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Friday, March 7, 2014

It turns out

Time Regulations as Electoral Policy

Robert Urbatsch
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Having had more or less sleep changes mood and behavior; for example, more sleep associates with greater productivity and a perception that more time is available. This changes the time cost of voting in ways particularly important for the United States, where the general elections are sometimes but not always held 2 days after a 25-hr day, when people typically have had more time to catch up on sleep. Election returns and surveys confirm that circumstances where the election occurs 2 days after a long day produce higher turnout, suggesting a role for factors that affect sleep in political behavior.

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Dead Newspapers and Citizens' Civic Engagement

Lee Shaker
Political Communication, Winter 2014, Pages 131-148

Abstract:
Using data from the 2008 and 2009 Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted by the United States Census Bureau, this article assesses the year-over-year change in the civic engagement of citizens in America's largest metropolitan areas. Of special interest are Denver and Seattle, where the Rocky Mountain News and Seattle Post-Intelligencer closed during the intervening year. The data from the CPS indicate that civic engagement in Seattle and Denver dropped significantly from 2008 to 2009 - a decline that is not consistently replicated over the same time period in other major American cities that did not lose a newspaper. The analysis suggests that this decline may plausibly be attributed to the newspaper closures in Seattle and Denver. This short-term negative effect is concerning, and whether it lasts warrants future attention.

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Gender Bias in the Media? An Examination of Local Television News Coverage of Male and Female House Candidates

Lesley Lavery
Politics & Policy, December 2013, Pages 877-910

Abstract:
Several decades of scholarship suggest that by covering male and female candidates differently, the news media may influence the success of female candidates for higher office. I employ a content analysis to assess gender differences in the local television news coverage of 172 U.S. House candidates in the nation's top 50 media markets in 2002. The results of the study suggest that female candidates for the U.S. House were covered with the same frequency as male candidates, and received equitable issue-based and personal coverage.

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Ignorance Is Bias: The Effect of Latino Losers on Models of Latino Representation

Eric Gonzalez Juenke
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Nearly every aggregate study of minority legislative representation has observed outcomes of elections (officeholders), rather than the supply of minority candidates. Because of this, scholars have left a large amount of important data, the election losers, out of their models of minority representation. The evidence presented in this article demonstrates that voters in the United States cannot choose minority officeholders because there are rarely minority candidates on the ballot. I use state legislative candidate data from Carsey et al. and Klarner et al. to test models of Latino representation that correct for first-stage selection bias. Once candidate self-selection is taken into account, the probability of electing a Latino increases enormously. I then use data from 2010 to make out-of-sample predictions, which clearly favor the conditional model. Thus, our current understanding of Latino representation is significantly biased by ignoring the first stage of an election, a candidate's decision to run.

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Race, Party, and the Consequences of Restricting Early Voting in Florida in the 2012 General Election

Michael Herron & Daniel Smith
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
In mid-2011, the Florida legislature reduced the state's early voting period from fourteen days to eight and eliminated the final Sunday of early voting. We compare observed voting patterns in 2012 with those in the 2008 General Election and find that racial/ethnic minorities, registered Democrats, and those without party affiliation had significant early voting participation drops and that voters who cast ballots on the final Sunday in 2008 were disproportionately unlikely to cast a valid ballot in 2012. Florida's decision to truncate early voting may have diminished participation rates of those already least likely to vote.

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Did Hurricane Sandy Influence the 2012 US Presidential Election?

Joshua Hart
Social Science Research, July 2014, Pages 1-8

Abstract:
Despite drawing on a common pool of data, observers of the 2012 presidential campaign came to different conclusions about whether, how, and to what extent "October surprise" Hurricane Sandy influenced the election. The present study used a mixed correlational and experimental design to assess the relation between, and effect of, the salience of Hurricane Sandy on attitudes and voting intentions regarding President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in a large sample of voting-aged adults. Results suggest that immediately following positive news coverage of Obama's handling of the storm's aftermath, Sandy's salience positively influenced attitudes toward Obama, but that by election day, reminders of the hurricane became a drag instead of a boon for the President. In addition to theoretical implications, this study provides an example of how to combine methodological approaches to help answer questions about the impact of unpredictable, large-scale events as they unfold.

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Deception in Third Party Advertising in the 2012 Presidential Campaign

Kenneth Winneg et al.
American Behavioral Scientist, April 2014, Pages 524-535

Abstract:
In this article, we profile the advertising activities and deception levels of the top 2012 spending independent expenditure groups that focused on the presidential contest. From December 1, 2011, through Election Day, November 6, 2012, independent expenditure groups spent more than $360 million on presidential television advertising, according to Kantar Media CMAG. More than a fifth of the dollars spent by the top groups purchased ads containing at least one claim judged as misleading by independent fact checkers. The proportion of dollars that these groups spent on ads containing at least one deception was much greater during the primaries than afterward. During the primaries, the pro-Romney super PAC "Restore Our Future" led the pack both in dollars spent on ads containing at least one deception and in the proportion of its ads found deceptive by the fact checkers. During the general election, in the post-primary period, the pro-Obama super PAC "Priorities USA Action" devoted the most dollars and greatest proportion of its total dollars to ads in which fact checkers found at least one deceptive claim. During some but not all of the 2012 election year, the percentage of third party ads containing at least one deceptive claim was higher among those groups not required to disclose their donors than it was among those required to do so.

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Thinking about Romney: Frame Building in a Battleground State in the 2012 Presidential Election

Sid Bedingfield & Dien Anshari
Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, March 2014, Pages 78-97

Abstract:
Analyzing Ohio newspaper articles (n = 466), this study investigates the framing of Mitt Romney in a key battleground state during the 2012 presidential election. Campaign officials and political journalists contend that attacks launched by President Obama in late spring defined Romney for the remainder of the campaign. Results suggest partial support for this claim by revealing increased use of negative media frames after the attacks began. Specifically, framing of Romney as a "vulture capitalist" increased significantly during the Obama frame-building effort. Findings offer theoretical insights into the concepts of frame building and "content bias" in media coverage of political campaigns.

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Crises, Reforms, and the Voters' Curses

Carlo Prato & Stephane Wolton
Georgetown University Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
The inability of the political process to produce welfare improving reforms, especially when they are most needed, is both widespread and puzzling. We analyze a model of elections where successful communication of candidates' platforms during electoral campaigns requires effort from both candidates (senders) and a representative voter (receiver). We show that when the demand for change is either relatively low or relatively high, the electoral process loses its effectiveness as a device to screen competent politicians who implement beneficial reforms, and the voter is hurt. There exists a curse of the apathetic voter and a curse of the engaged voter. Against the so called "crisis hypothesis,'' and in line with empirical findings, our model explains why crises are not a good time for policy changes, and can lead to delayed or botched reforms.

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Diversity in Classrooms: The Relationship between Deliberative and Associative Opportunities in School and Later Electoral Engagement

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg & Peter Levine
Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has found that attending racially pluralistic high schools is associated with a reduced likelihood of future electoral and civic engagement. Analysis of a national survey of 18-24 year olds after the 2012 election confirms this finding. However, certain school and family practices and extracurricular activities appear to compensate. Discussion of controversial current issues in social studies classes diminishes the negative association between attending a racially pluralistic school and electoral engagement. School-based discussion is particularly important for young people who attend pluralistic schools and who do not participate in political discussion at home. Opportunities to associate with peers who share common interests through issue-oriented groups predict electoral engagement. Considering that strong arguments can be made in favor of racial diversity in schools, it is important to compensate for the lessened electoral engagement in diverse schools by creating policies and teacher preparation resources that promote high-quality discussion of controversial issues in classrooms, and by encouraging students to participate in extracurricular groups that address political issues.

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Collateral Damage: Involvement and the Effects of Negative Super PAC Advertising

David Lynn Painter
American Behavioral Scientist, April 2014, Pages 510-523

Abstract:
Unprecedented numbers of negative political advertisements aired in battleground markets during the 2012 primaries, the first presidential campaign since the 2010 Citizens United decision. Grounded in theories of involvement, this investigation parses the influence of partisanship and political expression on the affective effects of negative Super PAC ads. Based on a pretest-posttest design with two experimental conditions and 585 participants, the results indicate both enduring and situational involvement exerted significant main and interaction effects on viewers' affect toward the general election candidates and the political parties. Driven by Independents who did not engage in political expression, these Super PAC ads evoked significant net decreases in affect toward Mitt Romney and the Republican Party and net increases toward Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. These results suggest enduring and situational involvement moderate the affective effects of negative Super PAC advertising in primary contests.

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The Relationship Between Campaign Negativity, Gender and Campaign Context

Yanna Krupnikov & Nichole Bauer
Political Behavior, March 2014, Pages 167-188

Abstract:
Are female candidates disproportionately punished for relying on negative campaign ads? While scholars agree that sponsoring negativity works against traditional gender stereotypes, it is less clear how relying on negativity affects voter evaluations of female candidates. In this manuscript we reconsider the relationship between candidate gender and negativity. Relying on theories of conditional stereotype use, we argue that negative ads translate to significantly poorer evaluations for the female candidate when two conditions are met: (1) the female candidate is perceived as the instigator of negativity and (2) she is of a different party than the voter. We test our predictions using an experiment and show that female candidates only face a disproportionate punishment for relying on negativity under our two specific conditions. In contrast, voters are much more forgiving when they believe that a female candidate simply followed her opponent's lead in using negative ads or when negativity is used to promote the voter's party. While our research suggests that - compared to their male counterparts - female candidates do face some added constraints, our findings have broader implications. Not only are voters more or less likely to use gender stereotypes under certain conditions, but these conditions are highly dependent on the campaign context.

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The Effects of Gender-Bending on Candidate Evaluations

Monica Schneider
Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, Winter 2014, Pages 55-77

Abstract:
A candidate's gender affects vote choice, but the manner in which candidates can influence the effects of their gender is not well understood. I address candidates' strategies based on gender stereotypes, that is, how voters are influenced by rhetoric that is either consistent (gender-reinforcing) or inconsistent (gender-bending) with gender stereotypes. These strategic choices are particularly important because of women's underrepresentation in American politics. Employing an experimental design, I found that male and female candidates who used gender-bending rhetoric were able to overturn stereotypes by persuading and priming voters. Male candidates were particularly successful. This was contrary to prior findings that consistency - at least in terms of party - is a superior strategy. These results have important implications for understanding how gender stereotypes evolve throughout a campaign to influence voters.

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Watchful eyes: Implicit observability cues and voting

Costas Panagopoulos
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Explicit social pressure has been shown to be a powerful motivator of prosocial behavior like voting in elections. In this study, I replicate and extend the findings of a randomized field experiment designed to study the impact of more subtle, implicit social pressure treatments on voting. The results of the original experiment, conducted in the October 2011 municipal elections in Key West, Florida, demonstrated that even subtle, implicit observability cues, like a pair of stylized eyes facing subjects, effectively mobilized citizens to vote, by about as much as explicit surveillance cues. The replication study, conducted in Lexington, KY during the November 2011 gubernatorial election, corroborates these findings and suggests eyes effect on average do not likely depend on the gender of eyespots used. Taken together, the two field experiments provide strong support for the notion studies that humans are evolutionarily programmed to respond to certain stimuli and that exposure to images that implicitly signal observability is sufficient to stimulate prosocial behavior.

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Decisions among the Undecided: Implicit Attitudes Predict Future Voting Behavior of Undecided Voters

Kristjen Lundberg & Keith Payne
PLoS ONE, January 2014

Abstract:
Implicit attitudes have been suggested as a key to unlock the hidden preferences of undecided voters. Past research, however, offered mixed support for this hypothesis. The present research used a large nationally representative sample and a longitudinal design to examine the predictive utility of implicit and explicit attitude measures in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. In our analyses, explicit attitudes toward candidates predicted voting better for decided than undecided voters, but implicit candidate attitudes were predictive of voting for both decided and undecided voters. Extending our examination to implicit and explicit racial attitudes, we found the same pattern. Taken together, these results provide convergent evidence that implicit attitudes predict voting about as well for undecided as for decided voters. We also assessed a novel explanation for these effects by evaluating whether implicit attitudes may predict the choices of undecided voters, in part, because they are neglected when people introspect about their confidence. Consistent with this idea, we found that the extremity of explicit but not implicit attitudes was associated with greater confidence. These analyses shed new light on the utility of implicit measures in predicting future behavior among individuals who feel undecided. Considering the prior studies together with this new evidence, the data seem to be consistent that implicit attitudes may be successful in predicting the behavior of undecided voters.

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Ideology-Specific Patterns of Moral Indifference Predict Intentions Not to Vote

Kate Johnson et al.
Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Results from a nationally representative survey (N = 1, 341) provide evidence that self-reported nonvoting behavior is associated with lower endorsement of moral concerns and values (Study 1). Across three studies, five large samples (total N = 27,038), and two presidential elections, we replicate this pattern and show that the explicit intention not to vote is associated with lower endorsement of moral concerns and values (Studies 2-4). This pattern was not found for endorsement of nonmoral values. Separate analyses for liberals, conservatives, libertarians, and Tea Party supporters reveal that the intention not to vote is specifically associated with low endorsement of the moral concerns most associated with one's ideological group: Care and Fairness concerns predicted voting intentions for liberals, while Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity concerns predicted voting intentions for conservatives and members of the Tea Party group FreedomWorks.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Raising expectations

Stress Contagion: Physiological Covariation Between Mothers and Infants

Sara Waters, Tessa West & Wendy Berry Mendes
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Emotions are not simply concepts that live privately in the mind, but rather affective states that emanate from the individual and may influence others. We explored affect contagion in the context of one of the closest dyadic units, mother and infant. We initially separated mothers and infants; randomly assigned the mothers to experience a stressful positive-evaluation task, a stressful negative-evaluation task, or a nonstressful control task; and then reunited the mothers and infants. Three notable findings were obtained: First, infants’ physiological reactivity mirrored mothers’ reactivity engendered by the stress manipulation. Second, infants whose mothers experienced social evaluation showed more avoidance toward strangers compared with infants whose mothers were in the control condition. Third, the negative-evaluation condition, compared with the other conditions, generated greater physiological covariation in the dyads, and this covariation increased over time. These findings suggest that mothers’ stressful experiences are contagious to their infants and that members of close pairs, like mothers and infants, can reciprocally influence each other’s dynamic physiological reactivity.

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The Long-Term Effects of Building Strong Families: A Program for Unmarried Parents

Robert Wood et al.
Journal of Marriage and Family, April 2014, Pages 446–463

Abstract:
The authors present findings from a large-scale, random-assignment evaluation of Building Strong Families (BSF), a program offering group sessions on relationship skills education to low-income, unmarried parents who were expecting or had recently had a baby. Findings based on a 3-year follow-up survey of over 4,000 couples indicate that BSF did not succeed in its central objectives of improving the couple relationship, increasing the quality of coparenting, or enhancing father involvement. In fact, the program had modest negative effects on some of these outcomes. BSF also had little impact on child well-being, with no effect on children's family stability or economic well-being and only a modest positive effect on children's socioemotional development. Impacts varied across the 8 study sites. Although attendance at group sessions was relatively low, there is little evidence of program effects even among couples who attended sessions regularly.

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Housework, Children, and Women’s Wages Across Racial-Ethnic Groups

Heather Parrott
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Motherhood affects women’s household labor and paid employment, but little previous research has explored the extent to which hours of housework may explain per child wage penalties or differences in such penalties across racial-ethnic groups. In this paper, I use longitudinal Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) data to examine how variations in household labor affect the motherhood penalty for White, Black, and Hispanic women. In doing so, I first assess how children affect hours of household labor across these groups and then explore the extent to which this household labor mediates the relationship between children and wages for these women. I find that household labor explains a portion of the motherhood penalty for White women, who experience the most dramatic increases in household labor with additional children. Black and Hispanic women experience slight increases in housework with additional children, but neither children nor housework affects their already low wages.

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Estimating the Effects of Parental Divorce and Death With Fixed Effects Models

Paul Amato & Christopher Anthony
Journal of Marriage and Family, April 2014, Pages 370–386

Abstract:
The authors used child fixed effects models to estimate the effects of parental divorce and death on a variety of outcomes using 2 large national data sets: (a) the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort (kindergarten through the 5th grade) and (b) the National Educational Longitudinal Study (8th grade to the senior year of high school). In both data sets, divorce and death were associated with multiple negative outcomes among children. Although evidence for a causal effect of divorce on children was reasonably strong, effect sizes were small in magnitude. A second analysis revealed a substantial degree of variability in children's outcomes following parental divorce, with some children declining, others improving, and most not changing at all. The estimated effects of divorce appeared to be strongest among children with the highest propensity to experience parental divorce.

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Breastfeeding, Parenting, and Early Cognitive Development

Benjamin Gibbs & Renata Forste
Journal of Pediatrics, March 2014, Pages 487-493

Objective: To explain why breastfeeding is associated with children's cognitive development.

Study design: By using a nationally representative longitudinal survey of early childhood (N = 7500), we examined how breastfeeding practices, the early introduction of solid foods, and putting an infant to bed with a bottle were associated with cognitive development across early childhood. We also explored whether this link can be explained by parenting behaviors and maternal education.

Results: There is a positive relationship between predominant breastfeeding for 3 months or more and child reading skills, but this link is the result of cognitively supportive parenting behaviors and greater levels of education among women who predominantly breastfed. We found little-to-no relationship between infant feeding practices and the cognitive development of children with less-educated mothers. Instead, reading to a child every day and being sensitive to a child's development were significant predictors of math and reading readiness outcomes.

Conclusions: Although breastfeeding has important benefits in other settings, the encouragement of breastfeeding to promote school readiness does not appear to be a key intervention point. Promoting parenting behaviors that improve child cognitive development may be a more effective and direct strategy for practitioners to adopt, especially for disadvantaged children.

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Is Breast Truly Best? Estimating the Effects of Breastfeeding on Long-term Child Health and Wellbeing in the United States Using Sibling Comparisons

Cynthia Colen & David Ramey
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
Breastfeeding rates in the U.S. are socially patterned. Previous research has documented startling racial and socioeconomic disparities in infant feeding practices. However, much of the empirical evidence regarding the effects of breastfeeding on long-term child health and wellbeing does not adequately address the high degree of selection into breastfeeding. To address this important shortcoming, we employ sibling comparisons in conjunction with 25 years of panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) to approximate a natural experiment and more accurately estimate what a particular child’s outcome would be if he/she had been differently fed during infancy. Results from standard multiple regression models suggest that children aged 4 to 14 who were breast- as opposed to bottle-fed did significantly better on 10 of the 11 outcomes studied. Once we restrict analyses to siblings and incorporate within-family fixed effects, estimates of the association between breastfeeding and all but one indicator of child health and wellbeing dramatically decrease and fail to maintain statistical significance. Our results suggest that much of the beneficial long-term effects typically attributed to breastfeeding, per se, may primarily be due to selection pressures into infant feeding practices along key demographic characteristics such as race and socioeconomic status.

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Breastfeeding and Child Disability: A Comparison of Siblings from the United States

George Wehby
NBER Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
Little is known about whether breastfeeding may prevent disabilities throughout childhood. We evaluate the effects of breastfeeding on child disability using data from the National Survey of Family Growth merged to the National Health Interview Survey for a large nationally representative sample of children aged 1 to 18 years from the U.S. including over 3,000 siblings who are discordant on breastfeeding status/duration. We focus on a mother fixed effect model that compares siblings in order to account for family-level unobservable confounders and employ multiple specifications including a dynamic model that accounts for disability status of the prior child. Breastfeeding the child for a longer duration is associated with a lower risk of child disability, by about 0.2 percentage-points per month of breastfeeding. This effect is only observed on the intensive margin among breastfed children, as any breastfeeding has no effect on the extensive margin. We conclude that very short breastfeeding durations are unlikely to have an effect on reducing disability risk.

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Parenthood and Life Satisfaction: Why Don't Children Make People Happy?

Matthias Pollmann-Schult
Journal of Marriage and Family, April 2014, Pages 319–336

Abstract:
Previous research on the association between parenthood and life satisfaction has shown that parents of minor children are not more satisfied with their lives than childless people. This study addressed the question of why children do not enhance their parents' life satisfaction. A major objective of this study was to determine whether and to what extent the costs of raising children act as suppressors of life satisfaction. The empirical analysis applied fixed-effects models and used data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (1994–2010, N = 16,021). The 3 primary findings of this study were that (a) parenthood by itself has substantial and enduring positive effects on life satisfaction; (b) these positive effects are offset by financial and time costs of parenthood; and (c) the impact of these costs varies considerably with family factors, such as the age and number of children, marital status, and the parents' employment arrangements.

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Indiscriminate Behaviors in Previously Institutionalized Young Children

Mary Margaret Gleason et al.
Pediatrics, March 2014, Pages e657-e665

Objective: This study included 54-month-old children with a history of institutional care. Our goal was to: (1) examine differences in indiscriminate social behaviors in children with a history of institutional care compared with home-reared children; (2) test whether foster care reduces indiscriminate social behaviors in a randomized controlled trial; and (3) examine early predictors of indiscriminate behaviors.

Methods: Participants were 58 children with a history of institutional care and 31 never-institutionalized control (NIG) subjects enrolled in a randomized controlled trial of foster care for institutional care, assessed from toddlerhood to 54 months. Indiscriminate social behaviors were measured naturalistically by using the Stranger at the Door procedure.

Results: In the Stranger at the Door procedure, children with a history of institutional care left with a stranger at higher rates than NIG subjects (33% vs 3.5%; P < .001). Children in the care as usual group left more than NIG subjects (41.9% vs 3.6%; P ≤ .001). The differences between the foster care group (24.1%) and the care as usual group and between foster care group and NIG were not significant. In a logistic regression, early disorganized attachment behaviors, baseline developmental quotient, and caregiving quality after randomization contributed to variance at 54 months. In the same analysis using only children with a history of institutional care, only disorganized attachment contributed significantly to 54-month indiscriminate social behaviors (Exp[B] = 1.6 [95% confidence interval: 1.1–2.5]).

