are heritable, but changes in environmental conditions may also lead to subsequent changes in the genetic variance and covariance (the G matrix) of traits. It currently remains unclear if there have been concomitant changes in the G matrix of life-history traits following the demographic transition. Using 300 years of genealogical data from Finland, we found that four key life-history traits were heritable both before and after the demographic transition. The estimated heritabilities allow a quantifiable genetic response to selection during both time periods, thus facilitating continued evolutionary change. Further, the G matrices remained largely stable but revealed a trend for an increased additive genetic variance and thus evolutionary potential of the population after the transition. Our results demonstrate the validity of predictions of evolutionary change in human populations even after the recent dramatic environmental change, and facilitate predictions of how our biology interacts with changing environments, with implications for global public health and demography.

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Climate-driven introduction of the Black Death and successive plague reintroductions into Europe

Boris Schmid et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Black Death, originating in Asia, arrived in the Mediterranean harbors of Europe in 1347 CE, via the land and sea trade routes of the ancient Silk Road system. This epidemic marked the start of the second plague pandemic, which lasted in Europe until the early 19th century. This pandemic is generally understood as the consequence of a singular introduction of Yersinia pestis, after which the disease established itself in European rodents over four centuries. To locate these putative plague reservoirs, we studied the climate fluctuations that preceded regional plague epidemics, based on a dataset of 7,711 georeferenced historical plague outbreaks and 15 annually resolved tree-ring records from Europe and Asia. We provide evidence for repeated climate-driven reintroductions of the bacterium into European harbors from reservoirs in Asia, with a delay of 15 ± 1 y. Our analysis finds no support for the existence of permanent plague reservoirs in medieval Europe.

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Late Pliocene fossiliferous sedimentary record and the environmental context of early Homo from Afar, Ethiopia

Erin DiMaggio et al.
Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sedimentary basins in eastern Africa preserve a record of continental rifting and contain important fossil assemblages for interpreting hominin evolution. However, the record of hominin evolution between 3 and 2.5 million years ago (Ma) is poorly documented in surface outcrops, particularly in Afar, Ethiopia. Here we present the discovery of 2.84-2.58 Ma fossil and hominin-bearing sediments in the Ledi-Geraru research area that have produced the earliest record of the genus Homo. Vertebrate fossils record a faunal turnover indicative of more open and probable arid habitats than those reconstructed earlier in this region, in broad agreement with hypotheses addressing the role of environmental forcing in hominin evolution at this time. Geological analyses constrain depositional and structural models of the Afar and date the LD 350-1 Homo mandible to 2.80-2.75 Ma.

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The process, biotic impact, and global implications of the human colonization of Sahul about 47,000 years ago

J.F. O’Connell & J. Allen
Journal of Archaeological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Comprehensive review of archaeological data shows that Sahul (Pleistocene Australia-New Guinea) was first occupied by humans ca. 47 ka (47,000 years ago); evidence for earlier arrival is weak. Colonizing populations remained low – perhaps two orders of magnitude below those estimated at European contact – for many millennia, and were long restricted to relatively favorable habitats. Though human arrival coincided with changes in native flora and fauna, these were mainly the products of climatic factors, not human interference. The genetic makeup of founding populations and their arrival date are consistent with the Late Dispersal Model of anatomically modern humans beyond SW Asia, beginning ca. 50 ka. Early Dispersal Models (120-70 ka) are not refuted, but draw no support from the Sahul record as currently understood.

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Evidence for recent, population-specific evolution of the human mutation rate

Kelley Harris
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
As humans dispersed out of Africa they adapted to new environmental challenges, including changes in exposure to mutagenic solar radiation. Humans in temperate latitudes have acquired light skin that is relatively transparent to UV light, and some evidence suggests that their DNA damage response pathways have also experienced local adaptation. This raises the possibility that different populations have experienced different selective pressures affecting genome integrity. Here, I present evidence that the rate of a particular mutation type has recently increased in the European population, rising in frequency by 50% during the 40,000–80,000 y since Europeans began diverging from Asians. A comparison of SNPs private to Africa, Asia, and Europe in the 1000 Genomes data reveals that private European variation is enriched for the transition 5′-TCC-3′ → 5′-TTC-3′. Although it is not clear whether UV played a causal role in changing the European mutational spectrum, 5′-TCC-3′ → 5′-TTC-3′ is known to be the most common somatic mutation present in melanoma skin cancers, as well as the mutation most frequently induced in vitro by UV. Regardless of its causality, this change indicates that DNA replication fidelity has not remained stable even since the origin of modern humans and might have changed numerous times during our recent evolutionary history.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Quixotic

More Than Resisting Temptation: Beneficial Habits Mediate the Relationship Between Self-Control and Positive Life Outcomes