Conclusions: Observed socially indiscriminate behaviors at 54 months were associated with prolonged exposure to institutional care. Young children raised in conditions of deprivation who fail to develop organized attachments as toddlers are at increased risk for subsequent indiscriminate behaviors.

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Does Grandparenting Pay Off? The Effect of Child Care on Grandparents' Cognitive Functioning

Bruno Arpino & Valeria Bordone
Journal of Marriage and Family, April 2014, Pages 337–351

Abstract:
The authors examined whether the provision of child care helps older adults maintain better cognitive functioning. Descriptive evidence from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (n = 5,610 women and n = 4,760 men, ages 50–80) shows that intensively engaged grandparents have lower cognitive scores than the others. The authors show that this result is attributable to background characteristics and not to child care per se. Using an instrumental variable approach, they found that providing child care has a positive effect on 1 of the 4 cognitive tests considered: verbal fluency. For the other cognitive tests, no statistically significant effect was found. Given the same level of engagement, they found very similar results for grandmothers and grandfathers. These findings point to the inclusion of grandparenting among other cognitively stimulating social activities and the need to consider such benefits when discussing the implications of this important type of nonmonetary intergenerational transfer.

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The Role of Parenting in Linking Family Socioeconomic Disadvantage to Physical Activity in Adolescence and Young Adulthood

Hedwig Lee
Youth & Society, March 2014, Pages 255-285

Abstract:
Parents play an important role in influencing adolescent health behaviors and parenting practices may be an important pathway through which social disadvantage influences adolescent health behaviors that can persist into adulthood. This analysis uses the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine how parenting practices mediate the association between family socioeconomic disadvantage, measured as low parent education and family welfare/poverty status, and physical activity in adolescence and young adulthood for males and females. Results show that levels of parental control do not differ by family disadvantage. However, disadvantaged parents engage in lower levels of activities and communication with their children compared with nondisadvantaged parents. These behaviors serve to mediate the negative association between disadvantage and physical activity in adolescence, and are associated with physical activity in adulthood. Parenting is an important pathway through which disadvantage influences physical activity in adolescence and the transition to adulthood.

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Adverse Childhood Experiences & Disability in US Adults

Sophia Miryam Schüssler-Fiorenza Rose, Dawei Xie & Margaret Stineman
PM&R, forthcoming

Objective: To assess relationships between adverse childhood experiences and self-reported disabilities in adult life.

Design: Cross-sectional random-digit-dialed state-population-based survey (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)).

Setting: 14 States and the District of Columbia

Participants: Non-institutionalized adults aged ≥ 18 years surveyed in 2009 and/or in 2010 (n = 81,184).

Methods: The BRFSS Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Module asks about abuse (physical, sexual, emotional), family dysfunction (exposures to domestic violence, living with mentally ill, substance abusing, or incarcerated family member(s), and/or parental separation/divorce) occurring before age 18. The ACE Score sums affirmed ACE categories (range 0-8). We controlled for demographic characteristics (age, race, education, income, and marital status) and self-reported physical health conditions (stroke, myocardial infarction, diabetes, coronary heart disease, asthma). Five states asked participants about mental health conditions (anxiety and depression). A subset analysis of participants in these states evaluated the effect of adjusting for these conditions.

Main Outcome Measures: The primary outcome was disability (self-reported activity limitation and/or assistive device use.)

Results: Over half (57%) of participants reported at least one adverse childhood experience category and 23.2% reported disability. The odds ratio (OR [95% confidence interval]) of disability increased in a graded fashion from 1.3 [1.2-1.4] among those experiencing 1 adverse experience to 5.8 [4.6-7.5] among those with 7 to 8 adverse experiences compared to those with no such experiences, adjusting for demographic factors. The relationship between adverse experiences and disability remained strong after adjusting for physical and mental health conditions.

Conclusions: There is a strong graded relationship between childhood exposure to abuse and household dysfunction and self-reported disability in adulthood, even after adjusting for potentially mediating health conditions. Greater clinician, researcher and policymaker awareness of the impact of childhood adversity on disability is crucial to help those affected by childhood adversity lead more functional lives.

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Paid Maternity Leave and Breastfeeding Practice Before and After California's Implementation of the Nation's First Paid Family Leave Program

Rui Huang & Muzhe Yang
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
California was the first state in the United States to implement a paid family leave (PFL) program in 2004. We use data from the Infant Feeding Practices Study to examine the changes in breastfeeding practices in California relative to other states before and after the implementation of PFL. We find an increase of 3–5 percentage points for exclusive breastfeeding and an increase of 10–20 percentage points for breastfeeding at several important markers of early infancy. Our study supports the recommendation of the Surgeon General to establish paid leave policies as a strategy for promoting breastfeeding.

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Does Caregiving Cause Psychological Distress? The Case for Familial and Genetic Vulnerabilities in Female Twins

Peter Vitaliano et al.
Annals of Behavioral Medicine, forthcoming

Background: Informal caregiving can be deleterious to mental health, but research results are inconsistent and may reflect an interaction between caregiving and vulnerability to stress.

Methods: We examined psychological distress among 1,228 female caregiving and non-caregiving twins. By examining monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs discordant for caregiving, we assessed the extent to which distress is directly related to caregiving or confounded by common genes and environmental exposures.

Results: Caregiving was associated with distress as measured by mental health functioning, anxiety, perceived stress, and depression. The overall association between caregiving and distress was confounded by common genes and environment for mental health functioning, anxiety, and depression. Common environment also confounded the association of caregiving and perceived stress.

Conclusions: Vulnerability to distress is a factor in predicting caregivers' psychosocial functioning. Additional research is needed to explicate the mechanisms by which common genes and environment increase the risk of distress among informal caregivers.

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Being a Parent or Having a Parent? The Perceived Employability of Men and Women Who Take Employment Leave

Julie Kmec, Matt Huffman & Andrew Penner
American Behavioral Scientist, March 2014, Pages 453-472

Abstract:
We explore one way family caregiving shapes inequality at work by analyzing the evaluations of men and women who took employment leave to care for a newborn or elderly parents or to recover from a personal injury. Roughly 500 undergraduate students evaluated the employability, qualifications, responsibility, and adherence to leave policies of a fictitious applicant for a professional job. Evaluators rated fathers and male elder caregivers as the most employable. This advantage was not explained by evaluators’ thinking that fathers and male elder caregivers were qualified, responsible, and policy abiding, suggesting the operation of taste discrimination. Likewise, accounting for these factors widens the gap in perceived employability between male and female noncaregivers. We discuss what these findings reveal about the family-work link as well as their methodological and policy implications.

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Does being a mom help or hurt? Workplace incivility as a function of motherhood status

Kathi Miner et al.
Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, January 2014, Pages 60-73

Abstract:
The purpose of the present study was to examine the extent to which motherhood status predicts being a target of workplace incivility and moderates the relationship between incivility and negative outcomes among employed women. Participants included a nationwide sample of law school faculty members (N = 1,234; 48% female, 85% White) who completed measures of workplace incivility, parenting status, job satisfaction, turnover intentions, and depression. Results showed that mothers with 3 children were treated more uncivilly than women with fewer children and that mothering mitigated negative outcomes associated with being the target of incivility. Exploratory analyses examining fatherhood status as a predictor of workplace incivility and moderator of incivility and outcomes showed that fathers reported experiencing more workplace incivility than nonfathers, but being a father did not attenuate the negative outcomes of incivility. In addition, mothers reported more incivility than fathers and childless women reported more incivility than childless men. Childless women were also the most negatively affected by incivility at work. This study advances our understanding of how motherhood status affects women’s experiences at work.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hot models

Agreeing to disagree on climate policy

Geoffrey Heal & Antony Millner
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Disagreements about the value of the utility discount rate — the rate at which our concern for the welfare of future people declines with their distance from us in time — are at the heart of the debate about the appropriate intensity of climate policy. Seemingly small differences in the discount rate yield very different policy prescriptions, and no consensus “correct” value has been identified. We argue that the choice of discount rate is an ethical primitive: there are many different legitimate opinions as to its value, and none should receive a privileged place in economic analysis of climate policy. Rather, we advocate a social choice-based approach in which a diverse set of individual discount rates is aggregated into a “representative” rate. We show that performing this aggregation efficiently leads to a time-dependent discount rate that declines monotonically to the lowest rate in the population. We apply this discounting scheme to calculations of the social cost of carbon recently performed by the US government and show that it provides an attractive compromise between competing ethical positions, and thus provides a possible resolution to the ethical impasse in climate change economics.

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Taming hurricanes with arrays of offshore wind turbines

Mark Jacobson, Cristina Archer & Willett Kempton
Nature Climate Change, March 2014, Pages 195–200

Abstract:
Hurricanes are causing increasing damage to many coastal regions worldwide. Offshore wind turbines can provide substantial clean electricity year-round, but can they also mitigate hurricane damage while avoiding damage to themselves? This study uses an advanced climate–weather computer model that correctly treats the energy extraction of wind turbines to examine this question. It finds that large turbine arrays (300+ GW installed capacity) may diminish peak near-surface hurricane wind speeds by 25–41 m s−1 (56–92 mph) and storm surge by 6–79%. Benefits occur whether turbine arrays are placed immediately upstream of a city or along an expanse of coastline. The reduction in wind speed due to large arrays increases the probability of survival of even present turbine designs. The net cost of turbine arrays (capital plus operation cost less cost reduction from electricity generation and from health, climate, and hurricane damage avoidance) is estimated to be less than today’s fossil fuel electricity generation net cost in these regions and less than the net cost of sea walls used solely to avoid storm surge damage.

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Crime, Weather, and Climate Change

Matthew Ranson
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper estimates the impact of climate change on the prevalence of criminal activity in the United States. The analysis is based on a 30-year panel of monthly crime and weather data for 2,997 U.S. counties. I identify the effect of weather on monthly crime by using a semi-parametric bin estimator and controlling for state-by-month and county-by-year fixed effects. The results show that temperature has a strong positive effect on criminal behavior, with little evidence of lagged impacts. Between 2010 and 2099, climate change will cause an additional 22,000 murders, 180,000 cases of rape, 1.2 million aggravated assaults, 2.3 million simple assaults, 260,000 robberies, 1.3 million burglaries, 2.2 million cases of larceny, and 580,000 cases of vehicle theft in the United States.

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Climate, conflict, and social stability: What does the evidence say?

Solomon Hsiang & Marshall Burke
Climatic Change, March 2014, Pages 39-55

Abstract:
Are violent conflict and socio-political stability associated with changes in climatological variables? We examine 50 rigorous quantitative studies on this question and find consistent support for a causal association between climatological changes and various conflict outcomes, at spatial scales ranging from individual buildings to the entire globe and at temporal scales ranging from an anomalous hour to an anomalous millennium. Multiple mechanisms that could explain this association have been proposed and are sometimes supported by findings, but the literature is currently unable to decisively exclude any proposed pathway. Several mechanisms likely contribute to the outcomes that we observe.

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Coastal flood damage and adaptation costs under 21st century sea-level rise

Jochen Hinkel et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 4 March 2014, Pages 3292–3297

Abstract:
Coastal flood damage and adaptation costs under 21st century sea-level rise are assessed on a global scale taking into account a wide range of uncertainties in continental topography data, population data, protection strategies, socioeconomic development and sea-level rise. Uncertainty in global mean and regional sea level was derived from four different climate models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5, each combined with three land-ice scenarios based on the published range of contributions from ice sheets and glaciers. Without adaptation, 0.2–4.6% of global population is expected to be flooded annually in 2100 under 25–123 cm of global mean sea-level rise, with expected annual losses of 0.3–9.3% of global gross domestic product. Damages of this magnitude are very unlikely to be tolerated by society and adaptation will be widespread. The global costs of protecting the coast with dikes are significant with annual investment and maintenance costs of US$ 12–71 billion in 2100, but much smaller than the global cost of avoided damages even without accounting for indirect costs of damage to regional production supply. Flood damages by the end of this century are much more sensitive to the applied protection strategy than to variations in climate and socioeconomic scenarios as well as in physical data sources (topography and climate model). Our results emphasize the central role of long-term coastal adaptation strategies. These should also take into account that protecting large parts of the developed coast increases the risk of catastrophic consequences in the case of defense failure.

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Climate warming will not decrease winter mortality

Philip Staddon, Hugh Montgomery & Michael Depledge
Nature Climate Change, March 2014, Pages 190–194

Abstract:
It is widely assumed by policymakers and health professionals that the harmful health impacts of anthropogenic climate change will be partially offset by a decline in excess winter deaths (EWDs) in temperate countries, as winters warm. Recent UK government reports state that winter warming will decrease EWDs. Over the past few decades, however, the UK and other temperate countries have simultaneously experienced better housing, improved health care, higher incomes and greater awareness of the risks of cold. The link between winter temperatures and EWDs may therefore no longer be as strong as before. Here we report on the key drivers that underlie year-to-year variations in EWDs. We found that the association of year-to-year variation in EWDs with the number of cold days in winter ( <5 °C), evident until the mid 1970s, has disappeared, leaving only the incidence of influenza-like illnesses to explain any of the year-to-year variation in EWDs in the past decade. Although EWDs evidently do exist, winter cold severity no longer predicts the numbers affected. We conclude that no evidence exists that EWDs in England and Wales will fall if winters warm with climate change. These findings have important implications for climate change health adaptation policies.

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Big-Box Retailers and Urban Carbon Emissions: The Case of Wal-Mart

Matthew Kahn & Nils Kok
NBER Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
The commercial real estate sector is responsible for a large share of a city’s overall carbon footprint. An ongoing trend in this sector has been the entry of big-box stores such as Wal-Mart. Using a unique monthly panel data set for every Wal-Mart store in California from 2006 through 2011, we document three main findings about the environmental performance of big-box retailers. First, Wal-Mart’s stores exhibit very little store-to-store variation in electricity consumption relative to a control group of similar size and vintage retail stores. Second, Wal-Mart’s store’s electricity consumption is lower in higher priced utilities and is independent of the store’s ownership versus leased status. Third, unlike other commercial businesses, Wal-Mart’s newer buildings consume less electricity. Together, these results highlight the key roles that corporate size and centralization of management play in determining a key indicator of a firm’s overall environmental performance.

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Multimodel assessment of water scarcity under climate change

Jacob Schewe et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 4 March 2014, Pages 3245–3250

Abstract:
Water scarcity severely impairs food security and economic prosperity in many countries today. Expected future population changes will, in many countries as well as globally, increase the pressure on available water resources. On the supply side, renewable water resources will be affected by projected changes in precipitation patterns, temperature, and other climate variables. Here we use a large ensemble of global hydrological models (GHMs) forced by five global climate models and the latest greenhouse-gas concentration scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways) to synthesize the current knowledge about climate change impacts on water resources. We show that climate change is likely to exacerbate regional and global water scarcity considerably. In particular, the ensemble average projects that a global warming of 2 °C above present (approximately 2.7 °C above preindustrial) will confront an additional approximate 15% of the global population with a severe decrease in water resources and will increase the number of people living under absolute water scarcity (<500 m3 per capita per year) by another 40% (according to some models, more than 100%) compared with the effect of population growth alone. For some indicators of moderate impacts, the steepest increase is seen between the present day and 2 °C, whereas indicators of very severe impacts increase unabated beyond 2 °C. At the same time, the study highlights large uncertainties associated with these estimates, with both global climate models and GHMs contributing to the spread. GHM uncertainty is particularly dominant in many regions affected by declining water resources, suggesting a high potential for improved water resource projections through hydrological model development.

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Increasing stress on disaster-risk finance due to large floods

Brenden Jongman et al.
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent major flood disasters have shown that single extreme events can affect multiple countries simultaneously, which puts high pressure on trans-national risk reduction and risk transfer mechanisms. So far, little is known about such flood hazard interdependencies across regions and the corresponding joint risks at regional to continental scales. Reliable information on correlated loss probabilities is crucial for developing robust insurance schemes and public adaptation funds, and for enhancing our understanding of climate change impacts. Here we show that extreme discharges are strongly correlated across European river basins. We present probabilistic trends in continental flood risk, and demonstrate that observed extreme flood losses could more than double in frequency by 2050 under future climate change and socio-economic development. We suggest that risk management for these increasing losses is largely feasible, and we demonstrate that risk can be shared by expanding risk transfer financing, reduced by investing in flood protection, or absorbed by enhanced solidarity between countries. We conclude that these measures have vastly different efficiency, equity and acceptability implications, which need to be taken into account in broader consultation, for which our analysis provides a basis.

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On climate variability and civil war in Asia

Gerdis Wischnath & Halvard Buhaug
Climatic Change, February 2014, Pages 709-721

Abstract:
Effects of climate change are frequently claimed to be responsible for widespread civil violence. Yet, scientists remain divided on this issue, and recent studies suggest that conflict risk increases with higher rainfall, loss of rainfall, higher temperatures or none of the above. Lack of scientific consensus is driven by differences in data, methods, and samples, but may also reflect a fragile and inconsistent correlation for the habitual spatiotemporal domain, Sub-Saharan Africa post-1980. This study presents a comprehensive, multi-scale empirical evaluation of climate-conflict connections across Asia, the continent with the highest conflict rate per country. We find little evidence that interannual climate variability and anomalies are linked to historical conflict risk in the simple and general manner proposed by some earlier research. Although a significant parameter coefficient can be obtained under certain specifications, the direction and magnitude of the climate effects are inconsistent and sensitive to research design. Instead, Asian civil wars share central features with violent events elsewhere, proving the main correlates of contemporary armed conflict to be economic and socio-political rather than climatological.

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Harvesting renewable energy from Earth’s mid-infrared emissions

Steven Byrnes, Romain Blanchard & Federico Capasso
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is possible to harvest energy from Earth's thermal infrared emission into outer space. We calculate the thermodynamic limit for the amount of power available, and as a case study, we plot how this limit varies daily and seasonally in a location in Oklahoma. We discuss two possible ways to make such an emissive energy harvester (EEH): A thermal EEH (analogous to solar thermal power generation) and an optoelectronic EEH (analogous to photovoltaic power generation). For the latter, we propose using an infrared-frequency rectifying antenna, and we discuss its operating principles, efficiency limits, system design considerations, and possible technological implementations.

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Heat stress increases long-term human migration in rural Pakistan

V. Mueller, C. Gray & K. Kosec
Nature Climate Change, March 2014, Pages 182–185

Abstract:
Human migration attributable to climate events has recently received significant attention from the academic and policy communities. Quantitative evidence on the relationship between individual, permanent migration and natural disasters is limited. A 21-year longitudinal survey conducted in rural Pakistan (1991–2012) provides a unique opportunity to understand the relationship between weather and long-term migration. We link individual-level information from this survey to satellite-derived measures of climate variability and control for potential confounders using a multivariate approach. We find that flooding — a climate shock associated with large relief efforts — has modest to insignificant impacts on migration. Heat stress, however — which has attracted relatively little relief — consistently increases the long-term migration of men, driven by a negative effect on farm and non-farm income. Addressing weather-related displacement will require policies that both enhance resilience to climate shocks and lower barriers to welfare-enhancing population movements.

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Simulations of Hurricane Katrina (2005) under sea level and climate conditions for 1900

Jennifer Irish et al.
Climatic Change, February 2014, Pages 635-649

Abstract:
Global warming may result in substantial sea level rise and more intense hurricanes over the next century, leading to more severe coastal flooding. Here, observed climate and sea level trends over the last century (c. 1900s to 2000s) are used to provide insight regarding future coastal inundation trends. The actual impacts of Hurricane Katrina (2005) in New Orleans are compared with the impacts of a similar hypothetical hurricane occurring c. 1900. Estimated regional sea level rise since 1900 of 0.75 m, which contains a dominant land subsidence contribution (0.57 m), serves as a ‘prototype’ for future climate-change induced sea level rise in other regions. Landform conditions c. 1900 were estimated by changing frictional resistance based on expected additional wetlands at lower sea levels. Surge simulations suggest that flood elevations would have been 15 to 60 % lower c. 1900 than the conditions observed in 2005. This drastic change suggests that significantly more flood damage occurred in 2005 than would have occurred if sea level and climate conditions had been like those c. 1900. We further show that, in New Orleans, sea level rise dominates surge-induced flooding changes, not only by increasing mean sea level, but also by leading to decreased wetland area. Together, these effects enable larger surges. Projecting forward, future global sea level changes of the magnitude examined here are expected to lead to increased flooding in coastal regions, even if the storm climate is unchanged. Such flooding increases in densely populated areas would presumably lead to more widespread destruction.

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Temperature, rainfall and economic growth in Africa

Matteo Lanzafame
Empirical Economics, February 2014, Pages 1-18

Abstract:
Following a recent line of research, this paper investigates the aggregated effects of temperature and rainfall on economic growth in Africa. Our econometric approach is based on a reduced-form model and takes account explicitly of parameter heterogeneity and cross section dependence, relying on ARDL modelling and panel estimators with multifactor structures. We find clear supportive evidence of short- and long-run relations between temperature and per-capita GDP growth, while the role played by rainfall appears to be less important and the evidence on its statistical significance is less clear-cut. Very similar results are reported when the analysis is carried out by focusing solely on Sub-Saharan African countries or considering GDP growth per worker. This evidence is in sharp contrast to the results obtained via standard MG estimation and this confirms that, by not controlling for cross section dependence, traditional panel estimators are likely to provide misleading inference. The empirical results suggest that, far from adapting quickly to weather shocks, African economies appear to be significantly damaged by them. In the absence of corrective measures, the current trends in climate change may impose a progressively heavier burden on African countries.

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Long-Term Effect of Climate Change on Health: Evidence from Heat Waves in Mexico

Jorge Agüero
University of Connecticut Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
This paper uses year-to-year variation in temperature to estimate the long-term effects of climate change on health outcomes in Mexico. Combining temperature data at the district level and three rounds of nationally representative household surveys, an individual’s health as an adult is matched with the history of heat waves from birth to adulthood. A flexible econometric model is used to identify critical health periods with respect to temperature. It is shown that exposure to higher temperatures early in life has negative consequences on adult height. Most importantly, the effects are concentrated at the times where children experience growth spurts: infancy and adolescence. The robustness of these findings is confirmed when using health outcomes derived from accidents, which are uncorrelated with early exposure to high temperatures.

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Optimal Taxes on Fossil Fuel in General Equilibrium

Mikhail Golosov et al.
Econometrica, January 2014, Pages 41–88

Abstract:
We analyze a dynamic stochastic general-equilibrium (DSGE) model with an externality — through climate change — from using fossil energy. Our central result is a simple formula for the marginal externality damage of emissions (or, equivalently, for the optimal carbon tax). This formula, which holds under quite plausible assumptions, reveals that the damage is proportional to current GDP, with the proportion depending only on three factors: (i) discounting, (ii) the expected damage elasticity (how many percent of the output flow is lost from an extra unit of carbon in the atmosphere), and (iii) the structure of carbon depreciation in the atmosphere. Thus, the stochastic values of future output, consumption, and the atmospheric CO2 concentration, as well as the paths of technology (whether endogenous or exogenous) and population, and so on, all disappear from the formula. We find that the optimal tax should be a bit higher than the median, or most well-known, estimates in the literature. We also formulate a parsimonious yet comprehensive and easily solved model allowing us to compute the optimal and market paths for the use of different sources of energy and the corresponding climate change. We find coal — rather than oil — to be the main threat to economic welfare, largely due to its abundance. We also find that the costs of inaction are particularly sensitive to the assumptions regarding the substitutability of different energy sources and technological progress.

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A quantitative evaluation of the public response to climate engineering

Malcolm Wright, Damon Teagle & Pamela Feetham
Nature Climate Change, February 2014, Pages 106–110

Abstract:
Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase, with CO2 passing 400 parts per million in May 2013. To avoid severe climate change and the attendant economic and social dislocation, existing energy efficiency and emissions control initiatives may need support from some form of climate engineering. As climate engineering will be controversial, there is a pressing need to inform the public and understand their concerns before policy decisions are taken. So far, engagement has been exploratory, small-scale or technique-specific. We depart from past research to draw on the associative methods used by corporations to evaluate brands. A systematic, quantitative and comparative approach for evaluating public reaction to climate engineering is developed. Its application reveals that the overall public evaluation of climate engineering is negative. Where there are positive associations they favour carbon dioxide removal (CDR) over solar radiation management (SRM) techniques. Therefore, as SRM techniques become more widely known they are more likely to elicit negative reactions. Two climate engineering techniques, enhanced weathering and cloud brightening, have indistinct concept images and so are less likely to draw public attention than other CDR or SRM techniques.

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Rapid and extensive warming following cessation of solar radiation management

Kelly McCusker et al.
Environmental Research Letters, February 2014

Abstract:
Solar radiation management (SRM) has been proposed as a means to alleviate the climate impacts of ongoing anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, its efficacy depends on its indefinite maintenance, without interruption from a variety of possible sources, such as technological failure or global cooperation breakdown. Here, we consider the scenario in which SRM — via stratospheric aerosol injection — is terminated abruptly following an implementation period during which anthropogenic GHG emissions have continued. We show that upon cessation of SRM, an abrupt, spatially broad, and sustained warming over land occurs that is well outside 20th century climate variability bounds. Global mean precipitation also increases rapidly following cessation, however spatial patterns are less coherent than temperature, with almost half of land areas experiencing drying trends. We further show that the rate of warming — of critical importance for ecological and human systems — is principally controlled by background GHG levels. Thus, a risk of abrupt and dangerous warming is inherent to the large-scale implementation of SRM, and can be diminished only through concurrent strong reductions in anthropogenic GHG emissions.

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Potential climate engineering effectiveness and side effects during a high carbon dioxide-emission scenario

David Keller, Ellias Feng & Andreas Oschlies
Nature Communications, February 2014

Abstract:
The realization that mitigation efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions have, until now, been relatively ineffective has led to an increasing interest in climate engineering as a possible means of preventing the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change. While many studies have addressed the potential effectiveness of individual methods there have been few attempts to compare them. Here we use an Earth system model to compare the effectiveness and side effects of afforestation, artificial ocean upwelling, ocean iron fertilization, ocean alkalinization and solar radiation management during a high carbon dioxide-emission scenario. We find that even when applied continuously and at scales as large as currently deemed possible, all methods are, individually, either relatively ineffective with limited (<8%) warming reductions, or they have potentially severe side effects and cannot be stopped without causing rapid climate change. Our simulations suggest that the potential for these types of climate engineering to make up for failed mitigation may be very limited.

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Detection limits of albedo changes induced by climate engineering

Dian Seidel et al.
Nature Climate Change, February 2014, Pages 93–98

Abstract:
A key question surrounding proposals for climate engineering by increasing Earth's reflection of sunlight is the feasibility of detecting engineered albedo increases from short-duration experiments or prolonged implementation of solar-radiation management. We show that satellite observations permit detection of large increases, but interannual variability overwhelms the maximum conceivable albedo increases for some schemes. Detection of an abrupt global average albedo increase <0.002 (comparable to a ~0.7 W m−2 reduction in radiative forcing) would be unlikely within a year, given a five-year prior record. A three-month experiment in the equatorial zone (5° N–5° S), a potential target for stratospheric aerosol injection, would need to cause an ~0.03 albedo increase, three times larger than that due to the Mount Pinatubo eruption, to be detected. Detection limits for three-month experiments in 1° (latitude and longitude) regions of the subtropical Pacific, possible targets for cloud brightening, are ~0.2, which is larger than might be expected from some model simulations.

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Increased temperature variation poses a greater risk to species than climate warming

David Vasseur et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 March 2014

Abstract:
Increases in the frequency, severity and duration of temperature extremes are anticipated in the near future. Although recent work suggests that changes in temperature variation will have disproportionately greater effects on species than changes to the mean, much of climate change research in ecology has focused on the impacts of mean temperature change. Here, we couple fine-grained climate projections (2050–2059) to thermal performance data from 38 ectothermic invertebrate species and contrast projections with those of a simple model. We show that projections based on mean temperature change alone differ substantially from those incorporating changes to the variation, and to the mean and variation in concert. Although most species show increases in performance at greater mean temperatures, the effect of mean and variance change together yields a range of responses, with temperate species at greatest risk of performance declines. Our work highlights the importance of using fine-grained temporal data to incorporate the full extent of temperature variation when assessing and projecting performance.

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Green means stop: Veto players and their impact on climate-change policy outputs

Nathan Madden
Environmental Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Political institutions can hinder the adoption of certain policies. Veto-players theory suggests that more political institutions in a state will lead to lower rates of policy adoption. Extending this argument to climate-change policy, I contend that more political institutions will lead to lower overall climate-policy adoption rates, lower adoption rates for cost-concentrated climate-policy tools, and lower adoption rates for significant climate policies. Using new data on climate policies and legislative passage rates in 23 OECD states between 1996 and 2010, I find empirical evidence demonstrating that the number of political institutions intrinsic to a state negatively affects climate-policy adoption.

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Potential greenhouse gas benefits of transatlantic wood pellet trade

Puneet Dwivedi et al.
Environmental Research Letters, February 2014

Abstract:
Power utility companies in the United Kingdom are using imported wood pellets from the southern region of the United States for electricity generation to meet the legally binding mandate of sourcing 15% of the nation's total energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. This study ascertains relative savings in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for a unit of electricity generated using imported wood pellet in the United Kingdom under 930 different scenarios: three woody feedstocks (logging residues, pulpwood, and logging residues and pulpwood combined), two forest management choices (intensive and non-intensive), 31 plantation rotation ages (year 10 to year 40 in steps of 1 year), and five power plant capacities (20–100 MW in steps of 20 MW). Relative savings in GHG emissions with respect to a unit of electricity derived from fossil fuels in the United Kingdom range between 50% and 68% depending upon the capacity of power plant and rotation age. Relative savings in GHG emissions increase with higher power plant capacity. GHG emissions related to wood pellet production and transatlantic shipment of wood pellets typically contribute about 48% and 31% of total GHG emissions, respectively. Overall, use of imported wood pellets for electricity generation could help in reducing the United Kingdom's GHG emissions. We suggest that future research be directed to evaluation of the impacts of additional forest management practices, changing climate, and soil carbon on the overall savings in GHG emissions related to transatlantic wood pellet trade.

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Economic development and the carbon intensity of human well-being

Andrew Jorgenson
Nature Climate Change, March 2014, Pages 186–189

Abstract:
Humans use fossil fuels in various activities tied to economic development, leading to increases in carbon emissions, and economic development is widely recognized as a pathway to improving human well-being. Strategies for effective sustainability efforts require reducing the carbon intensity of human well-being (CIWB): the level of anthropogenic carbon emissions per unit of human well-being. Here I examine how the effect of economic development on CIWB has changed since 1970 for 106 countries in multiple regional samples throughout the world. I find that early in this time period, increased development led to a reduction in CIWB for nations in Africa, but in recent decades the relationship has changed, becoming less sustainable. For nations in Asia and South and Central America, I find that development increases CIWB, and increasingly so throughout the 40-year period of study. The effect of development on CIWB for nations in the combined regions of North America, Europe and Oceania has remained positive, relatively larger than in other regions, and stable through time. Although future economic growth will probably improve human well-being throughout the world, this research suggests that it will also cost an increasing amount of carbon emissions.

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Urban adaptation can roll back warming of emerging megapolitan regions

Matei Georgescu et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 February 2014, Pages 2909–2914

Abstract:
Modeling results incorporating several distinct urban expansion futures for the United States in 2100 show that, in the absence of any adaptive urban design, megapolitan expansion, alone and separate from greenhouse gas-induced forcing, can be expected to raise near-surface temperatures 1–2 °C not just at the scale of individual cities but over large regional swaths of the country. This warming is a significant fraction of the 21st century greenhouse gas-induced climate change simulated by global climate models. Using a suite of regional climate simulations, we assessed the efficacy of commonly proposed urban adaptation strategies, such as green, cool roof, and hybrid approaches, to ameliorate the warming. Our results quantify how judicious choices in urban planning and design cannot only counteract the climatological impacts of the urban expansion itself but also, can, in fact, even offset a significant percentage of future greenhouse warming over large scales. Our results also reveal tradeoffs among different adaptation options for some regions, showing the need for geographically appropriate strategies rather than one size fits all solutions.

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Climate change effects on human health: Projections of temperature-related mortality for the UK during the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s

Shakoor Hajat et al.
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: The most direct way in which climate change is expected to affect public health relates to changes in mortality rates associated with exposure to ambient temperature. Many countries worldwide experience annual heat-related and cold-related deaths associated with current weather patterns. Future changes in climate may alter such risks. Estimates of the likely future health impacts of such changes are needed to inform public health policy on climate change in the UK and elsewhere.

Methods: Time-series regression analysis was used to characterise current temperature-mortality relationships by region and age group. These were then applied to the local climate and population projections to estimate temperature-related deaths for the UK by the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s. Greater variability in future temperatures as well as changes in mean levels was modelled.

Results: A significantly raised risk of heat-related and cold-related mortality was observed in all regions. The elderly were most at risk. In the absence of any adaptation of the population, heat-related deaths would be expected to rise by around 257% by the 2050s from a current annual baseline of around 2000 deaths, and cold-related mortality would decline by 2% from a baseline of around 41 000 deaths. The cold burden remained higher than the heat burden in all periods. The increased number of future temperature-related deaths was partly driven by projected population growth and ageing.

Conclusions: Health protection from hot weather will become increasingly necessary, and measures to reduce cold impacts will also remain important in the UK. The demographic changes expected this century mean that the health protection of the elderly will be vital.

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Impacts of climate change on marine ecosystem production in societies dependent on fisheries

M. Barange et al.
Nature Climate Change, March 2014, Pages 211–216

Abstract:
Growing human populations and changing dietary preferences are increasing global demands for fish, adding pressure to concerns over fisheries sustainability. Here we develop and link models of physical, biological and human responses to climate change in 67 marine national exclusive economic zones, which yield approximately 60% of global fish catches, to project climate change yield impacts in countries with different dependencies on marine fisheries. Predicted changes in fish production indicate increased productivity at high latitudes and decreased productivity at low/mid latitudes, with considerable regional variations. With few exceptions, increases and decreases in fish production potential by 2050 are estimated to be <10% (mean +3.4%) from present yields. Among the nations showing a high dependency on fisheries, climate change is predicted to increase productive potential in West Africa and decrease it in South and Southeast Asia. Despite projected human population increases and assuming that per capita fish consumption rates will be maintained, ongoing technological development in the aquaculture industry suggests that projected global fish demands in 2050 could be met, thus challenging existing predictions of inevitable shortfalls in fish supply by the mid-twenty-first century. This conclusion, however, is contingent on successful implementation of strategies for sustainable harvesting and effective distribution of wild fish products from nations and regions with a surplus to those with a deficit. Changes in management effectiveness and trade practices will remain the main influence on realized gains or losses in global fish production.

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Radiative Forcing Caused by Rocket Engine Emissions

Martin Ross & Patti Sheaffer
Earth's Future, forthcoming

Abstract:
Space transportation plays an important and growing role in Earth's economic system. Rockets uniquely emit gases and particles directly into the middle and upper atmosphere where exhaust from hundreds of launches accumulates, changing atmospheric radiation patterns. The instantaneous radiative forcing (RF) caused by major rocket engine emissions CO2, H2O, black carbon (BC), and Al2O3 (alumina) are estimated. Rocket CO2 and H2O emissions do not produce significant RF. BC and alumina emissions, under some scenarios, have the potential to produce significant RF. Absorption of solar flux by BC is likely the main RF source from rocket launches. In a new finding, alumina particles, previously thought to cool the Earth by scattering solar flux back to space, absorbs outgoing terrestrial longwave radiation, resulting in net positive RF. With the caveat that BC and alumina microphysics are poorly constrained, we find that the present day RF from rocket launches equals 16 - 8 mWm-2. The relative contributions from BC, alumina, and H2O are 70%, 28%, and 2% respectively. The pace of rocket launches is predicted to grow and space transport RF could become comparable to global aviation RF in coming decades. Improved understanding of rocket emission RF requires more sophisticated modeling and improved data describing particle microphysics.

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Recent intensification of wind-driven circulation in the Pacific and the ongoing warming hiatus

Matthew England et al.
Nature Climate Change, March 2014, Pages 222–227

Abstract:
Despite ongoing increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, the Earth’s global average surface air temperature has remained more or less steady since 2001. A variety of mechanisms have been proposed to account for this slowdown in surface warming. A key component of the global hiatus that has been identified is cool eastern Pacific sea surface temperature, but it is unclear how the ocean has remained relatively cool there in spite of ongoing increases in radiative forcing. Here we show that a pronounced strengthening in Pacific trade winds over the past two decades — unprecedented in observations/reanalysis data and not captured by climate models — is sufficient to account for the cooling of the tropical Pacific and a substantial slowdown in surface warming through increased subsurface ocean heat uptake. The extra uptake has come about through increased subduction in the Pacific shallow overturning cells, enhancing heat convergence in the equatorial thermocline. At the same time, the accelerated trade winds have increased equatorial upwelling in the central and eastern Pacific, lowering sea surface temperature there, which drives further cooling in other regions. The net effect of these anomalous winds is a cooling in the 2012 global average surface air temperature of 0.1–0.2 °C, which can account for much of the hiatus in surface warming observed since 2001. This hiatus could persist for much of the present decade if the trade wind trends continue, however rapid warming is expected to resume once the anomalous wind trends abate.

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Observational and Model based Trends and Projections of Extreme Precipitation over the Contiguous United States

Emily Janssen et al.
Earth's Future, forthcoming

Abstract:
Historical and projected trends in extreme precipitation events are examined in CMIP5 models and observations, over the contiguous United States (CONUS), using several approaches. This study updates earlier studies that have used the Extreme Precipitation Index (EPI) to assess observations and goes further by using the EPI to evaluate available climate model simulations. An increasing trend over the CONUS was found in the EPI, with large differences among seven sub-regions of the U.S. Median of CMIP5 simulations also finds an increasing trend in the EPI, but with a smaller magnitude than the observations. Model spread is large and in most cases bigger than the model signal itself. Statistically significant (95th confidence level) increasing trends in the observation-based EPI occur over the Midwest and Eastern regions, while most decreasing trends occur over Western regions. Some models give negative correlation coefficients relative to observations. However, some ensemble members, for most models, show correlation coefficients greater than 0.5. Projections of extreme precipitation event frequency, for Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios 4.5 and 8.5, show increasing trends over the CONUS. Both scenarios give a steady increase throughout the period but the RCP 4.5 signal is smaller in magnitude. Overall, the RCP scenarios show an increase across all regions with the exception of some variability between decades in some regions for RCP 4.5. For the CONUS model spread is smaller than the projected signal. Regional analyses show overall agreement among models of a future increase in extreme precipitation event frequency over most regions.

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Seasonal Climate Variability and Change in the Pacific Northwest of the United States

John Abatzoglou, David Rupp & Philip Mote
Journal of Climate, March 2014, Pages 2125–2142

Abstract:
Observed changes in climate of the U.S. Pacific Northwest since the early twentieth century were examined using four different datasets. Annual mean temperature increased by approximately 0.6°–0.8°C from 1901 to 2012, with corroborating indicators including a lengthened freeze-free season, increased temperature of the coldest night of the year, and increased growing-season potential evapotranspiration. Seasonal temperature trends over shorter time scales (<50 yr) were variable. Despite increased warming rates in most seasons over the last half century, nonsignificant cooling was observed during spring from 1980 to 2012. Observations show a long-term increase in spring precipitation; however, decreased summer and autumn precipitation and increased potential evapotranspiration have resulted in larger climatic water deficits over the past four decades. A bootstrapped multiple linear regression model was used to better resolve the temporal heterogeneity of seasonal temperature and precipitation trends and to apportion trends to internal climate variability, solar variability, volcanic aerosols, and anthropogenic forcing. The El Niño–Southern Oscillation and the Pacific–North American pattern were the primary modulators of seasonal temperature trends on multidecadal time scales: solar and volcanic forcing were nonsignificant predictors and contributed weakly to observed trends. Anthropogenic forcing was a significant predictor of, and the leading contributor to, long-term warming; natural factors alone fail to explain the observed warming. Conversely, poor model skill for seasonal precipitation suggests that other factors need to be considered to understand the sources of seasonal precipitation trends.

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Volcanic contribution to decadal changes in tropospheric temperature

Benjamin Santer et al.
Nature Geoscience, March 2014, Pages 185–189

Abstract:
Despite continued growth in atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases, global mean surface and tropospheric temperatures have shown slower warming since 1998 than previously. Possible explanations for the slow-down include internal climate variability, external cooling influences and observational errors. Several recent modelling studies have examined the contribution of early twenty-first-century volcanic eruptions to the muted surface warming. Here we present a detailed analysis of the impact of recent volcanic forcing on tropospheric temperature, based on observations as well as climate model simulations. We identify statistically significant correlations between observations of stratospheric aerosol optical depth and satellite-based estimates of both tropospheric temperature and short-wave fluxes at the top of the atmosphere. We show that climate model simulations without the effects of early twenty-first-century volcanic eruptions overestimate the tropospheric warming observed since 1998. In two simulations with more realistic volcanic influences following the 1991 Pinatubo eruption, differences between simulated and observed tropospheric temperature trends over the period 1998 to 2012 are up to 15% smaller, with large uncertainties in the magnitude of the effect. To reduce these uncertainties, better observations of eruption-specific properties of volcanic aerosols are needed, as well as improved representation of these eruption-specific properties in climate model simulations.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Just

A Lack of Material Resources Causes Harsher Moral Judgments

Marko Pitesa & Stefan Thau
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the research presented here, we tested the idea that a lack of material resources (e.g., low income) causes people to make harsher moral judgments because a lack of material resources is associated with a lower ability to cope with the effects of others' harmful behavior. Consistent with this idea, results from a large cross-cultural survey (Study 1) showed that both a chronic (due to low income) and a situational (due to inflation) lack of material resources were associated with harsher moral judgments. The effect of inflation was stronger for low-income individuals, whom inflation renders relatively more vulnerable. In a follow-up experiment (Study 2), we manipulated whether participants perceived themselves as lacking material resources by employing different anchors on the scale they used to report their income. The manipulation led participants in the material-resources-lacking condition to make harsher judgments of harmful, but not of nonharmful, transgressions, and this effect was explained by a sense of vulnerability. Alternative explanations were excluded. These results demonstrate a functional and contextually situated nature of moral psychology.

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Representative Evidence on Lying Costs

Johannes Abeler, Anke Becker & Armin Falk
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
A central assumption in economics is that people misreport their private information if this is to their material benefit. Several recent models depart from this assumption and posit that some people do not lie or at least do not lie maximally. These models invoke many different underlying motives including intrinsic lying costs, altruism, efficiency concerns, or conditional cooperation. To provide an empirically-validated microfoundation for these models, it is crucial to understand the relevance of the different potential motives. We measure the extent of lying costs among a representative sample of the German population by calling them at home. In our setup, participants have a clear monetary incentive to misreport, misreporting cannot be detected, reputational concerns are negligible and altruism, efficiency concerns or conditional cooperation cannot play a role. Yet, we find that aggregate reporting behavior is close to the expected truthful distribution suggesting that lying costs are large and widespread. Further lab experiments show that this result is not driven by the mode of communication.