Brian Galla & Angela Duckworth
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why does self-control predict such a wide array of positive life outcomes? Conventional wisdom holds that self-control is used to effortfully inhibit maladaptive impulses, yet this view conflicts with emerging evidence that self-control is associated with less inhibition in daily life. We propose that one of the reasons individuals with better self-control use less effortful inhibition, yet make better progress on their goals is that they rely on beneficial habits. Across 6 studies (total N = 2,274), we found support for this hypothesis. In Study 1, habits for eating healthy snacks, exercising, and getting consistent sleep mediated the effect of self-control on both increased automaticity and lower reported effortful inhibition in enacting those behaviors. In Studies 2 and 3, study habits mediated the effect of self-control on reduced motivational interference during a work–leisure conflict and on greater ability to study even under difficult circumstances. In Study 4, homework habits mediated the effect of self-control on classroom engagement and homework completion. Study 5 was a prospective longitudinal study of teenage youth who participated in a 5-day meditation retreat. Better self-control before the retreat predicted stronger meditation habits 3 months after the retreat, and habits mediated the effect of self-control on successfully accomplishing meditation practice goals. Finally, in Study 6, study habits mediated the effect of self-control on homework completion and 2 objectively measured long-term academic outcomes: grade point average and first-year college persistence. Collectively, these results suggest that beneficial habits — perhaps more so than effortful inhibition — are an important factor linking self-control with positive life outcomes.

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Minds “At Attention”: Mindfulness Training Curbs Attentional Lapses in Military Cohorts

Amishi Jha et al.
PLoS ONE, February 2015

Abstract:
We investigated the impact of mindfulness training (MT) on attentional performance lapses associated with task-unrelated thought (i.e., mind wandering). Periods of persistent and intensive demands may compromise attention and increase off-task thinking. Here, we investigated if MT may mitigate these deleterious effects and promote cognitive resilience in military cohorts enduring a high-demand interval of predeployment training. To better understand which aspects of MT programs are most beneficial, three military cohorts were examined. Two of the three groups were provided MT. One group received an 8-hour, 8-week variant of Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT) emphasizing engagement in training exercises (training-focused MT, n = 40), a second group received a didactic-focused variant emphasizing content regarding stress and resilience (didactic-focused MT, n = 40), and the third group served as a no-training control (NTC, n = 24). Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) performance was indexed in all military groups and a no-training civilian group (CIV, n = 45) before (T1) and after (T2) the MT course period. Attentional performance (measured by A’, a sensitivity index) was lower in NTC vs. CIV at T2, suggesting that performance suffers after enduring a high-demand predeployment interval relative to a similar time period of civilian life. Yet, there were significantly fewer performance lapses in the military cohorts receiving MT relative to NTC, with training-focused MT outperforming didactic-focused MT at T2. From T1 to T2, A’ degraded in NTC and didactic-focused MT but remained stable in training-focused MT and CIV. In sum, while protracted periods of high-demand military training may increase attentional performance lapses, practice-focused MT programs akin to training-focused MT may bolster attentional performance more than didactic-focused programs. As such, training-focused MT programs should be further examined in cohorts experiencing protracted high-demand intervals.

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Increasing propensity to mind-wander with transcranial direct current stimulation

Vadim Axelrod et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Humans mind-wander quite intensely. Mind wandering is markedly different from other cognitive behaviors because it is spontaneous, self-generated, and inwardly directed (inner thoughts). However, can such an internal and intimate mental function also be modulated externally by means of brain stimulation? Addressing this question could also help identify the neural correlates of mind wandering in a causal manner, in contrast to the correlational methods used previously (primarily functional MRI). In our study, participants performed a monotonous task while we periodically sampled their thoughts to assess mind wandering. Concurrently, we applied transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). We found that stimulation of the frontal lobes [anode electrode at the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), cathode electrode at the right supraorbital area], but not of the occipital cortex or sham stimulation, increased the propensity to mind-wander. These results demonstrate for the first time, to our knowledge, that mind wandering can be enhanced externally using brain stimulation, and that the frontal lobes play a causal role in mind-wandering behavior. These results also suggest that the executive control network associated with the DLPFC might be an integral part of mind-wandering neural machinery.

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Age Differences in Risk: Perceptions, Intentions and Domains

Emily Bonem, Phoebe Ellsworth & Richard Gonzalez
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although it is commonly assumed that older people are more cautious and risk averse than their younger counterparts, the research on age differences in risk taking is mixed. While some research has found that older adults are less risk seeking, other research has found the opposite or no differences. One explanation is that age differences vary across risk domains. In two studies, we surveyed three adult age groups ranging in age from 18 to 83 on their risk perceptions and intentions of risky behaviors across several domains. Our studies showed that compared with young adults, older adults tend to see more risk in behaviors in health and ethical domains but less risk in behaviors from the social domain. A similar pattern occurred for participants' intentions of engaging in the risky behaviors. Older adults rated risky behaviors from health and ethical domains as less enjoyable and less likely to produce gains than young adults, whereas they rated risky behaviors from the social domain as more enjoyable, less unpleasant, and less likely to produce losses than young adults. These results suggest that age differences in risk preferences may vary across domains and may result from differing motivations.