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When friends promote ends: Feeling socially connected increases utilitarian choices in moral dilemmas

Brian Lucas & Robert Livingston
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, July 2014, Pages 1-4

Abstract:
The current research explores the relationship between feeling socially connected and decision-making in high-conflict moral dilemmas. High-conflict moral dilemmas pit utilitarian outcomes, where one person is directly harmed to save five others, against people's social intuitions and values, e.g. "Do not harm others." Drawing on sociality motivation research, we predict that feeling socially connected increases utilitarian choices in high-conflict moral dilemmas. We support this prediction in three studies. Our studies manipulated social connection, independent of the dilemma context, using live social interactions (Studies 1-2) and a recall task (Study 3). Across studies, those induced to feel social connection made more utilitarian choices in a high-conflict moral dilemma.

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"Just think about it"? Cognitive complexity and moral choice

Celia Moore & Ann Tenbrunsel
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, March 2014, Pages 138-149

Abstract:
In this paper, we question the simplicity of the common prescription that more thinking leads to better moral choices. In three studies, we discover that the relationship between how complexly one reasons before making a decision with moral consequences is related to the outcome of that decision in a curvilinear way. Using two different moral decisions and both measuring and manipulating the level of cognitive complexity employed by the decision maker, we find that decisions made after reasoning with low and high levels of cognitive complexity are less moral than those made after reasoning at moderate levels of complexity. These results suggest that the best moral decisions are those that have been reasoned through "just enough". Further, and at least as important, they illustrate the need to expand our study of ethical behavior beyond simple effects, and to gain a deeper understanding of the thought processes of individuals faced with moral choices.

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Emotion Regulation as the Foundation of Political Attitudes: Does Reappraisal Decrease Support for Conservative Policies?

Jooa Julia Lee, Yunkyu Sohn & James Fowler
PLoS ONE, December 2013

Abstract:
Cognitive scientists, behavior geneticists, and political scientists have identified several ways in which emotions influence political attitudes, and psychologists have shown that emotion regulation can have an important causal effect on physiology, cognition, and subjective experience. However, no work to date explores the possibility that emotion regulation may shape political ideology and attitudes toward policies. Here, we conduct four studies that investigate the role of a particular emotion regulation strategy - reappraisal in particular. Two observational studies show that individual differences in emotion regulation styles predict variation in political orientations and support for conservative policies. In the third study, we experimentally induce disgust as the target emotion to be regulated and show that use of reappraisal reduces the experience of disgust, thereby decreasing moral concerns associated with conservatism. In the final experimental study, we show that use of reappraisal successfully attenuates the relationship between trait-level disgust sensitivity and support for conservative policies. Our findings provide the first evidence of a critical link between emotion regulation and political attitudes.

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Is it wrong to eat animals?

Loren Lomasky
Social Philosophy and Policy, January 2013, Pages 177-200

Abstract:
Eating meat appeals, but the cost is measured in millions of slaughtered animals. This has convinced many that vegetarianism is morally superior to a carnivorous diet. Increasingly, those who take pleasure in consuming animals find it a guilty pleasure. Are they correct? That depends on the magnitude of harm done to food animals but also on what sort of a good, if any, meat eating affords people. This essay aims to estimate both variables and concludes that standard arguments for moral vegetarianism are significantly misplaced. That is because the contribution of meat eating to lives of excellence is underestimated and overall harms to animals consequent on practices of meat eating are overestimated. The answer to the question posed in the title is, therefore, "No."

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Out, Damned Spot: Can the "Macbeth Effect" Be Replicated?

Brian Earp et al.
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, January/February 2014, Pages 91-98

Abstract:
Zhong and Liljenquist (2006) reported evidence of a "Macbeth Effect" in social psychology: a threat to people's moral purity leads them to seek, literally, to cleanse themselves. In an attempt to build upon these findings, we conducted a series of direct replications of Study 2 from Z&L's seminal report. We used Z&L's original materials and methods, investigated samples that were more representative of the general population, investigated samples from different countries and cultures, and substantially increased the power of our statistical tests. Despite multiple good-faith efforts, however, we were unable to detect a "Macbeth Effect" in any of our experiments. We discuss these findings in the context of recent concerns about replicability in the field of experimental social psychology.

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Group reactions to dishonesty

Steffen Keck
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, May 2014, Pages 1-10

Abstract:
Groups and individuals were compared for their willingness to incur financial costs in order to punish dishonest behavior by others. Study 1 demonstrated that dishonesty was punished more often by groups than by individuals and that groups' higher willingness to punish dishonesty was mediated by stronger negative affect. Study 2 provided evidence that the increase in negative affect in groups was driven by exposure to other group members' negative feelings and opinions during group discussions. Overall, the results suggest that being part of a group increases negative emotions toward dishonest others and leads to a greater willingness to engage in costly punishment.

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What Money Can't Buy: The Psychology of Financial Overcompensation

Tessa Haesevoets et al.
Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
When a financial damage has been inflicted, perpetrators can satisfy victims' outcome related concerns by providing a financial compensation. Few studies have investigated, however, whether overcompensation (i.e., compensation that is greater than the damage suffered) is more beneficial than equal compensation (i.e., compensation that covers the exact damage suffered). The results of four studies show that overcompensation offers no effects in addition to the impact of equal compensation, and that it even provokes negative outcomes. More specifically, overcompensation is attributed to occur because of a lower level of moral orientation on the part of the perpetrator (Study 2 through 4), leads to less favorable perceptions of the perpetrator (Study 2 and 4), and lower levels of trust in the perpetrator (Study 3 and 4) than equal compensation. No significant differences between overcompensation and equal compensation appeared for relationship preservation and cooperation (Study 4). These results show that while overcompensation may rebuild cooperation (albeit not more effectively than equal compensation), it does so at a monetary and relational cost that limits its effectiveness as a tool to promote true interpersonal trust. The present studies thus show that a large financial compensation does not provide any surplus value in terms of psychological outcomes and relationship continuation, even though such compensation best satisfies a victim's economic needs.

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Smug Alert! Exploring self-licensing behaviour in a cheating game

Sophie Clot, Gilles Grolleau & Lisette Ibanez
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
We test experimentally a prediction of the 'moral credit model', in which committing a virtuous act creates moral credits that can license immoral behaviour in a succeeding decision. We use a basic cheating experiment that was either preceded by a virtuous deed or not in a developing country context. We found that people who previously achieved a good deed cheat more. Gender and origin are also significant explicative variables for cheating.

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A matter of perspective: Why past moral behavior can sometimes encourage and other times discourage future moral striving

Moritz Susewind & Erik Hoelzl
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper, we investigate the role of different perspectives people take on their past moral and nonmoral behavior. Across two experiments, we show that when people focus on progress toward personal goals, past moral behavior leads to less future moral striving compared to past nonmoral behavior. However, when people focus on commitment toward personal goals, past moral behavior tends to lead to more future moral striving compared to past nonmoral behavior. Our results integrate seemingly contradictive empirical evidence from past research, relying on the overarching theoretical framework of goal regulation theory.

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Honesty in managerial reporting: How competition affects the benefits and costs of lying

Philipp Schreck
Critical Perspectives on Accounting, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although research on honesty in managerial reporting has provided important evidence for the idea that competition can restrict the relevance of honesty preferences, why exactly competition has this effect remains largely unexplored. This paper suggests that different aspects of competition independently affect honesty in managerial reporting: economic competition affects the economic benefits of lying, while rivalry diminishes the moral costs of lying. Based on recent findings from social psychology and experimental economics on a gender gap in competitiveness, the study further hypothesizes that the effects of competition on honesty differ across gender. A laboratory experiment was conducted, in which participants had to report cost information in a participative budgeting context under different competitive and non-competitive conditions. Results indicate that an individual's willingness to report honestly decreases significantly when rivalry is introduced, even if the economic benefits of lying remain constant. In contrast, economic competition only diminished the salience of honesty preferences of male participants in the experiment. In conclusion, corporate managers who wish to take advantage of the positive effects of competition, such as increased motivation and efficiency in capital allocation processes, should not only focus on its economic effects but also be aware of its potential negative impact.

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The Good and Bad of Being Fair: Effects of Procedural and Interpersonal Justice Behaviors on Regulatory Resources

Russell Johnson, Klodiana Lanaj & Christopher Barnes
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The justice literature has paid considerable attention to the beneficial effects of fair behaviors for recipients of such behaviors. It is possible, however, that exhibiting fair behaviors may come at a cost for actors. In this article, we integrate ego depletion theory with organizational justice research in order to examine the consequences of justice behaviors for actors. We used an experience-sampling method in a sample of managerial employees to examine the relations of performing procedural justice and interpersonal justice behaviors with subsequent changes in actors' regulatory resources. Our results indicate that procedural justice behaviors are draining, whereas interpersonal justice behaviors are replenishing for actors. Depletion, in turn, adversely affected the performance of citizenship behavior, and depletion mediated relations of justice behavior with citizenship. Furthermore, 2 traits that impact self-regulatory skills - extraversion and neuroticism - moderated the replenishing effects of engaging in interpersonal justice behaviors. We conclude by discussing implications and avenues for future research.

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Cheating more for less: Upward social comparisons motivate the poorly compensated to cheat

Leslie John, George Loewenstein & Scott Rick
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, March 2014, Pages 101-109

Abstract:
Intuitively, people should cheat more when cheating is more lucrative, but we find that the effect of performance-based pay-rates on dishonesty depends on how readily people can compare their pay-rate to that of others. In Experiment 1, participants were paid 5 cents or 25 cents per self-reported point in a trivia task, and half were aware that they could have received the alternative pay-rate. Lower pay-rates increased cheating when the prospect of a higher pay-rate was salient. Experiment 2 illustrates that this effect is driven by the ease with which poorly compensated participants can compare their pay to that of others who earn a higher pay-rate. Our results suggest that low pay-rates are, in and of themselves, unlikely to promote dishonesty. Instead, it is the salience of upward social comparisons that encourages the poorly compensated to cheat.

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Heralding the Authoritarian? Orientation Toward Authority in Early Childhood

Michal Reifen Tagar et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the research reported here, we examined whether individual differences in authoritarianism have expressions in early childhood. We expected that young children would be more responsive to cues of deviance and status to the extent that their parents endorsed authoritarian values. Using a sample of 43 preschoolers and their parents, we found support for both expectations. Children of parents high in authoritarianism trusted adults who adhered to convention (vs. adults who did not) more than did children of parents low in authoritarianism. Furthermore, compared with children of parents low in authoritarianism, children of parents high in authoritarianism gave greater weight to a status-based "adult = reliable" heuristic in trusting an ambiguously conventional adult. Findings were consistent using two different measures of parents' authoritarian values. These findings demonstrate that children's trust-related behaviors vary reliably with their parents' orientations toward authority and convention, and suggest that individual differences in authoritarianism express themselves well before early adulthood.

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Confabulating reasons for behaving bad: The psychological consequences of unconsciously activated behaviour that violates one's standards

Marieke Adriaanse et al.
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Numerous studies have been conducted to demonstrate that behaviours are frequently activated unconsciously. The present studies investigate the downstream psychological consequences of such unconscious behaviour activation, building on work on the explanatory vacuum and post-priming misattribution. It was hypothesized that unconsciously activated behaviours trigger a negative affective response if the behaviour violates a personal standard and that this negative affect subsequently motivates people to confabulate a reason for the behaviour. Results provided evidence for this mediated moderation model. Study 1 showed that participants who were primed to act less prosocially indeed reported increased levels of negative affect and, as a result, were inclined to confabulate a reason for their behaviour. Study 2 replicated these findings in the domain of eating and provided evidence for the moderating role of personal standards as well as the entire mediated moderation model. These findings have relevant theoretical implications as they add to the modest number of studies that demonstrate that the effect of unconscious priming may extend well beyond performing the primed behaviour itself to influence subsequent affect and attribution processes.

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Seeing is believing: Communication modality, anger, and support for action on behalf of out-groups

Demis Glasford
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, November 2013, Pages 2223-2230

Abstract:
Relatively few studies have investigated the impact of communication modality (e.g., video vs. print) on political action intentions, as well as what motivates external observers to act when both the victim and perpetrator of injustice are out-group members. The present research experimentally investigated the influence of communication modality of an injustice (text vs. video), where all parties were out-group members, on observers' sympathy, anger, social cohesion to victims, and political action intentions. Participants reported greater intentions to politically act in the video condition, relative to print, which was explained by increased anger in the video condition. In addition, both sympathy and anger were positively related to social cohesion to the out-group, but only anger was associated with political action intentions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bank on it

Elections, political competition and bank failure

Wai-Man Liu & Phong Ngo
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We exploit exogenous variation in the scheduling of gubernatorial elections to study the timing of bank failure in the US. Using hazard analysis, we show that bank failure is about 45% less likely in the year leading up to an election. Political control (i.e., lack of competition) can explain all of this average election year fall in the hazard rate. In particular, we show that the reduction in hazard rate doubles in magnitude for banks operating in states where the governor has simultaneous control of the upper and lower houses of the state legislature (i.e., complete control) heading into an election.

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When Real Estate is the Only Game in Town

Hyun-Soo Choi et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Using data on household portfolios and mortgage originations, we find that households residing in a city with few publicly traded firms headquartered there are more likely to own an investment home nearby. Households in these areas are also less likely to own stocks. This only-game-in-town effect is more pronounced for households living in high credit quality areas, who can access financing to afford a second home. This effect also becomes pronounced for households living in low credit quality areas after 2002 when securitization made it easier for these households to buy second homes. Cities with few local stocks have in equilibrium higher price-to-rent ratios, making it more attractive to rent, and lower (primary residence) homeownership rates.

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Limited and Varying Consumer Attention: Evidence from Shocks to the Salience of Bank Overdraft Fees

Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explore dynamics of limited attention in the $35 billion market for checking overdrafts, using survey content as shocks to the salience of overdraft fees. Conditional on selection into surveys, individuals who face overdraft-related questions are less likely to incur a fee in the survey month. Taking multiple overdraft surveys builds a "stock" of attention that reduces overdrafts for up to two years. The effects are significant among consumers with lower education and financial literacy. Individuals avoid overdrafts by making fewer low-balance debit transactions and cancelling automatic recurring withdrawals. The results raise new questions about consumer financial protection policy.

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Is home maintenance contagious? Evidence from Boston

Erin Graves
Federal Reserve Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
In disadvantaged neighborhoods, the condition of the housing stock can vary from block to block. On one block, homes appear well kept and in good condition, while on another, many homes show signs of physical distress. Since the blocks within the same neighborhood are often similar in terms of home values, what accounts for this pattern? The physical condition of the parcels could correspond to the level of home ownership, so that blocks with higher levels of home ownership are better maintained. It could also be that home maintenance is contagious and neighbors' efforts toward exterior home maintenance influence other neighbors. The potential impact of a housing investment that improves the appearance of a housing parcel is also unknown. When a blighted property is improved, this investment could encourage neighbors to maintain their own parcels better. That is, a contagion effect could operate whereby one neighbor's efforts to improve the physical appearance of his or her housing parcel influence other neighbors to take similar action. We investigated the potential for home-maintenance contagion by tracking the physical condition of residential parcels before and after an abandoned abutting home underwent significant renovation. We found no evidence of the contagion effect, and the renovation of an abandoned home had no measurable effect on the abutting neighbors' level of maintenance of their parcels in the short run. Of the variables investigated, only home ownership was significantly associated with better home maintenance.

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Misinformed Speculators and Mispricing in the Housing Market

Alex Chinco & Christopher Mayer
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
This paper uses transactions-level deeds records to examine how out-of-town second house buyers contributed to mispricing in the housing market. We document that out-of-town second house buyers behaved like misinformed speculators and drove up both house price and implied-to-actual rent ratio (IAR) appreciation rates in cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Miami in the mid 2000s. Our analysis has 3 parts. First, we give evidence that out-of-town second house buyers behaved like misinformed speculators. Compared to local second house buyers, out- of-town second house buyers had worse exit timing (i.e., were likely misinformed) and were also less able to consume the dividend from their purchase (i.e., were likely speculators). Second, we show that increases in out-of-town second house buyer demand predict increases in future house price appreciation rates and IAR appreciation rates. A 10%pt increase in the fraction of sales made to out-of-town second house buyers is associated with a 6%pt increase in house price appreciation rates and a 9%pt increase in IAR appreciation rates over the course of the next year in that city. Third, we address the issue of reverse causality using a novel econometric strategy. The key insight is that an increase in the fundamental value of owning a second house in Phoenix is a common shock to the investment opportunity set of all potential second house buyers. If changes to fundamentals were driving both price dynamics as well as out-of-town second house buyer demand, we would expect to see large jumps in house price and IAR appreciation rates preceded by increases in out-of-town second house buyer demand from across the country. The data do not display this symmetric response, and are thus inconsistent with reverse causality. We conclude by discussing both the economic magnitudes of out-of-town second house buyer flows and the broader applicability of our econometric approach.

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Has market discipline on banks improved after the Dodd-Frank Act?

Bhanu Balasubramnian & Ken Cyree
Journal of Banking & Finance, April 2014, Pages 155-166

Abstract:
We investigate whether or not market discipline on banking firms changed after the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (DFA) of 2010. If market discipline is improved, we should see a lower discount for size on yield spreads, particularly for banks identified as too-big-to-fail (TBTF) or systemically important (SIFI). Using secondary market subordinated debt transactions we find that the size discount is reduced by 47 percent and TBTF discount is reduced by 94 percent after the DFA. The DFA has been effective in reducing, but not in eliminating the size and TBTF discounts on yield spreads. Market discipline of banks appears to have improved further after the rating criteria changes by Moody's.

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Mortgage Concentration, Foreclosures and House Prices

Giovanni Favara & Mariassunta Giannetti
Federal Reserve Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Previous work has shown that mortgage foreclosures generate a negative externality on nearby house prices. In this paper, we conjecture that lenders with a larger share of a neighborhood's outstanding mortgages on their balance sheets internalize this externality and are thus more inclined to renegotiate defaulting loans. We provide evidence supporting this conjecture using zip code level data on house prices and foreclosures during the 2007-2009 US housing market crisis. We find that zip codes with larger concentration of outstanding mortgages experienced fewer foreclosures and smaller declines in house prices. These findings are not driven by prior local economic conditions, mortgage securitization or ex-ante lenders characteristics, and hold within geographical areas exposed to common economic shocks, such as MSAs or counties. We also find that the concentration of outstanding mortgages matters more in ZIP codes of non-judicial states where foreclosure procedures are less costly.

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Bailouts and Systemic Insurance

Giovanni Dell'Ariccia & Lev Ratnovski
IMF Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
We revisit the link between bailouts and bank risk taking. The expectation of government support to failing banks creates moral hazard - increases bank risk taking. However, when a bank's success depends on both its effort and the overall stability of the banking system, a government's commitment to shield banks from contagion may increase their incentives to invest prudently and so reduce bank risk taking. This systemic insurance effect will be relatively more important when bailout rents are low and the risk of contagion (upon a bank failure) is high. The optimal policy may then be not to try to avoid bailouts, but to make them "effective": associated with lower rents.

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National Banking's Role in U.S. Industrialization, 1850-1900

Matthew Jaremski
Journal of Economic History, March 2014, Pages 109-140

Abstract:
The passage of the National Banking Acts stabilized the existing financial system and encouraged the entry of 729 banks between 1863 and 1866. These new banks concentrated in the area that would eventually become the Manufacturing Belt. Using a new bank census, the article shows that these changes to the financial system were a major determinant of the geographic distribution of manufacturing and the nation's sudden capital deepening. The entry not only resulted in more manufacturing capital and output at the county level, but also more steam engines and value added at the establishment level.

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The Effectiveness of Mandatory Mortgage Counseling: Can One Dissuade Borrowers from Choosing Risky Mortgages?

Sumit Agarwal et al.
NBER Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
We explore the effects of mandatory third-party review of mortgage contracts on consumer choice - including the terms and demand for mortgage credit. Our study is based on a legislative pilot carried out by the State of Illinois in a selected set of zip codes in 2006. Mortgage applicants with low FICO scores were required to attend loan reviews by financial counselors. Applicants with high FICO scores had to attend counseling only if they chose "risky mortgages." We find that low-FICO applicants for whom counselor review was mandatory did not materially change their contract choice. Conversely, applicants who could avoid counseling by choosing less risky mortgages did so. Ironically, the ultimate goals of the legislation (e.g., better loan terms for borrowers) were only achieved among the population that was not counseled. We also find significant adjustments in lender behavior as a result of the counseling program.

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Do Declines in Bank Health Affect Borrowers' Voluntary Disclosures? Evidence from International Propagation Of Banking Shocks

Alvis Lo
Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
I examine whether declines in banks' financial health affect their borrowers' disclosures. Prior studies indicate that, in relationship lending, banks and borrowers rely on private communication, rather than public disclosures, to resolve information asymmetries. When banking relationships are threatened, borrowers must turn to new funding sources, inducing them to reconsider their disclosure policies. This paper predicts that borrowers whose banking relationships are threatened by declining bank health change their public disclosures of forward-looking information. Using the emerging-market financial crises in the late 1990s as shocks to the health of certain U.S. banks, I find that affected banks' U.S. borrowers increase both the quantity and informativeness of their management forecasts following these shocks compared to borrowers of unaffected banks. The results are similar using conference calls or the length of the MD&A as alternative proxies for voluntary disclosure. Overall, these results provide new insights into the impact of availability of relationship lending on firms' disclosure choices.

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Agency problems, accounting slack, and banks' response to proposed reporting of loan fair values

Leslie Hodder & Patrick Hopkins
Accounting, Organizations and Society, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the determinants of bank representatives' responses to the United States Financial Accounting Standard Board's 2010 Exposure Draft that proposes fair value measurement for most financial instruments. Over 85% of the 2971 comment letters were received from bank representatives, with most bank-affiliated letters addressing - and opposing - one issue: fair value measurement of loans. The Exposure Draft proposes that companies report both fair value and amortized cost measures for loans; thus, the proposal should result in increased levels of loan-related information and improved financial reporting transparency. We investigate three reasons for bank representatives' resistance. First, fair value measurement should result in less accounting slack than the current incurred-loss model for loan impairments; therefore, we propose that representatives from banks that historically utilized that slack will resist fair value measurement for loans. Second, we propose that agency problems are an important motivating factor because bank representatives reaping more private benefits from their franchises have less incentive to support increases in financial reporting transparency. Third, we test whether the most common reasons for opposition included in the comment letters are associated with negative letter writing. Our analyses support the first two determinants of bank representatives' resistance to the Exposure Draft. Specifically, accounting slack and lower demand for accounting transparency are strongly associated with resistance to the standard. However, we find that stated reasons for resistance are not associated with letter writing. Specifically, representatives at firms with difficult to value loans and firms that mostly hold loans to maturity are no more likely to resist the standard than others. The narrow scope of bank representatives' comments and our empirical findings suggest that bankers' responses to the Exposure Draft may be more driven by concerns over reduced availability of accounting slack and accompanying de facto regulatory forbearance than by the conceptual arguments they offer. Our results have implications for standard setters, who must navigate special interests as they attempt to promulgate high quality accounting standards, and for users of financial statements who must consider how political forces shape generally accepted accounting principles.

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Banking Deregulation, Consolidation, and Corporate Cash Holdings: U.S. Evidence

Bill Francis, Iftekhar Hasan & Haizhi Wang
Journal of Banking & Finance, April 2014, Pages 45-56

Abstract:
This paper tests the effects of banking deregulation on the cash policies of nonbanking firms in the United States. We document a significant and negative relation between intrastate banking deregulation and corporate cash holdings. We show that the negative relation is driven by financially constrained firms, especially by constrained firms with low hedging needs. Further, we construct indexes measuring the intensity of bank consolidation in local markets. We find that the intensity of in-market bank mergers is negatively related to corporate cash holdings. However, in-market bank mergers in highly concentrated markets tend to be positively related to corporate cash holdings.

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Changes in bank lending standards and the macroeconomy

William Bassett et al.
Journal of Monetary Economics, March 2014, Pages 23-40

Abstract:
Identifying macroeconomic effects of credit shocks is difficult because many of the same factors that influence the supply of loans also affect the demand for credit. Using bank-level responses to the Federal Reserve's Loan Officer Opinion Survey, we construct a new credit supply indicator: changes in lending standards, adjusted for the macroeconomic and bank-specific factors that also affect loan demand. Tightening shocks to this credit supply indicator lead to a substantial decline in output and the capacity of businesses and households to borrow from banks, as well as to a widening of credit spreads and an easing of monetary policy.

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Protecting Mortgage Borrowers through Risk Awareness: Evidence from Variations in State Laws

Michael Collins
Journal of Consumer Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the wake of historic levels of mortgage defaults, regulators have debated how to regulate certain high-risk loans because of the risks of foreclosure involved. This study examines state laws that required loan applicants to receive information about the risks of foreclosure before they could sign certain mortgage contracts. Skeptics suggest that disclosures are largely ignored by consumers, yet controlling for other factors this study shows that loan applicants in states with enhanced warnings about foreclosures were more likely to reject high-cost refinance mortgage loan offers from a lender. Enhanced disclosures with features such as risk warnings, signatures, and referrals to counseling are being implemented as part of Dodd-Frank consumer finance reforms. This study suggests these strategies may be useful to balance consumer protection and access to high-risk credit.

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The Great Entanglement: The contagious capacity of the international banking network just before the 2008 crisis

Rodney Garratt, Lavan Mahadeva & Katsiaryna Svirydzenka
Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Systemic risk among the network of international banking groups arises when financial stress threatens to crisscross many national boundaries and expose imperfect international coordination. To assess this risk, we consider three decades of data on the cross-border interbank market. We use Rosvall and Bergstrom's (PNAS, 2008, 1118-1123) information theoretic map equation to partition banking groups from 21 countries into modules that reveal the contagious capacity of the network. We show that in the late 1980s four important financial centers formed one large super cluster that was highly contagious in terms of transmission of stress within its ranks, but less contagious on a global scale. But the expansion leading to the 2008 crisis left more transmitting hubs sharing the same total influence as a few large modules had previously. We show that this greater entanglement meant the network was more broadly contagious, and not that risk was more shared. Thus, our analysis contributes to our understanding as to why defaults in US sub-prime mortgages spread quickly through the global financial system.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Close encounters

Matchmaking Promotes Happiness

Lalin Anik & Michael Norton
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Four studies document and explore the psychology underlying people's proclivity to connect people to each other - to play "matchmaker." First, Study 1 shows that chronic matchmaking is associated with higher well-being. Studies 2 and 3 show that matching others on how well they will get along increases happiness and is more intrinsically rewarding than other tasks (e.g., deciding which people would not get along). Study 4 investigates a moderator of the rewarding nature of matchmaking: the type of connection. We show that bridging ties are relatively more attractive than bonding ties: The more unlikely the match, the more rewarding it is. Taken together, these studies provide correlational and causal evidence for the role of matchmaking in promoting happiness.

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Predicting Individual Behavior with Social Networks

Sharad Goel & Daniel Goldstein
Marketing Science, January-February 2014, Pages 82-93

Abstract:
With the availability of social network data, it has become possible to relate the behavior of individuals to that of their acquaintances on a large scale. Although the similarity of connected individuals is well established, it is unclear whether behavioral predictions based on social data are more accurate than those arising from current marketing practices. We employ a communications network of over 100 million people to forecast highly diverse behaviors, from patronizing an off-line department store to responding to advertising to joining a recreational league. Across all domains, we find that social data are informative in identifying individuals who are most likely to undertake various actions, and moreover, such data improve on both demographic and behavioral models. There are, however, limits to the utility of social data. In particular, when rich transactional data were available, social data did little to improve prediction.

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Natural gaze signaling in a social context

David Wu, Walter Bischof & Alan Kingstone
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evolutionary theory, augmented by a vast literature on gaze cuing and gaze following, suggests that the unique high-contrast morphology of the human eye evolved for rapid and silent communication between conspecifics. While this theory rests on the fundamental idea that humans use their eyes to signal information, empirical studies have focused exclusively on the effects of gaze cues on human receivers. In a series of three experiments we examined the other side of the communication dynamic by investigating if, and when, humans signal gaze information to other humans in a natural, but controlled, situation involving food consumption. First, we established that there is a normative behavior to look away when someone begins to bite. Second, we found that participants were significantly more likely to look down at their food before taking a bite when they were eating with another person versus alone. Lastly, we found that in pairs where a social connection has been established, when one person looks down signaling that a bite is forthcoming, the other person tends to look away. These results demonstrate that natural gaze signaling occurs in the context of eating, and it can, dependent on the relationship between the pair, trigger a gaze response that is different from gaze following. Our study shows that natural social attention between individuals is a two-way street, where each person can signal and read gaze information, consistent with the idea that human eye morphology evolved to facilitate communication between conspecifics.

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Is there a "dark intelligence"? Emotional intelligence is used by dark personalities to emotionally manipulate others

Ursa Nagler et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Potential "darker sides" of socio-emotional intelligence (SEI) have been repeatedly noted. We examine whether SEI is associated with emotional manipulation of others when used by dark personalities (Dark Triad: narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy). In N = 594 participants, narcissism was positively, Machiavellianism negatively, and psychopathy positively and negatively associated with SEI. Moreover, narcissism and psychopathy moderated links between facets of emotional intelligence and emotional manipulation. Findings are discussed in context of a "dark intelligence" used for malicious intents.

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Interoceptive sensitivity predicts sensitivity to the emotions of others

Yuri Terasawa et al.
Cognition & Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Some theories of emotion emphasise a close relationship between interoception and subjective experiences of emotion. In this study, we used facial expressions to examine whether interoceptive sensibility modulated emotional experience in a social context. Interoceptive sensibility was measured using the heartbeat detection task. To estimate individual emotional sensitivity, we made morphed photos that ranged between a neutral and an emotional facial expression (i.e., anger, sadness, disgust and happy). Recognition rates of particular emotions from these photos were calculated and considered as emotional sensitivity thresholds. Our results indicate that participants with accurate interoceptive awareness are sensitive to the emotions of others, especially for expressions of sadness and happy. We also found that false responses to sad faces were closely related with an individual's degree of social anxiety. These results suggest that interoceptive awareness modulates the intensity of the subjective experience of emotion and affects individual traits related to emotion processing.

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It's the Attention That Counts: Interpersonal Attention Fosters Intimacy and Social Exchange

Yohsuke Ohtsubo et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Human friendship poses an evolutionary puzzle, since people behave more generously toward their friends than the tit-for-tat strategy stipulates. A possible explanation is that people selectively behave in a generous manner toward their true friends, but not toward fair-weather friends. Social psychological studies have suggested that people use a partner's attentiveness toward them as a cue to distinguish these two types of friends. Accordingly, it was hypothesized that people would increase their intimacy with a partner who was attentive to them. This hypothesis was tested by disentangling the frequent confounding between a partner's attention and the benefits provided by the attentive partner in two scenario experiments (Studies 1a and 1b) and three laboratory experiments (Studies 2a to 2c). In Study 1, a partner's attentiveness was manipulated independently of the benefit provided by the partner. In Study 2, the partner's attention was experimentally dissociated from any potential benefit. These studies consistently showed that the participants increased their intimacy with a partner when they received attention from the partner. This result implies that models of the evolution of friendship must incorporate information exchange regarding the valuation of the relationship, as well as the exchange of fitness-related costs and benefits.

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Do you think I'm as kind as I do? The relation of adolescent narcissism with self- and peer-perceptions of prosocial and aggressive behavior

Rebecca Kauten & Christopher Barry
Personality and Individual Differences, April-May 2014, Pages 69-73

Abstract:
The association between narcissism and aggression has been empirically supported in adults and adolescents, but it is unclear whether narcissism might also be related to prosocial behavior. The present study investigated this issue using self- and peer-informants. Participants were 183 adolescents ages 16-19 (159 males, 24 females; 64.5% Caucasian). Of these participants, 126 (104 males, 22 females) also had peer-reported data available. Self-reported pathological narcissism was positively correlated with self-reports of both prosocial behavior and aggression, but it was not associated with peer nominations of either type of behavior. These findings indicate that adolescents with high levels of narcissism may attempt to bolster their social status by reporting engagement in both prosocial behavior and aggression. However, it appears that such individuals are ineffective at being perceived as prosocial by peers.

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Pride attenuates nonconscious mimicry

Leah Dickens & David DeSteno
Emotion, February 2014, Pages 7-11

Abstract:
Positive affect has been associated with increased nonconscious mimicry - an association that is quite logical given ties between positive mood and desires for social bonding. Yet positive emotions vary with respect to function, leading to the prediction that not all positive states might similarly increase mimicry. Pride, due to its association with higher status and self-focus, could be expected to attenuate affiliative behaviors such as mimicry. Participants in the present study were induced to experience one of three affective states (neutral, pride, general positivity), after which they interacted with a confederate who expressed a specific, neutral nonverbal behavior (i.e., foot shaking). Supporting past research, participants experiencing general positive affect evidenced greater mimicry as compared to participants in a neutral mood. In accord with predictions, participants experiencing pride mimicked the confederate's behavior significantly less than did those experiencing general positive affect or a neutral state. Regression analyses also confirmed that increasing intensities of pride predicted decreasing mimicry.

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Engagement in Vocational Activities Promotes Behavioral Development for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Julie Lounds Taylor, Leann Smith & Marsha Mailick
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined the bidirectional relations over time between behavioral functioning (autism symptoms, maladaptive behaviors, activities of daily living) and vocational/educational activities of adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Participants were 153 adults with ASD (M age = 30.2 years) who were part of a larger longitudinal study. Data were collected at two time points separated by 5.5 years. Cross-lag models were used, which accounted for stability over time while testing both directions of cross-lagged effects. Results suggested that greater vocational independence and engagement was related to subsequent reductions in autism symptoms and maladaptive behaviors, and improvements in activities of daily living. Relations between earlier behavioral variables (symptoms, behaviors, and activities of daily living) and later vocational independence were not statistically significant.

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OT promotes closer interpersonal distance among highly empathic individuals

Anat Perry, David Mankuta & Simone Shamay-Tsoory
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
The space between people, or interpersonal distance, creates and defines the dynamics of social interactions and is a salient cue signaling responsiveness and feeling comfortable. This distance is implicit yet clearly felt, especially if someone stands closer or farther away than expected. Increasing evidence suggests that Oxytocin (OT) serves as a social hormone in humans, and that one of its roles may be to alter the perceptual salience of social cues. Considering that empathic ability may shape the way individuals process social stimuli, we predicted that OT will differentially affect preferred interpersonal distance depending on individual differences in empathy. Participants took part in two interpersonal distance experiments: In the first, they had to stop a (computer visualized) protagonist when feeling most comfortable; in the second they were asked to choose the room in which they would later discuss intimate topics with another. Both experiments revealed an interaction between the effect of OT and empathy level. Among highly empathic individuals, OT promoted the choice of closer interpersonal distances. Yet OT had an opposite effect on individuals with low empathic traits. We conclude that the enhancement of social cues following OT administration may have opposite effects on individuals with different empathic abilities.

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When friendship formation goes down the toilet: Design features of shared accommodation influence interpersonal bonds and well-being

Matthew Easterbrook & Vivian Vignoles
British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite its omnipresence, the influence of the built environment on human psychology is not well understood. In a five-wave longitudinal study, we investigated whether physical design features within shared student accommodation predicted the frequency of coincidental meetings between new flatmates, and whether these meetings predicted the strength of their interpersonal bonds and psychological well-being. Multilevel latent growth modelling on responses from 462 new university residents supported our hypotheses: Respondents living in flats with design features that encouraged the use of communal areas - a shared common area and an absence of ensuite toilets - reported unintentionally meeting their flatmates more frequently within their flats. This in turn predicted the initial strength of their interpersonal bonds with their flatmates, which in turn positively predicted their well-being. These effects were maintained throughout the 10-week study. Our findings provide an empirical basis for the development of shared housing designed to foster positive relationships and well-being among residents.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Bachelor's degree

Shrouded in the Veil of Darkness: Machiavellians but not narcissists and psychopaths profit from darker weather in courtship

John Rauthmann, Marlit Kappes & Johannes Lanzinger
Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Abstract:
We proposed in the "Veil of Darkness" hypothesis that dark personalities (narcissists, Machiavellians, psychopaths) profit from conditions of less illumination where they can better manipulate others. As an initial test of this hypothesis in the domain of mating, we predicted that male dark personalities should be more successful in their courtship during dark/cloudy rather than bright/sunny weather. In a large naturalistic field-study, 59 men romantically advanced 1395 women on the street, while they were unobtrusively followed by confederate observers. We thus obtained ratings from men, women, and observers on women's reactions to men's advances. Machiavellians, but not narcissists and psychopaths, elicited more positive reactions from women during cloudy weather. This effect was mediated by Machiavellian men's assuredness. We discuss different mechanisms that may constitute the observed Veil of Darkness effect for Machiavellianism.

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Predicting Romantic Interest and Decisions in the Very Early Stages of Mate Selection: Standards, Accuracy, and Sex Differences

Garth Fletcher et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the current study, opposite-sex strangers had 10-min conversations with a possible further date in mind. Based on judgments from partners and observers, three main findings were produced. First, judgments of attractiveness/vitality perceptions (compared with warmth/trustworthiness and status/resources) were the most accurate and were predominant in influencing romantic interest and decisions about further contact. Second, women were more cautious and choosy than men - women underestimated their partner's romantic interest, whereas men exaggerated it, and women were less likely to want further contact. Third, a mediational model found that women (compared with men) were less likely to want further contact because they perceived their partners as possessing less attractiveness/vitality and as falling shorter of their minimum standards of attractiveness/vitality, thus generating lower romantic interest. These novel results are discussed in terms of the mixed findings from prior research, evolutionary psychology, and the functionality of lay psychology in early mate-selection contexts.

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A relationship between attractiveness and performance in professional cyclists

Erik Postma
Biology Letters, February 2014

Abstract:
Females often prefer to mate with high quality males, and one aspect of quality is physical performance. Although a preference for physically fitter males is therefore predicted, the relationship between attractiveness and performance has rarely been quantified. Here, I test for such a relationship in humans and ask whether variation in (endurance) performance is associated with variation in facial attractiveness within elite professional cyclists that finished the 2012 Tour de France. I show that riders that performed better were more attractive, and that this preference was strongest in women not using a hormonal contraceptive. Thereby, I show that, within this preselected but relatively homogeneous sample of the male population, facial attractiveness signals endurance performance. Provided that there is a relationship between performance-mediated attractiveness and reproductive success, this suggests that human endurance capacity has been subject to sexual selection in our evolutionary past.

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The Impact of Weather on Women's Tendency to Wear Red or Pink when at High Risk for Conception

Jessica Tracy & Alec Beall
PLoS ONE, February 2014

Abstract:
Women are particularly motivated to enhance their sexual attractiveness during their most fertile period, and men perceive shades of red, when associated with women, as sexually attractive. Building on this research, we recently found that women are more likely to wear reddish clothing when at peak fertility (Beall & Tracy, 2013), presumably as a way of increasing their attractiveness. Here, we first report results from a methodological replication, conducted during warmer weather, which produced a null effect. Investigating this discrepancy, we considered the impact of a potentially relevant contextual difference between previous research and the replication: current weather. If the red-dress effect is driven by a desire to increase one's sexual appeal, then it should emerge most reliably when peak-fertility women have few alternative options for accomplishing this goal (e.g., wearing minimal clothing). Results from re-analyses of our previously collected data and a new experiment support this account, by demonstrating that the link between fertility and red/pink dress emerges robustly in cold, but not warm, weather. Together, these findings suggest that the previously documented red-dress effect is moderated by current climate concerns, and provide further evidence that under certain circumstances red/pink dress is reliably associated with female fertility.

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Early follicular testosterone level predicts preference for masculinity in male faces - But not for women taking hormonal contraception

Cora Bobst et al.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, March 2014, Pages 142-150

Abstract:
It has been shown that women's preference for masculinity in male faces changes across the menstrual cycle. Preference for masculinity is stronger when conception probability is high than when it is low. These findings have been linked to cyclic fluctuations of hormone levels. The purpose of the present study is to further investigate the link between gonadal steroids (i.e. testosterone, estradiol, and progesterone) and masculinity preference in women, while holding the cycle phase constant. Sixty-two female participants were tested in their early follicular cycle phase, when conception probability is low. Participants were shown face pairs and where asked to choose the more attractive face. Face pairs consisted of a masculinized and feminized version of the same face. For naturally cycling women we found a positive relationship between saliva testosterone levels and masculinity preference, but there was no link between any hormones and masculinity preference for women taking hormonal contraception. We conclude that in naturally cycling women early follicular testosterone levels are associated with masculinity preference. However, these hormonal links were not found for women with artificially modified hormonal levels, that is, for women taking hormonal contraception.

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Words Won't Fail: Experimental Evidence on the Role of Verbal Proficiency in Mate Choice

Benjamin Lange et al.
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Applying sexual selection theory to language, it can be assumed that high verbal proficiency increases attractiveness, but male more than female attractiveness, because women have higher costs regarding reproduction and are thus more selective in mate choice. These predictions were tested experimentally. In the first study, videos were used as the stimuli for opposite-sex participants where an actor/actress performed verbal self-presentations. The content was alike but was delivered with three levels of verbal proficiency with respect to lexical, grammatical, and fluency features. The main effect of verbal proficiency on attractiveness was supported, but the interaction effect was not supported between verbal proficiency and sex according to which male more than female attractiveness is affected by verbal proficiency. In the second study, only audio tracks from the videos were used. Both effects were significant, supporting the assertion that language plays a significant role in mate choice, especially for male attractiveness.

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Does Height Matter? An Examination of Height Preferences in Romantic Coupling

George Yancey & Michael Emerson
Journal of Family Issues, forthcoming

Abstract:
Amidst increasingly equality in belief and in practice between the sexes, we ask if height preferences still matter, and if so, why people say they matter. First, we collected data from Yahoo! dating personal advertisements. Second, we used answers to open-ended questions in an online survey. The Yahoo! data document that height is still important in decisions to date but that it is more important to females than to males. Results from the online survey indicate that women wanted tall men for a variety of reasons, but most of the explanations of our respondents were connected to societal expectations or gender stereotypes. Gender-based legitimation of height preferences seem to be more central than evolutionary-based legitimation, but future work may discover a more nuanced interpretation.

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Late positive potential to explicit sexual images associated with the number of sexual intercourse partners

Nicole Prause et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Risky sexual behaviors typically occur when a person is sexually motivated by potent, sexual reward cues. Yet, individual differences in sensitivity to sexual cues have not been examined with respect to sexual risk behaviors. A greater responsiveness to sexual cues might provide greater motivation for a person to act sexually; a lower responsiveness to sexual cues might lead a person to seek more intense, novel, possibly risky, sexual acts. In the current study, event-related potentials were recorded in 64 men and women while they viewed a series of emotional, including explicit sexual, photographs. The motivational salience of the sexual cues was varied by including more and less explicit sexual images. Indeed, the more explicit sexual stimuli resulted in enhanced late positive potentials (LPP) relative to the less explicit sexual images. Participants with fewer sexual intercourse partners in the last year had reduced LPP amplitude to the less explicit sexual images than the more explicit sexual images, whereas participants with more partners responded similarly to the more and less explicit sexual images. This pattern of results is consistent with a greater responsivity model. Those who engage in more sexual behaviors consistent with risk are also more responsive to less explicit sexual cues.