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DRD4 Long Allele Carriers Show Heightened Attention to High-priority Items Relative to Low-priority Items

Marissa Gorlick et al.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, March 2015, Pages 509-521

Abstract:
Humans with seven or more repeats in exon III of the DRD4 gene (long DRD4 carriers) sometimes demonstrate impaired attention, as seen in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and at other times demonstrate heightened attention, as seen in addictive behavior. Although the clinical effects of DRD4 are the focus of much work, this gene may not necessarily serve as a “risk” gene for attentional deficits, but as a plasticity gene where attention is heightened for priority items in the environment and impaired for minor items. Here we examine the role of DRD4 in two tasks that benefit from selective attention to high-priority information. We examine a category learning task where performance is supported by focusing on features and updating verbal rules. Here, selective attention to the most salient features is associated with good performance. In addition, we examine the Operation Span (OSPAN) task, a working memory capacity task that relies on selective attention to update and maintain items in memory while also performing a secondary task. Long DRD4 carriers show superior performance relative to short DRD4 homozygotes (six or less tandem repeats) in both the category learning and OSPAN tasks. These results suggest that DRD4 may serve as a “plasticity” gene where individuals with the long allele show heightened selective attention to high-priority items in the environment, which can be beneficial in the appropriate context.

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Spontaneous activity in the waiting brain: A marker of impulsive choice in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder?

Chia-Fen Hsu, Nicholas Benikos, Edmund Sonuga-Barke
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, April 2015, Pages 114–122

Background: Spontaneous very low frequency oscillations (VLFO), seen in the resting brain, are attenuated when individuals are working on attention demanding tasks or waiting for rewards ( Hsu et al., 2013). Individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) display excess VLFO both when working on attention tasks. They also have difficulty waiting for rewards. Here we examined the waiting brain signature in ADHD and its association with impulsive choice.

Methods: DC-EEG from 21 children with ADHD and 21 controls (9–15 years) were collected under four conditions: (i) resting; (ii) choosing to wait; (iii) being “forced” to wait; and (iv) working on a reaction time task. A questionnaire measured two components of impulsive choice.

Results: Significant VLFO reductions were observed in controls within anterior brain regions in both working and waiting conditions. Individuals with ADHD showed VLFO attenuation while working but to a reduced level and none at all when waiting. A closer inspection revealed an increase of VLFO activity in temporal regions during waiting. Excess VLFO activity during waiting was associated with parents’ ratings of temporal discounting and delay aversion.

Conclusions: The results highlight the potential role for waiting-related spontaneous neural activity in the pathophysiology of impulsive decision-making of ADHD.

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Group Therapy for Adolescents With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Raquel Vidal et al.
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To determine the efficacy of a group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) on adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who were in pharmacological treatment but still presented persistent symptoms.

Method: We conducted a multicenter, randomized rater-blinded controlled trial between April 2012 and May 2014 on a cohort of 119 adolescents (15-21 years). Participants were randomly assigned to 12 manualized group CBT sessions (n=45) or a waiting list control group (n=44). Primary outcomes were assessed by a blind evaluator (ADHD Rating Scale [ADHD-RS], Clinical Global Impression Scale for Severity [CGI-S], Global Assessment Functioning [GAF]) before and after treatment as well as by self-report and parent informant ratings.

Results: Of the initial 119 participants enrolled, 89 completed treatment. A mixed-effect model analysis revealed that participants who were assigned to the group CBT sessions experienced significantly reduced ADHD symptoms compared to the control group (ADHD-RS Adolescent: −7.46 [95% CI, −9.56 to −5.36]; p<0.001; d=7.5 and ADHD-RS Parents: −9.11 [95% CI, −11.48 to −6.75]; p<0.001; d=8.38. CGI-S Self-Report: −0.68 [95% CI, −0.98 to −0.39]; p<0.001; d=3.75 and CGI-S Clinician: −0.79 [95% CI, −0.95 to −0.62]; p<0.001; d=7.71). Functional impairment decreased significantly in the CBT group according to parents (Weiss Functional Impairment Scale −4.02 [95% CI, −7.76 to −0.29]; p < 0.05; d=2.29) and according to the blinded evaluator (GAF: −7.58 [95% CI, −9.1 to −6.05]; p<0.001; d=7.51).

Conclusion: Group CBT associated with pharmacological treatment is an efficacious intervention for reducing ADHD symptoms and functional impairment in adolescents.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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