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Effects of attractiveness on face memory separated from distinctiveness: Evidence from event-related brain potentials

Holger Wiese, Carolin Altmann & Stefan Schweinberger
Neuropsychologia, April 2014, Pages 26-36

Abstract:
The present study examined effects of attractiveness on behavioral and event-related potential (ERP) correlates of face memory. Extending previous reports, we controlled for potential moderating effects of distinctiveness, a variable known to affect memory. Attractive and unattractive faces were selected on the basis of a rating study, and were matched for distinctiveness. In a subsequent recognition memory experiment, we found more accurate memory for unattractive relative to attractive faces. Additionally, an attractiveness effect in the early posterior negativity (EPN) during learning, with larger amplitudes for attractive than unattractive faces, correlated significantly with the magnitude of the memory advantage for unattractive faces at test. These findings establish a contribution of attractiveness to face memory over and above the well-known effect of distinctiveness. Additionally, as the EPN is typically enhanced for affective stimuli, our ERP results imply that the processing of emotionally relevant attractive faces during learning may hamper their encoding into memory.

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Women's genital sexual arousal to oral versus penetrative heterosexual sex varies with menstrual cycle phase at first exposure

Kelly Suschinsky, Jennifer Bossio & Meredith Chivers
Hormones and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Reproductive-aged women show increased interest in sexual activity during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle that can motivate sexual behavior and thereby increase the likelihood of conception. We examined whether women demonstrated greater sexual responses (subjective and genital sexual arousal) to penetrative versus oral sexual activities during the fertile versus non-fertile phases of their cycles, and whether women's arousal responses were influenced by the phase during which they were first exposed to these sexual stimuli (e.g., Slob et al., 1991; Wallen & Rupp, 2010). Twenty-two androphilic women completed two identical sexual arousal assessments in which genital responses were measured with a vaginal photoplethysmograph and their feelings of sexual arousal were recorded. Women viewed an array of 90s films varying by couple type (female-female, male-male, female-male) and sexual activity type (oral or penetrative), during the fertile (follicular) and non-fertile (luteal) phases of their menstrual cycle, with the order of cycle phase at the first testing session counter-balanced. Women tested first in the fertile phase showed significantly greater genital arousal to female-male penetrative versus oral sex in both testing sessions, whereas self-reports of sexual arousal were not affected by cycle phase or testing order. These results contribute to a growing body of research suggesting that fertility status at first exposure to sexual stimuli has a significant effect on subsequent sexual responses to sexual stimuli, and that this effect may differ for subjective versus genital sexual arousal.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, February 28, 2014

Teachable moment

The Elite Illusion: Achievement Effects at Boston and New York Exam Schools

Atila Abdulkadiroğlu, Joshua Angrist & Parag Pathak
Econometrica, January 2014, Pages 137–196

Abstract:
Parents gauge school quality in part by the level of student achievement and a school's racial and socioeconomic mix. The importance of school characteristics in the housing market can be seen in the jump in house prices at school district boundaries where peer characteristics change. The question of whether schools with more attractive peers are really better in a value-added sense remains open, however. This paper uses a fuzzy regression-discontinuity design to evaluate the causal effects of peer characteristics. Our design exploits admissions cutoffs at Boston and New York City's heavily over-subscribed exam schools. Successful applicants near admissions cutoffs for the least selective of these schools move from schools with scores near the bottom of the state SAT score distribution to schools with scores near the median. Successful applicants near admissions cutoffs for the most selective of these schools move from above-average schools to schools with students whose scores fall in the extreme upper tail. Exam school students can also expect to study with fewer nonwhite classmates than unsuccessful applicants. Our estimates suggest that the marked changes in peer characteristics at exam school admissions cutoffs have little causal effect on test scores or college quality.

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Closing the Social-Class Achievement Gap: A Difference-Education Intervention Improves First-Generation Students’ Academic Performance and All Students’ College Transition

Nicole Stephens, MarYam Hamedani & Mesmin Destin
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
College students who do not have parents with 4-year degrees (first-generation students) earn lower grades and encounter more obstacles to success than do students who have at least one parent with a 4-year degree (continuing-generation students). In the study reported here, we tested a novel intervention designed to reduce this social-class achievement gap with a randomized controlled trial (N = 168). Using senior college students’ real-life stories, we conducted a difference-education intervention with incoming students about how their diverse backgrounds can shape what they experience in college. Compared with a standard intervention that provided similar stories of college adjustment without highlighting students’ different backgrounds, the difference-education intervention eliminated the social-class achievement gap by increasing first-generation students’ tendency to seek out college resources (e.g., meeting with professors) and, in turn, improving their end-of-year grade point averages. The difference-education intervention also improved the college transition for all students on numerous psychosocial outcomes (e.g., mental health and engagement).

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The Impact of Greek Organization Membership on Collegiate Outcomes: Evidence from a National Survey

Wesley Routon & Jay Walker
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a longitudinal survey of college students from over 400 institutions and a propensity score weighting framework, we examine the impacts of college fraternity and sorority membership on academic outcomes and general facets of the college experience. Our results suggest a mixed academic effect for males and a positive academic effect for females. For both genders, we find evidence that membership increases the likelihood of graduating on time and graduate school aspirations. For males, however, there appears to be a small, negative impact on grades. For both genders, we find that Greek membership increases the frequency of alcohol and cigarette consumption and decreases religious convictions and religious service attendance. Lastly, Greek organization members are more likely to participate in student government, perform volunteer work, and begin their careers immediately following graduation.

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Peer Effects in Higher Education: A look at heterogeneous impacts

Amanda Griffith & Kevin Rask
Economics of Education Review, April 2014, Pages 65–77

Abstract:
This paper uses data on roommates from two different selective institutions to investigate the effect of peers on first-year performance, with a specific focus on the underlying mechanism. We compare measures of academic ability across student sub-groups by race, income, and gender, and across institutions. Male, minority, and aided students are affected most strongly by their peers. The size and presence of peer effects are dependent on the ability measure used as well as the setting. Standardized estimates suggest ability measured by high school grades have roughly twice the effect of ability measured by SATs. We also test the use of a standardized measure of first-year performance and find more consistent evidence of peer effects across both schools. Our results provide an explanation for the mixed findings in the literature and suggest that the driving force behind peer effects lies in the transfer of general academic know-how rather than in the teaching of specific knowledge or social proximity.

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Student abilities during the expansion of US education

Lutz Hendricks & Todd Schoellman
Journal of Monetary Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The US experienced two dramatic changes in the structure of education in a fifty year period. The first was a large expansion of educational attainment; the second, an increase in test score gaps between college bound and non-college bound students. This paper documents the impact of these two trends on the composition of school groups by ability and the importance of these composition effects for wages. The main finding is that there is a growing gap between the abilities of high school and college-educated workers that accounts for one-half of the college wage premium for recent cohorts and for the entire rise of the college wage premium between the 1910 and 1960 birth cohorts.

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Charter High Schools’ Effects on Long-Term Attainment and Earnings

Kevin Booker et al.
Mathematica Working Paper, January 2014

"In previous work, we produced the first evidence of the effects of charter schools on the probability of graduating from high school and entering college (Booker et al., 2011). Enough time has now passed that the same cohorts of students in Chicago and Florida have had the opportunity to enroll in college for multiple years and to begin careers. In this paper, we used the same approach as in our previous work — relying on a restricted sample of students who were all (treatment and comparison group alike) enrolled in charter school in eighth grade — to estimate the effect of charter high schools on persistence in college and earnings. We continue to find that charter high schools in both locations increase the probability that a student will graduate and enter college. In addition, we find new evidence that students from charter high schools are more likely to persist in college for at least two years. The college persistence findings are not as clear-cut as the findings on high school graduation and college entry, because the estimated impact is statistically significant in only one of the two sites (Florida). Estimates in both sites are positive and nontrivial in magnitude, however, consistent with the interpretation that the attainment effect of charter schools goes beyond merely helping their students to enroll in college. In Florida, we also examine data on the subsequent earnings of students in our analytic sample, at a point after they could have earned college degrees. Charter high school attendance is associated with an increase in maximum annual earnings for students between ages 23 and 25 of $2,347 — or about 12.7 percent higher earnings than for comparable students who attended a charter middle school but matriculated to a traditional high school."

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Equalizing Superstars: The Internet and the Democratization of Education

Daron Acemoglu, David Laibson & John List
MIT Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Educational resources distributed via the Internet are rapidly proliferating. One prominent concern associated with these potentially transformative developments is that, as many of the leading technologies of the last several decades have been, these new sweeping technological changes will be highly disequalizing, creating superstar teachers, a wider gulf between different groups of students and potentially a winner-take-all educational system. In this paper, we argue that, these important concerns notwithstanding, a major impact of the superstars created by web based educational technologies will be the democratization of education: not only will educational resources be more equally distributed, but also lower-skilled teachers will be winners from this technology. At the root of our results is the observation that for web-based technologies to exploit the comparative advantage of skilled lecturers, they will need to be complemented with opportunities for face-to-face discussions with instructors, and web-based lectures will increase the quantity and quality of teaching services complementary to such instruction, potentially increasing the marginal product and wages of lower-skill teachers.

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Cash-on-Hand & College Enrollment: Evidence from Population Tax Data and Policy Nonlinearities

Dayanand Manoli & Nicholas Turner
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
In this paper, we estimate the causal effects of tax refunds (cash-on-hand) on college enrollment using population-level administrative data from United States income tax returns. We exploit plausibly exogenous variation in tax refunds around two kink points in the federal income tax code, including the first kink point in the Earned Income Tax Credit benefit schedule and the 15%-25% tax bracket kink point. Non-parametric graphical evidence suggests that differences in tax refunds across these tax kink points have meaningful effects on enrollment. Using a Regression Kink Design, our results indicate that a $1,000 increase in tax refunds received in the spring of the high school senior year increases college enrollment the next fall by roughly 2 to 3 percentage points. The magnitude of these effects, combined with less-than complete take-up of student aid, may be evidence that tax refunds relax credit constraints.

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The desegregating effect of school tracking

Gianni De Fraja & Francisco Martínez-Mora
Journal of Urban Economics, March 2014, Pages 164–177

Abstract:
This paper makes the following point: “detracking” schools, that is preventing them from allocating students to classes according to their ability, may lead to an increase in income residential segregation. It does so in a simple model where households care about the school peer group of their children. If ability and income are positively correlated, tracking implies that some high income households face the choice of either living in the areas where most of the other high income households live and having their child assigned to the low track, or instead living in lower income neighbourhoods where their child would be in the high track. Under mild conditions, tracking leads to an equilibrium with partial income desegregation where perfect income segregation would be the only stable outcome without tracking.

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Collective Bargaining, Transfer Rights, and Disadvantaged Schools

Sarah Anzia & Terry Moe
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2014, Pages 83-111

Abstract:
Collective bargaining is common in American public education, but its consequences are poorly understood. We focus here on key contractual provisions — seniority-based transfer rights — that affect teacher assignments, and we show that these transfer rights operate to burden disadvantaged schools with higher percentages of inexperienced teachers. We also show that this impact is conditional: It is substantial in large districts, where decisions are likely to follow rules, but it is virtually zero in small districts, where decisions tend to be less formal and undesirable outcomes can more easily be avoided. The negative consequences are thus concentrated on precisely those districts and schools — large districts, high-minority schools — that have been the nation’s worst performers and the most difficult to improve.

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The contribution of rising school quality to U.S. economic growth

Hye Mi You
Journal of Monetary Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
U.S. public school expenditures per pupil increased by a factor of 9 during the 20th century. This paper quantifies how much U.S. labor quality has grown due to the rise in educational spending. A schooling model and cross-sectional earnings variations across cohorts are exploited to identify the effect of the increased school expenditures on labor quality growth. The findings are that (i) U.S. labor quality increased by 0.4% per year between 1967 and 2000, one-fifth of which is attributable to the rise in educational spending; and that (ii) labor quality growth explains one-quarter of the rise in labor productivity.

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The (Surprising) Efficacy of Academic and Behavioral Intervention with Disadvantaged Youth: Results from a Randomized Experiment in Chicago

Philip Cook et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
There is growing concern that improving the academic skills of disadvantaged youth is too difficult and costly, so policymakers should instead focus either on vocationally oriented instruction for teens or else on early childhood education. Yet this conclusion may be premature given that so few previous interventions have targeted a potential fundamental barrier to school success: “mismatch” between what schools deliver and the needs of disadvantaged youth who have fallen behind in their academic or non-academic development. This paper reports on a randomized controlled trial of a two-pronged intervention that provides disadvantaged youth with non-academic supports that try to teach youth social-cognitive skills based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and intensive individualized academic remediation. The study sample consists of 106 male 9th and 10th graders in a public high school on the south side of Chicago, of whom 95% are black and 99% are free or reduced price lunch eligible. Participation increased math test scores by 0.65 of a control group standard deviation (SD) and 0.48 SD in the national distribution, increased math grades by 0.67 SD, and seems to have increased expected graduation rates by 14 percentage points (46%). While some questions remain about the intervention, given these effects and a cost per participant of around $4,400 (with a range of $3,000 to $6,000), this intervention seems to yield larger gains in adolescent outcomes per dollar spent than many other intervention strategies.

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Further understanding factors associated with grade retention: Birthday effects and socioemotional skills

Francis Huang
Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, March–April 2014, Pages 79–93

Abstract:
Young-for-grade kindergarteners experience a disproportionate risk of retention compared to their old-for-grade peers. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten cohort dataset, this study investigated whether socioemotional skills mediated the association of age with kindergarten retention. Multilevel logistic regression models tested whether certain positive (e.g., interpersonal skills, approaches to learning) and negative (e.g., externalizing behavior) socioemotional skills were related to the likelihood of grade repetition, while controlling for academic abilities and student demographic variables. Findings showed that the relatively youngest kindergarteners were approximately five times more likely to be retained compared to the oldest student and that a child's approach to learning (e.g., attentiveness, task persistence) contributed as much as a child's academic abilities in relation to the likelihood of repeating a grade.

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How Teacher Evaluation Methods Matter for Accountability: A Comparative Analysis of Teacher Effectiveness Ratings by Principals and Teacher Value-Added Measures

Douglas Harris, William Ingle & Stacey Rutledge
American Educational Research Journal, February 2014, Pages 73-112

Abstract:
Policymakers are revolutionizing teacher evaluation by attaching greater stakes to student test scores and observation-based teacher effectiveness measures, but relatively little is known about why they often differ so much. Quantitative analysis of thirty schools suggests that teacher value-added measures and informal principal evaluations are positively, but weakly, correlated. Qualitative analysis suggests that some principals give high value-added teachers low ratings because the teachers exert too little effort and are “lone wolves” who work in isolation and contribute little to the school community. The results suggest that the method of evaluation may not only affect which specific teachers are rewarded in the short term, but shape the qualities of teacher and teaching students experience in the long term.

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Does attending a STEM high school improve student performance? Evidence from New York City

Matthew Wiswall et al.
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the role of specialized science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) high schools in New York City (NYC) in promoting performance in science and mathematics and in closing the gender and race gaps in STEM subjects. Using administrative data covering several recent cohorts of public school students and a rich variety of high schools including over 30 STEMs, we estimate the effect of attending a STEM high school on a variety of student outcomes, including test taking and performance on specialized science and mathematics examinations. While comparisons of means indicate an advantage to attending a STEM school, more thorough analysis conditioning on a rich set of covariates, including previous grade test performance, reduces or eliminates this advantage. Females and males in STEMs do better than their counterparts in Non-STEMs, but the gender gap is also larger in these schools. We also find that the black-white and Hispanic-white gaps are smaller in STEM relative to Non-STEM schools across almost all outcomes, but the Asian-white gap, in contrast, is larger in STEMs relative to Non-STEMs.

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Peer Effects and Policy: The Relationship between Classroom Gender Composition and Student Achievement in Early Elementary School

Michael Gottfried & Jennifer Graves
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
The existence of gender peer effects has been well-documented, yet regarding estimates that are best-suited for policy formation, the literature finds somewhat mixed results. This article builds on the gender peer effects literature in a number of ways. First, we focus on early elementary school students, for which fewer studies exist. We also test whether effects in early elementary grades are subject-specific. Contrary to findings for older grade levels, we find that estimates by gender are subject-specific for the early elementary grades. Second, previous studies using similar estimation have focused on very different geographical areas, while this study makes use of nationally representative elementary school data for the United States. Third, we explore whether effects vary across grades, for which the existing literature finds mixed results. We find that the negative subject-specific effects of having a higher proportion of boys in the classroom increases in magnitude across grades, with insignificant effects in kindergarten, negative and significant by first grade, and larger negative and significant effects by third grade. Our findings suggest that a more balanced gender mix in the classroom is optimal for both reading and math comprehension for both boys and girls. However, regarding math performance, there is also suggestive evidence that a 100% separation of genders could improve girls’ math performance without consequences for boys’ math performance, motivating further research into single-gender subject-specific instruction.

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Unionization and Productivity: Evidence from Charter Schools

Cassandra Hart & Aaron Sojourner
University of California Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
This paper studies the relationship between teacher unionization and student achievement. Generally stable patterns of teacher unionization since the 1970s have historically presented challenges in measuring the effects of unionization on educational production. However, the blossoming of the charter school sector in recent decades provides fertile ground for study because while most charters are non-union, teachers at some charters have unionized. Using a generalized difference-in-difference approach combining California union certification data with student achievement data from 2003-2012, we find that, aside from a one-year dip in achievement associated with the unionization process itself, unionization does not affect student achievement.

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The Economics of Online Postsecondary Education: MOOCs, Nonselective Education, and Highly Selective Education

Caroline Hoxby
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
I consider how online postsecondary education, including massive open online courses (MOOCs), might fit into economically sustainable models of postsecondary education. I contrast nonselective postsecondary education (NSPE)in which institutions sell fairly standardized educational services in return for up-front payments and highly selective postsecondary education (HSPE) in which institutions invest in students in return for repayments much later in life. The analysis suggests that MOOCs will be financially sustainable substitutes for some NSPE, but there are risks even in these situations. The analysis suggests that MOOCs will be financially sustainable substitutes for only a small share of HSPE and are likely to collapse the economic model that allows HSPE institutions to invest in advanced education and research. I outline a non-MOOC model of online education that may allow HSPE institutions both to sustain their distinctive activities and to reach a larger number of students.

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Class size, class composition, and the distribution of student achievement

Ryan Bosworth
Education Economics, March/April 2014, Pages 141-165

Abstract:
Using richly detailed data on fourth‐ and fifth‐grade students in the North Carolina public school system, I find evidence that students are assigned to classrooms in a non‐random manner based on observable characteristics for a substantial portion of classrooms. Moreover, I find that this non‐random assignment is statistically related to class size for a number of student characteristics and that failure to control for classroom composition can severely bias traditionally estimated class size effects. Teacher‐fixed effects and classroom composition controls appear to be effective at addressing selection related to classroom composition. I find heterogeneity in class size effects by student characteristics – students who struggle in school appear to benefit more from class size reductions than students in the top of the achievement distribution. I find that smaller classes have smaller achievement gaps on average and that class size reductions may be relatively more effective at closing achievement gaps than raising average achievement; however, class size effects on both average achievement and achievement gaps are small.

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Estimating Parents’ Valuations of Class Size Reductions Using Attrition in the Tennessee STAR Experiment

Chris Rohlfs & Melanie Zilora
B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study estimates parents’ valuations of small classes by examining the effects of randomly assigned class type on the decision to remove one’s child from the Tennessee Student Teacher Achievement Ratio experiment, using a new hedonic estimation strategy that estimates the cash payment that would be required to generate the same difference in attrition rates as was observed between treatment and control groups. In 2010 dollars, our preferred estimates indicate that parents on the margin of sending their children to private schools valued small classes at $2,000–$18,000 per year relative to a cost of $3,000 per student year.

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Nuns and the Effects of Catholic Schools: Evidence from Vatican II

Rania Gihleb & Osea Giuntella
Boston University Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
This paper examines the causal effects of Catholic schooling on educational attainment. Using a novel instrumental-variable approach that exploits an exogenous shock to the Catholic school system, we show that the positive correlation between Catholic schooling and student outcomes is explained by selection bias. Spearheaded by the universal call to holiness and the opening to lay leadership, the reforms that occurred at the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) in the early 1960s produced a dramatic exogenous change in the cost/benefit ratio of religious life in the Catholic Church. The decline in vocations that followed contributed to a significant increase in costs and, in many cases, to the closure of Catholic schools. We document that this decline was heterogeneous across US dioceses, and that it was more marked in those dioceses governed by a liberal bishop. Merging diocesan data drawn from the Official Catholic Directory (1960-1980) and the US Census, we show that that the variation in the supply of female religious teachers across US dioceses is strongly related to Catholic schooling. Using the abrupt decline in female vocations as an instrument for Catholic schooling, we find no evidence of positive effects on student outcomes.

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Can You Leave High School Behind?

Sandra Black et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
In recent years, many states, including California, Texas, and Oregon, have changed admissions policies to increase access to public universities for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. A key concern, however, is how these students will perform. This paper examines the relationship between high school quality and student success at college. Using newly available administrative data from the University of Texas at Austin, we take advantage of the unique policy environment provided by Texas’s Top Ten Percent automatic admissions law, which has not only increased the diversity of high schools in the state that send students to the university, but also provides an admission criteria based on a sole observable characteristic: high school class rank. We find that high school characteristics do affect student performance, and these effects seem more pronounced for women and low-income students. In addition, there is little evidence that the effects of high school characteristics decay over time.

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Classmates With Disabilities and Students’ Noncognitive Outcomes

Michael Gottfried
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2014, Pages 20-43

Abstract:
The increasing trend of placing students with disabilities in general education classrooms has raised questions among researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and parents about classmate peer effects on all students. However, little is known about the peer effects of classmates with disabilities on the outcomes of other students in the classroom; no research has evaluated these peer effects on other students’ noncognitive outcomes though they are highly predictive of schooling and lifelong success. The purpose of this study is to fill this research gap by using quasi-experimental methods on a nationally representative data set (i.e., Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten Class) of elementary school students to examine the peer effects of classmates with disabilities on five noncognitive scales for classmates without disabilities. The findings indicate that students with a greater number of classmates with disabilities have higher externalizing and internalizing behavioral problems and lower frequencies of self-control, approaches to learning, and interpersonal skills. The findings are differentiated by disability category of a student’s classmates and are moderated by individual and contextual factors. Implications for policy and practice are addressed.

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Jackpot? The Impact of Lottery Scholarships on Enrollment in Tennessee

Donald Bruce & Celeste Carruthers
Journal of Urban Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We identify how the cost of college shapes high school graduates’ choice of college state and sector by exploiting discontinuous eligibility criteria for broad-based merit scholarships in Tennessee. For students whose ACT is a decisive factor in their scholarship eligibility, reductions in college cost result in substitution away from two-year community colleges in favor of four-year institutions. This pattern is more prominent among lower income students, and treatment effects are limited to a very local window around the qualifying threshold. We find no evidence that the scholarship affects college-going at the eligibility margin, little to no evidence of substitution between in-state and out-of-state colleges, and no evidence of substitution between public and private universities. Even so, results demonstrate that merit aid encompassing the middle of the ability spectrum can improve the quality of colleges students choose to attend.

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Understanding the Role of Time-Varying Unobserved Ability Heterogeneity in Education Production

Weili Ding & Steven Lehrer
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Unobserved ability heterogeneity has long been postulated to play a key role in human capital development. Traditional strategies to estimate education production functions do not allow for varying role or development of unobserved ability as a child ages. Such restrictions are highly inconsistent with a growing body of scientific evidence; moreover, in order to obtain unbiased parameter estimates of observed educational inputs, researchers must properly account for unobserved skills that may be correlated with other inputs to the production process. To illustrate our empirical strategy we use experimental data from Tennessee's Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio experiment, known as Project STAR. We find that unobserved ability is endogenously developed over time and its impact on cognitive achievement varies significantly between grades in all subject areas. Moreover, we present evidence that accounting for time-varying unobserved ability across individuals and a more general depreciating pattern of observed inputs are both important when estimating education production functions.

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New Evidence on Teacher Labor Supply

Mimi Engel, Brian Jacob & Chris Curran
American Educational Research Journal, February 2014, Pages 36-72

Abstract:
Recent evidence on the large variance in teacher effectiveness has spurred interest in teacher labor markets. Research documents that better qualified teachers typically work in more advantaged schools but cannot determine the relative importance of supply versus demand. To isolate teacher preferences, we document which schools prospective teachers interviewed at during job fairs in Chicago. We find substantial variation in the number of applicants per school, ranging from under five to over 300. Schools serving more advantaged students have more applicants per vacancy, on average, and teacher preferences vary systematically by their own demographic characteristics. School geographic location is highly predictive of applications, even after controlling for distance from applicants’ home addresses and a host of school and neighborhood characteristics.

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Show Them the Mission: A Comparison of Teacher Recruitment Incentives in High Need Communities

James Shuls & Robert Maranto
Social Science Quarterly, March 2014, Pages 239–252

Objective: Most public organizations use both materialistic and idealistic appeals to attract valued employees, with the latter being particularly important for difficult jobs. Teaching in high poverty communities is one such job, though none have studied whether successful high poverty schools such as the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) schools make relatively greater use of public service appeals in teacher recruitment. In education, we identify these materialistic and idealistic appeals as teacher-centered and student-centered incentives. Teacher-centered incentives are those that appeal to a teacher's desire for higher compensation or advancement opportunities, whereas student-centered appeals attempt to attract teachers with a public service mission.

Method: We compare the use of teacher-centered and student-centered appeals in teacher recruitment by the universe of KIPP networks (n = 33) and neighboring traditional public school districts (n = 34), each serving disadvantaged populations. Coders record personnel website use of four teacher-centered appeals (including salary and benefits) and four student-centered appeals.

Results: Chi-square tests show that KIPP schools make less use of teacher-centered appeals, especially monetary compensation, and more use of student-centered appeals in teacher recruitment.

Conclusion: Supplemented by fieldwork, findings suggest that appeals to mission may work better than merit pay in recruiting effective teachers for high poverty schools.

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Improving the Implementation and Effectiveness of Out-Of-School-Time Tutoring

Carolyn Heinrich et al.
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
School districts are spending millions on tutoring outside regular school day hours for economically and academically disadvantaged students in need of extra academic assistance. Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), parents of children in persistently low-performing schools were allowed to choose their child's tutoring provider, and together with school districts, they were also primarily responsible for holding providers in the private market accountable for performance. We present results from a multisite, mixed-method longitudinal study of the impact of out-of-school time (OST) tutoring on student reading and mathematics achievement that link provider attributes and policy and program administration variables to tutoring program effectiveness. We find that many students are not getting enough hours of high-quality, differentiated instruction to produce significant gains in their learning, in part because of high hourly rates charged by providers for tutoring. We identify strategies and policy levers that school districts can use to improve OST tutoring policy design and launch improved programs as waivers from NCLB are granted.

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Intensive reading remediation in grade 2 or 3: Are there effects a decade later?

Benita Blachman et al.
Journal of Educational Psychology, February 2014, Pages 46-57

Abstract:
Despite data supporting the benefits of early reading interventions, there has been little evaluation of the long-term educational impact of these interventions, with most follow-up studies lasting less than 2 years (Suggate, 2010). This study evaluated reading outcomes more than a decade after the completion of an 8-month reading intervention using a randomized design with 2nd and 3rd graders selected on the basis of poor word-level skills (Blachman et al., 2004). Fifty-eight (84%) of the original 69 participants took part in the study. The treatment group demonstrated a moderate to small effect size advantage on reading and spelling measures over the comparison group. There were statistically significant differences with moderate effect sizes between treatment and comparison groups on standardized measures of word recognition (i.e., Woodcock Basic Skills Cluster, d = 0.53; Woodcock Word Identification, d = 0.62), the primary, but not exclusive, focus of the intervention. Statistical tests on other reading and spelling measures did not reach thresholds for statistical significance. Patterns in the data related to other educational outcomes, such as high school completion, favored the treatment participants, although differences were not significant.

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The Dynamic Effects of Educational Accountability

Hugh Macartney
NBER Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
This paper provides the first evidence that value-added education accountability schemes induce dynamic distortions. Extending earlier dynamic moral hazard models, I propose a new test for ratchet effects, showing that classroom inputs are distorted less when schools face a shorter horizon over which they can influence student performance. I then exploit grade span variation using rich educational data to credibly identify the extent of dynamic gaming, finding compelling evidence of ratchet effects based on a triple-differences approach. Further analysis indicates that these effects are driven primarily by effort distortions, with teacher reallocations playing a secondary role.

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Effects of an Out-of-School Program on Urban High School Youth's Academic Performance

Julie O'Donnell & Sandra Kirkner
Journal of Community Psychology, March 2014, Pages 176–190

Abstract:
Research strongly indicates that low-income youth, particularly those of color who are overrepresented in poverty, have lower levels of academic performance than their higher-income peers. It has been suggested that community-based out-of-school programs can play an important role in reducing these academic differences. This study examined the effect of the YMCA High School Youth Institute on the grades, test scores, and school attendance of urban high school youth using a randomly selected matched comparison group. Those involved in the program had significantly higher English-language art and math standardized test scores and somewhat fewer absences than the comparison group. Active program participants had significantly higher academic grade-point averages (GPAs) and math test scores as well as somewhat higher total GPA. The findings suggest that high-quality out-of-school programs can positively influence the academic performance of low-income youth. Implications for practice are discussed.

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Teacher Mobility and Financial Incentives: A Descriptive Analysis of Denver’s ProComp

Eleanor Fulbeck
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2014, Pages 67-82

Abstract:
Extensive teacher mobility can undermine policy efforts to develop a high-quality workforce. In response, policymakers have increasingly championed financial incentives to retain teachers. In 2006, the Denver Public Schools adopted an alternative teacher compensation reform, the Professional Compensation System for Teachers (“ProComp”). Using longitudinal teacher-level data from 2001–2002 to 2010–2011, I estimate hazard models that identify the relationship between ProComp and teacher mobility. Specifically, I compare mobility patterns of teachers who received a ProComp incentive with those who did not, with special attention to teacher mobility in high-poverty schools. Results suggest receiving a ProComp incentive is associated with a significant decrease in the odds of departure. This appears to be driven by a decrease in a teacher’s odds of leaving the district rather than moving to a new school within the district, by voluntary ProComp participants and by teachers who receive incentives that total more than $5,000.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Skin condition

Discrimination, Racial Bias, and Telomere Length in African-American Men

David Chae et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, February 2014, Pages 103–111

Background: Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is an indicator of general systemic aging, with shorter LTL being associated with several chronic diseases of aging and earlier mortality. Identifying factors related to LTL among African Americans may yield insights into mechanisms underlying racial disparities in health.

Purpose: To test whether the combination of more frequent reports of racial discrimination and holding a greater implicit anti-black racial bias is associated with shorter LTL among African- American men.

Methods: Cross-sectional study of a community sample of 92 African-American men aged between 30 and 50 years. Participants were recruited from February to May 2010. Ordinary least squares regressions were used to examine LTL in kilobase pairs in relation to racial discrimination and implicit racial bias. Data analysis was completed in July 2013.

Results: After controlling for chronologic age and socioeconomic and health-related characteristics, the interaction between racial discrimination and implicit racial bias was significantly associated with LTL (b=−0.10, SE=0.04, p=0.02). Those demonstrating a stronger implicit anti-black bias and reporting higher levels of racial discrimination had the shortest LTL. Household income-to-poverty threshold ratio was also associated with LTL (b=0.05, SE=0.02, p<0.01).

Conclusions: Results suggest that multiple levels of racism, including interpersonal experiences of racial discrimination and the internalization of negative racial bias, operate jointly to accelerate biological aging among African-American men. Societal efforts to address racial discrimination in concert with efforts to promote positive in-group racial attitudes may protect against premature biological aging in this population.

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Does the Hispanic Paradox in U.S. Adult Mortality Extend to Disability?

Mark Hayward et al.
Population Research and Policy Review, February 2014, Pages 81-96

Abstract:
Studies consistently document a Hispanic paradox in U.S. adult mortality, whereby Hispanics have similar or lower mortality rates than non-Hispanic whites despite lower socioeconomic status. This study extends this line of inquiry to disability, especially among foreign-born Hispanics, since their advantaged mortality seemingly should be paired with health advantages more generally. We also assess whether the paradox extends to U.S.-born Hispanics to evaluate the effect of nativity. We calculate multistate life tables of life expectancy with disability to assess whether racial/ethnic and nativity differences in the length of disability-free life parallel differences in overall life expectancy. Our results document a Hispanic paradox in mortality for foreign-born and U.S.-born Hispanics. However, Hispanics’ low mortality rates are not matched by low disability rates. Their disability rates are substantially higher than those of non-Hispanic whites and generally similar to those of non-Hispanic blacks. The result is a protracted period of disabled life expectancy for Hispanics, both foreign- and U.S.-born.

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Black/White dating online: Interracial courtship in the 21st century

Gerald Mendelsohn et al.
Psychology of Popular Media Culture, January 2014, Pages 2-18

Abstract:
We analyzed personal profiles and records of communication for more than a million nationwide users of a major online dating site. White more than Black, women more than men, and old more than young users stated a preference for a same-race partner. Overall, Blacks, especially Black men, proved more open to cross-race dating than did Whites. More than 80% of the contacts initiated by Whites were to Whites, with only 3% to Blacks. This sharp difference held for men and women and even for those who stated no racial or ethnic preference in their profiles. Blacks were 10 times more likely to contact Whites than Whites were to contact Blacks. Reciprocations to messages showed the same trends, but more moderately.

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Digital Discrimination: The Case of Airbnb.com

Benjamin Edelman & Michael Luca
Harvard Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Online marketplaces often contain information not only about products, but also about the people selling the products. In an effort to facilitate trust, many platforms encourage sellers to provide personal profiles and even to post pictures of themselves. However, these features may also facilitate discrimination based on sellers’ race, gender, age, or other aspects of appearance. In this paper, we test for racial discrimination against landlords in the online rental marketplace Airbnb. Using a new data set combining pictures of all New York City landlords on Airbnb with their rental prices and information about quality of the rentals, we show that non-black hosts charge approximately 12% more than black hosts for the equivalent rental. These effects are robust when controlling for all information visible in the Airbnb marketplace. These findings highlight the prevalence of discrimination in online marketplaces, suggesting an important unintended consequence of a seemingly-routine mechanism for building trust.

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Structural racism and myocardial infarction in the United States

Alicia Lukachko, Mark Hatzenbuehler & Katherine Keyes
Social Science & Medicine, February 2014, Pages 42–50

Abstract:
There is a growing research literature suggesting that racism is an important risk factor undermining the health of Blacks in the United States. Racism can take many forms, ranging from interpersonal interactions to institutional/structural conditions and practices. Existing research, however, tends to focus on individual forms of racial discrimination using self-report measures. Far less attention has been paid to whether structural racism may disadvantage the health of Blacks in the United States. The current study addresses gaps in the existing research by using novel measures of structural racism and by explicitly testing the hypothesis that structural racism is a risk factor for myocardial infarction among Blacks in the United States. State-level indicators of structural racism included four domains: (1) political participation; (2) employment and job status; (3) educational attainment; and (4) judicial treatment. State-level racial disparities across these domains were proposed to represent the systematic exclusion of Blacks from resources and mobility in society. Data on past-year myocardial infarction were obtained from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (non-Hispanic Black: N = 8245; non-Hispanic White: N = 24,507), a nationally representative survey of the U.S. civilian, non-institutionalized population aged 18 and older. Models were adjusted for individual-level confounders (age, sex, education, household income, medical insurance) as well as for state-level disparities in poverty. Results indicated that Blacks living in states with high levels of structural racism were generally more likely to report past-year myocardial infarction than Blacks living in low-structural racism states. Conversely, Whites living in high structural racism states experienced null or lower odds of myocardial infarction compared to Whites living in low-structural racism states. These results raise the provocative possibility that structural racism may not only harm the targets of stigma but also benefit those who wield the power to enact stigma and discrimination.

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Effects of perceived racial discrimination on health status and health behavior: A differential mediation hypothesis

Frederick Gibbons et al.
Health Psychology, January 2014, Pages 11-19

Objective: Prospective data tested a “differential mediation” hypothesis: The relations (found in previous research) between perceived racial discrimination and physical health status versus health-impairing behavior (problematic substance use) are mediated by two different types of affective reactions, internalizing and externalizing.

Method: The sample included 680 African American women from the Family and Community Health Study (M age = 37 years at Time 1; 45 years at Time 4). Four waves of data were analyzed. Perceived discrimination was assessed, along with anxiety and depression (internalizing) and hostility/anger (externalizing) as mediators, and physical health status and problematic substance use (drinking) as outcomes.

Results: Structural equation modeling indicated that discrimination predicted increases in both externalizing and internalizing reactions. These affective responses, in turn, predicted subsequent problematic substance use and physical health status, respectively, also controlling for earlier reports. In each case, the indirect effects from discrimination through the affective mediator to the specific health outcome were significant and consistent with the differential mediation hypothesis.

Conclusions: Perceived racial discrimination is associated with increases in internalizing and externalizing reactions among Black women, but these reactions are related to different health outcomes. Changes in internalizing are associated with self-reported changes in physical health status, whereas changes in externalizing are associated with changes in substance use problems. Discussion focuses on the processes whereby discrimination affects health behavior and physical health status.

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Race of Interviewer Effect on Disclosures of Suicidal Low-Income African American Women

Tara Samples et al.
Journal of Black Psychology, February 2014, Pages 27-46

Abstract:
Few studies have investigated the impact of interviewer race on the results gleaned through psychological assessment. African American and European American clinical evaluators conducted face-to-face interviews with 161 low-income African American women seeking services at an inner-city hospital following a suicide attempt. Participants were administered measures related to various current life stressors, including the Survey for Recent Life Events, which assesses various forms of daily hassles, and the Index of Spouse Abuse, which taps both physical and nonphysical intimate partner violence (IPV). Multivariate analyses of variance revealed a significant difference on the participants’ reports of daily hassles and IPV to African American and European American evaluators. With regard to overall life stress, African American women reported higher levels of total life stress, time pressure stress, social acceptability stress, and social victimization to African American than in European American–led interviews. They also endorsed higher levels of both physical and nonphysical IPV to interviewers of the same race as themselves as compared with interviewers from a different racial background. There were no group differences in terms of work stress, sociocultural differences, and finances. The findings underscore the saliency of interviewer race as a source of nonrandom measurement error capable of influencing statistical results. Implications of ignoring race of interviewer effects in analysis are explored and suggestions are offered in terms of culturally responsive assessment processes.

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Perceived Discrimination Among African American Adolescents and Allostatic Load: A Longitudinal Analysis With Buffering Effects

Gene Brody et al.
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study was designed to examine the prospective relations of perceived racial discrimination with allostatic load (AL), along with a possible buffer of the association. A sample of 331 African Americans in the rural South provided assessments of perceived discrimination from ages 16 to 18 years. When youth were 18 years, caregivers reported parental emotional support and youth assessed peer emotional support. AL and potential confounder variables were assessed when youth were 20. Latent growth mixture modeling identified two perceived discrimination classes: high and stable, and low and increasing. Adolescents in the high and stable class evinced heightened AL even with confounder variables controlled. The racial discrimination to AL link was not significant for young adults who received high emotional support.

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Provider-Patient Communication About Adherence to Anti-retroviral Regimens Differs by Patient Race and Ethnicity

Barton Laws et al.
AIDS and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Disparities in HIV care and outcomes negatively affect Black and Hispanic patients. Features of clinical communication may be a factor. This study is based on coding transcripts of 404 routine outpatient visits by people with HIV at four sites, using a validated system. In models adjusting for site and patient characteristics, with provider as a random effect, providers were more “verbally dominant” with Black patients than with others. There was more discussion about ARV adherence with both Black and Hispanic patients, but no more discussion about strategies to improve adherence. Providers made more directive utterances discussing ARV treatment with Hispanic patients. Possible interpretations of these findings are that providers are less confident in Black and Hispanic patients to be adherent; that they place too much confidence in their White, non-Hispanic patients; or that patients differentially want such discussion. The lack of specific problem solving and high provider directiveness suggests areas for improvement.

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The Changing Character of the Black–White Infant Mortality Gap, 1983–2004

Todd Elder et al.
American Journal of Public Health, February 2014, Pages S105-S111

Objectives: We examined how changes in demographic, geographic, and childbearing risk factors were related to changes in the Black–White infant mortality rate (IMR) gap over 2 decades.

Methods: Using 1983–2004 Vital Statistics, we applied inverse probability weighting methods to examine the relationship between risk factors and 3 outcomes: the overall IMR gap, its birth weight component, and its conditional (on birth weight) IMR component.

Results: The unexplained IMR gap (the part not related to observed risk factors) was stable, changing from 5.0 to 5.3 deaths per 1000 live births. By contrast, the explained gap declined from 4.6 to 1.9. The decline in the explained gap was driven by the changing relationship between risk factors and IMR. Further analysis revealed that most of the unexplained gap occurred among infants weighing less than 1000 grams at birth, whereas most of the explained gap occurred among infants weighing more than 1000 grams.

Conclusions: The unexplained gap was stable over the last 2 decades, but the explained gap declined markedly. If the stability of the unexplained gap continues, even complete convergence of risk factors would reduce the Black–White IMR gap by only one quarter.

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Soaking Up the Sun: The Complicated Role of Sunshine in the Production of Infant Health

Jennifer Trudeau, Karen Smith Conway & Andrea Kutinova Menclova
University of New Hampshire Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
This research explores the role of sunshine in birth outcomes production. Its most obvious role is through Vitamin D absorption, which could explain racial disparities because skin pigmentation inhibits this process. However, the effects of sunshine are complex and closely connected to environmental factors (e.g., air pollution and temperature), season of birth, and policies like Medicaid. Combining daily weather data with 1989-2004 birth outcomes from the Natality Detail Files, we estimate sunshine’s effects in a range of models that disentangle these confounding factors and find they differ by race and explain a nontrivial portion of racial differences in birth weight.

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The pathways from perceived discrimination to self-rated health: An investigation of the roles of distrust, social capital, and health behaviors

Danhong Chen & Tse-Chuan Yang
Social Science & Medicine, March 2014, Pages 64–73

Abstract:
Although there has been extensive research on the adverse impacts of perceived discrimination on health, it remains unclear how perceived discrimination gets under the skin. This paper develops a comprehensive structural equation model (SEM) by incorporating both the direct effects of perceived discrimination on self-rated health (SRH), a powerful predictor for many health outcomes, and the indirect effects of perceived discrimination on SRH through health care system distrust, neighborhood social capital, and health behaviors and health conditions. Applying SEM to 9,880 adults (aged between 18 and 100) in the 2008 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, we not only confirmed the positive and direct association between discrimination and poor or fair SRH, but also verified two underlying mechanisms: 1) perceived discrimination is associated with lower neighborhood social capital, which further contributes to poor or fair SRH; and 2) perceived discrimination is related to risky behaviors (e.g., reduced physical activity and sleep quality, and intensified smoking) that lead to worse health conditions, and then result in poor or fair SRH. Moreover, we found that perceived discrimination is negatively associated with health care system distrust, but did not find a significant relationship between distrust and poor or fair SRH.

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The Contribution of Health Care and Other Interventions to Black–White Disparities in Life Expectancy, 1980–2007

Irma Elo, Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez & James Macinko
Population Research and Policy Review, February 2014, Pages 97-126

Abstract:
Black–white mortality disparities remain sizable in the United States. In this study, we use the concept of avoidable/amenable mortality to estimate cause-of-death contributions to the difference in life expectancy between whites and blacks by gender in the United States in 1980, 1993, and 2007. We begin with a review of the concept of “avoidable mortality” and results of prior studies using this cause-of-death classification. We then present the results of our empirical analyses. We classified causes of death as amenable to medical care, sensitive to public health policies and health behaviors, ischemic heart disease, suicide, HIV/AIDS, and all other causes combined. We used vital statistics data on deaths and Census Bureau population estimates and standard demographic decomposition techniques. In 2007, causes of death amenable to medical care continued to account for close to 2 years of the racial difference in life expectancy among men (2.08) and women (1.85). Causes amenable to public health interventions made a larger contribution to the racial difference in life expectancy among men (1.17 years) than women (0.08 years). The contribution of HIV/AIDS substantially widened the racial difference among both men (1.08 years) and women (0.42 years) in 1993, but its contribution declined over time. Despite progress observed over the time period studied, a substantial portion of black–white disparities in mortality could be reduced given more equitable access to medical care and health interventions.

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The Impact of Education and Intergroup Friendship on the Development of Ethnocentrism. A Latent Growth Curve Model Analysis of a Five-Year Panel Study among Belgian Late Adolescents

Marc Hooghe, Cecil Meeusen & Ellen Quintelier
European Sociological Review, December 2013, Pages 1109-1121

Abstract:
In this article, we investigate individual-level changes in ethnocentrism during adolescence and pre-adulthood. We use structural equation modelling for longitudinal designs on data from the Belgian Political Panel Survey (BPPS, 2006–2011). In this panel, 2,428 Belgian adolescents were questioned at three points in time: at the ages of 16, 18 and 21 years. Individual change is analysed by using Latent Growth Curve Modelling. Individual variability was explained using two important predictors of ethnocentrism: education and intergroup friendship. Adolescents in lower educational tracks have higher initial levels of ethnocentrism, and their levels of ethnocentrism continue to rise during the observation period. Adolescents who change to lower education tracks between 2006 and 2008 increase more in ethnocentrism than adolescents who stay in the same track. While intergroup friendship had an effect on initial levels of ethnocentrism, this contact did not have an effect on subsequent changes in the level of ethnocentrism.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bill of health

Understanding Differences Between High- And Low-Price Hospitals: Implications For Efforts To Rein In Costs

Chapin White, James Reschovsky & Amelia Bond
Health Affairs, February 2014, Pages 324-331

Abstract:
Private insurers pay widely varying prices for inpatient care across hospitals. Previous research indicates that certain hospitals use market clout to obtain higher payment rates, but there have been few in-depth examinations of the relationship between hospital characteristics and pricing power. This study used private insurance claims data to identify hospitals receiving inpatient prices significantly higher or lower than the median in their market. High-price hospitals, compared to other hospitals, tend to be larger; be major teaching hospitals; belong to systems with large market shares; and provide specialized services, such as heart transplants and Level I trauma care. High-price hospitals also receive significant revenues from nonpatient sources, such as state Medicaid disproportionate-share hospital funds, and they enjoy healthy total financial margins. Quality indicators for high-price hospitals were mixed: High-price hospitals fared much better than low-price hospitals did in U.S. News & World Report rankings, which are largely based on reputation, while generally scoring worse on objective measures of quality, such as postsurgical mortality rates. Thus, insurers may face resistance if they attempt to steer patients away from high-price hospitals because these facilities have good reputations and offer specialized services that may be unique in their markets.

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Equilibrium Health Spending and Population Aging in a Model of Endogenous Growth — Will the GDP Share of Health Spending Keep Rising?

Isaac Ehrlich & Yong Yin
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
The apparently unrelenting growth in the GDP-share of health spending (SHS) has been a perennial issue of policy concern. Does an equilibrium limit exist? The issue has been left open in recent dynamic models which take income growth and population aging as given. We view these variables as endogenously determined within an overlapping-generations, human-capital-based endogenous-growth model, where a representative parent makes all life-cycle consumption and investment decisions, and life and health protection are subject to diminishing returns. Our prototype model, allowing for both quantity and quality of life as desired goods, yields equilibrium upper bounds for SHS. Our calibrated simulations also account for observed trends in reproductive choices, population aging, life expectancy, and economic growth. The analysis offers new insights about factors that drive long-term trends in aging and health spending and establishes a direct relation between health investments at young age and the equilibrium, steady-state rate of economic growth.

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Covering the Remaining Uninsured Children: Almost Half of Uninsured Children Live in Immigrant Families

Eric Seiber
Medical Care, March 2014, Pages 202-207

Objective: Previous authors have answered “how many children in immigrant families are uninsured”; we do not know the inverse: “how many uninsured children live in immigrant families.” This paper will show the total contribution of having an immigrant parent to the uninsured rate for children in the United States.

Data Source: Secondary data from the 2008–2010 American Community Survey.

Study Design: Descriptive analyses and a multinomial probit model illustrate the relationship between immigration history and insurance status.

Principal Findings: In 2010, almost half (42%) of uninsured children lived in an immigrant family. State-level estimates range from a low of 4% in Maine to a high of 69% in California. Two thirds (69%) of these uninsured children are citizens; furthermore, 39% are Medicaid eligible, 39% are not eligible for Medicaid, and eligibility is unknown for the 21% that are low-income, noncitizens.

Conclusions: In 2000, a third of all uninsured children lived in immigrant families. In 2010, 42% of all uninsured children lived in immigrant families. Initiatives to expand coverage or increase Medicaid and CHIP uptake will require decision makers to develop new policy and outreach approaches to enroll these children so they do not fall further behind.

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Suicide and Organ Donors: Spillover Effects of Mental Health Insurance Mandates

Jose Fernandez & Matthew Lang
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper considers the effect of mental health insurance mandates on the supply of cadaveric donors. We find that enacting a mental health mandate decreases the count of organ donors from suicides and results are driven by female donors. Using a number of empirical specifications, we calculate that the mental health parity laws are responsible for an approximately 0.52% decrease in cadaveric donors. Additional regression results show that the mandates are not related to other types of organ donations, ruling out the possibility that the mandates are related to an overall trend in the supply of organ donations. The findings suggest that future policies aimed at reducing suicide in a large and significant way can potentially increase the inefficiency that currently exists in the organ donor market.

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Redistribution Under the ACA is Modest in Scope

Stan Dorn, Bowen Garrett & John Holahan
Urban Institute Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
Claims that the ACA involves "the largest income transfer in American history" are exaggerated. Low- and moderate-income people receive benefits equaling 0.9 percent of GDP, a fraction of spending on Medicare, Social Security, and tax preferences for employer-sponsored insurance. The affluent contribute just 0.2 percent of GPD, with taxes limited to 2.4 percent of tax-filers, who pay an average of 0.5 percent of income. Nearly three-quarters of ACA's funding comes, not from the wealthy, but from the health care industry, through reimbursement cuts or taxes and fees. However, these contributions are offset by new revenue from people gaining health insurance.

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Assessing Incentives for Service-Level Selection In Private Health Insurance Exchanges

Thomas McGuire et al.
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Even with open enrollment and mandated purchase, incentives created by adverse selection may undermine the efficiency of service offerings by plans in the new health insurance Exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. Using data on persons likely to participate in Exchanges drawn from five waves of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, we measure plan incentives in two ways. First, we construct predictive ratios, improving on current methods by taking into account the role of premiums in financing plans. Second, relying on an explicit model of plan profit maximization, we measure incentives based on the predictability and predictiveness of various medical diagnoses. Among the chronic diseases studied, plans have the greatest incentive to skimp on care for cancer, and mental health and substance abuse.

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How well does the U.S. Government provide health insurance for infants?

Manan Roy
Empirical Economics, February 2014, Pages 253-284

Abstract:
The debate over universal health insurance (HI) in the U.S., as well as the proper role of the government in the HI market, has been quite heated. Fueling this debate is the uncertainty pertaining to the benefits of HI in general, and the relative benefits of private versus public HI in particular. This uncertainty stems from non-random selection into different types of HI (private, public, or none) in combination with the absence of experimental data. Moreover, the lack of typical exclusion restrictions complicates identification of the causal effects of different HI types. Here, the aim is to assess the causal impact of public HI, relative to private HI, on the insured infant’s health. To that end, this study employs the methodology proposed in Altonji et al. (J Polit Econ 113:151–184, 2005) which trades off what can be learned in exchange for not requiring an exclusion restriction. Nonetheless, the method remains quite informative in the present context. Specifically, using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, Birth Cohort, along with several measures of infant health, the results suggest that while public HI is associated with worse infant health, this association disappears once selection on observables and unobservables is considered. In fact, the estimated effects of public HI are predominantly positive once both types of selection are admitted. Further analysis reveals that the likely beneficial effects of public HI are due to greater coverage for infants at a much lower cost.

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The Effect of Macroeconomic Conditions on the Care Decisions of the Employed

Danny Hughes & Amir Khaliq
Medical Care, February 2014, Pages 121-127

Background: Medical care utilization has been found to be affected indirectly by changes in economic conditions through associated changes in employment or insurance status. However, if individuals interpret external macroeconomic conditions as employment risk, they may alter decisions to seek care even if they remain both employed and insured.

Objective: To examine the relationship between macroeconomic fluctuations and the medical care usage of Americans who are both employed and insured.

Research Design: Restricting the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from 1995 to 2008 to respondents whose employment status and insurance status did not change, we employed a fixed-effect Poisson model to examine the association between state average annual unemployment rates and the utilization of 12 medical services.

Results: The average annual state unemployment rate was found to be a significant factor in hospital outpatient visits (P < 0.01) and emergency room visits (P < 0.01). A one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate was found to produce an additional 0.67 hospital outpatient visits and 0.14 emergency room visits.

Conclusions: State unemployment rates were found statistically significantly associated with several of the medical services studied, suggesting macroeconomic conditions are an important factor in the medical decisions of employed and insured individuals. Thus, policy changes that increase access among the unemployed or uninsured may mitigate this employment risk effect and create incentives that potentially alter the utilization decisions among those currently both employed and insured.

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Could a Website Really Have Doomed the Health Exchanges? Multiple Equilibria, Initial Conditions and the Construction of the Fine

Florian Scheuer & Kent Smetters
NBER Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
Public attention has focused on how the launch of the national health exchanges could impact the types of risks who initially enroll and thereby affect future premiums and enrollment. We introduce simple dynamics into a standard model of insurance under adverse selection to show that such “initial conditions” can indeed matter. When firms are price-takers, the market can converge to a Pareto-inferior “bad” equilibrium if there are at least three equilibria, which we suggest has empirical support. Strategic pricing eliminates Pareto dominated equilibria but requires common knowledge of preference and risk distributions. Changing the fine on non-participants from a fixed amount to a fraction of equilibrium prices increases the range of initial conditions consistent with reaching the “good” equilibrium while reducing the “badness” of the bad equilibrium — all without increasing the fine value in the good equilibrium. Allowing insurers to quickly change prices can encourage them to experiment with strategic pricing if market fundamentals are not perfectly known, increasing the chance of reaching the good equilibrium independently from initial conditions.

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Uninsured Veterans Who Will Need to Obtain Insurance Coverage Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Jack Tsai & Robert Rosenheck
American Journal of Public Health, March 2014, Pages e57-e62

Objectives: We examined the number and clinical needs of uninsured veterans, including those who will be eligible for the Medicaid expansion and health insurance exchanges in 2014.

Methods: We analyzed weighted data for 8710 veterans from the 2010 National Survey of Veterans, classifying it by veterans’ age, income, household size, and insurance status.

Results: Of 22 million veterans, about 7%, or more than 1.5 million, were uninsured and will need to obtain coverage by enrolling in US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care or the Medicaid expansion or by participating in the health insurance exchanges. Of those uninsured, 55%, or more than 800 000, are likely eligible for the Medicaid expansion if states implement it. Compared with veterans with any health coverage, those who were uninsured were younger and more likely to be single, Black, and low income and to have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Conclusions: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is likely to have a considerable impact on uninsured veterans, which may have implications for the VA, the Medicaid expansion, and the health insurance exchanges.

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Variation in Congenital Heart Surgery Costs Across Hospitals

Sara Pasquali et al.
Pediatrics, forthcoming

Background: A better understanding of costs associated with common and resource-intense conditions such as congenital heart disease has become increasingly important as children’s hospitals face growing pressure to both improve quality and reduce costs. We linked clinical information from a large registry with resource utilization data from an administrative data set to describe costs for common congenital cardiac operations and assess variation across hospitals.

Methods: Using linked data from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons and Pediatric Health Information Systems Databases (2006–2010), estimated costs/case for 9 operations of varying complexity were calculated. Between-hospital variation in cost and associated factors were assessed by using Bayesian methods, adjusting for important patient characteristics.

Results: Of 12 718 operations (27 hospitals) included, median cost/case increased with operation complexity (atrial septal defect repair, [$25 499] to Norwood operation, [$165 168]). Significant between-hospital variation (up to ninefold) in adjusted cost was observed across operations. Differences in length of stay (LOS) and complication rates explained an average of 28% of between-hospital cost variation. For the Norwood operation, high versus low cost hospitals had an average LOS of 50.8 vs 31.8 days and a major complication rate of 50% vs 25.3%. High volume hospitals had lower costs for the most complex operations.

Conclusions: This study establishes benchmarks for hospital costs for common congenital heart operations and demonstrates wide variability across hospitals related in part to differences in LOS and complication rates. These data may be useful in designing initiatives aimed at both improving quality of care and reducing cost.

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Relaxing Occupational Licensing Requirements: Analyzing Wages and Prices for a Medical Service

Morris Kleiner et al.
NBER Working Paper, February 2014

Abstract:
Occupational licensing laws have been relaxed in a large number of U.S. states to give nurse practitioners the ability to perform more tasks without the supervision of medical doctors. We investigate how these regulations may affect wages, employment, costs, and quality of providing certain types of medical services. We find that when only physicians are allowed to prescribe controlled substances that this is associated with a reduction in nurse practitioner wages, and increases in physician wages suggesting some substitution among these occupations. Furthermore, our estimates show that prescription restrictions lead to a reduction in hours worked by nurse practitioners and are associated with increases in physician hours worked. Our analysis of insurance claims data shows that the more rigid regulations increase the price of a well-child medical exam by 3 to 16 %. However, our analysis finds no evidence that the changes in regulatory policy are reflected in outcomes such as infant mortality rates or malpractice premiums. Overall, our results suggest that these more restrictive state licensing practices are associated with changes in wages and employment patterns, and also increase the costs of routine medical care, but do not seem to influence health care quality.

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Health information exchange among U.S. hospitals: Who's in, who's out, and why?

Julia Adler-Milstein & Ashish Jha
Healthcare, forthcoming

Background: A key goal of the 2009 HITECH Act is to ensure broad electronic exchange of clinical data among providers. We sought to assess whether current policy efforts, many of which are being developed by states, appear to be tackling key barriers to hospital participation in health information exchange (HIE).

Methods: We used the most recent national data from the American Hospital Association's IT Supplement to assess U.S. hospital participation in HIE and how participation varies by state. We then examined whether HIE is being pursued by all types of hospitals, or whether specific types of hospitals are not yet engaged. We focused on for-profit hospitals, those with smaller market share, and those in more competitive markets.

Results: We found that 30% of U.S. hospitals engaged in health information exchange with unaffiliated providers. There was large variation in state-level participation, with some states achieving more than 70% participation (Rhode Island, Delaware and Vermont) and others with minimal participation. In markets where exchange occurred, for-profit hospitals were far less likely to engage in HIE than non-profit hospitals (OR=0.17; p<0.001). Hospitals with a larger market share were more likely to engage in exchange (OR=2.05 for hospitals in the highest relative to the lowest quartile of market share; p<0.001), as were hospitals in less competitive markets (OR=2.15 for hospitals in the most relative to least concentrated market quartile; p=0.04).

Conclusions: Despite an uptick in hospital HIE participation since the start of HITECH, the majority of hospitals still do not engage in HIE and there is large state-to-state variation. Specific types of hospitals appear to feel that they are better off not engaging in HIE.

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Does Health Information Exchange Reduce Redundant Imaging? Evidence From Emergency Departments

Eric Lammers, Julia Adler-Milstein & Keith Kocher
Medical Care, March 2014, Pages 227-234

Background: Broad-based electronic health information exchange (HIE), in which patients' clinical data follow them between care delivery settings, is expected to produce large quality gains and cost savings. Although these benefits are assumed to result from reducing redundant care, there is limited supporting empirical evidence.

Objective: To evaluate whether HIE adoption is associated with decreases in repeat imaging in emergency departments (EDs).

Data Source/Study Setting: ED discharge data from the State Emergency Department Databases for California and Florida for 2007-2010 were merged with Health Information Management Systems Society data that report hospital HIE participation.

Methods: Using regression with ED fixed effects and trends, we performed a retrospective analysis of the impact of HIE participation on repeat imaging, comparing 37 EDs that initiated HIE participation during the study period to 410 EDs that did not participate in HIE during the same period. Within 3 common types of imaging tests [computed tomography (CT), ultrasound, and chest x-ray), we defined a repeat image for a given patient as the same study in the same body region performed within 30 days at unaffiliated EDs.

Results: In our sample there were 20,139 repeat CTs (representing 14.7% of those cases with CT in the index visit), 13,060 repeat ultrasounds (20.7% of ultrasound cases), and 29,703 repeat chest x-rays (19.5% of x-ray cases). HIE was associated with reduced probability of repeat ED imaging in all 3 modalities: -8.7 percentage points for CT [95% confidence interval (CI): -14.7, -2.7], -9.1 percentage points for ultrasound (95% CI: -17.2, -1.1), and -13.0 percentage points for chest x-ray (95% CI: -18.3, -7.7), reflecting reductions of 44%-67% relative to sample means.

Conclusions: HIE was associated with reduced repeat imaging in EDs. This study is among the first to find empirical support for this anticipated benefit of HIE.

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Challenges to Regulatory Decentralization: Lessons from State Health Technology Regulation

Jill Horwitz & Daniel Polsky
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Policymakers often prefer decentralized regulation to central planning because decentralization allows them to better reflect the views of local residents, encourage experimentation, and evaluate various regulatory approaches. These advantages can be undermined, however, when the regulations of one government are affected by those of another. To examine the implications of such externalities, we consider the case of state certificate of need laws (CON), which require providers within the state to obtain licenses before adopting various types of health care technology. In particular, we analyze the cross-border effects of these laws on the number and location of magnetic resonance imaging providers. We find a large effect on the location of providers near borders between unregulated and regulated states. These results provide examples of some of the limitations of using states as policy laboratories as well as the ability of states to use state laws to reflect their local preferences. The results may also help explain conflicting studies on whether and why CON regulation may have failed to control costs and quantity.

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The Association of Hospital Cost-Inefficiency With Certificate-of-Need Regulation

Michael Rosko & Ryan Mutter
Medical Care Research and Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Certificate-of-need (CON) regulations can promote hospital efficiency by reducing duplication of services; however, there are practical and theoretical reasons why they might be ineffective, and the empirical evidence generated has been mixed. This study compares the cost-inefficiency of urban, acute care hospitals in states with CON regulations against those in states without CON requirements. Stochastic frontier analysis was performed on pooled time-series, cross-sectional data from 1,552 hospitals in 37 states for the period 2005 to 2009 with controls for variations in hospital product mix, quality, and patient burden of illness. Average estimated cost-inefficiency was less in CON states (8.10%) than in non-CON states (12.46%). Results suggest that CON regulation may be an effective policy instrument in an era of a new medical arms race. However, broader analysis of the effects of CON regulation on efficiency, quality, access, prices, and innovation is needed before a policy recommendation can be made.

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Beyond Volume: Does Hospital Complexity Matter?: An Analysis of Inpatient Surgical Mortality in the United States

Marta McCrum et al.
Medical Care, March 2014, Pages 235-242

Background: Hospitals show wide variation in outcomes and systems of care. It is unclear whether hospital complexity — the range of services and technologies provided — affects outcomes and in what direction. We sought to determine whether complexity was associated with inpatient surgical mortality.

Methods: Using national Medicare data, we identified all fee-for-service inpatients who underwent 1 of 5 common high-risk surgical procedures in 2008–2009 and measured complexity by the number of unique primary diagnoses admitted to each hospital over the 2-year period. We calculated 30-day postoperative mortality rates, adjusting for patient and hospital characteristics, and used multivariable Poisson regression models to test for an association between hospital complexity and mortality rates. We then used this model to generate predicted mortality rates for low-volume and high-volume hospitals across the spectrum of hospital complexity.

Results: A total of 2691 hospitals were analyzed, representing a total of 382,372 admissions. After adjusting for hospital characteristics, including hospital volume, increasing hospital complexity was associated with lower surgical mortality rates. Patients receiving care at the hospitals in the lowest quintile of unique diagnoses had a 27% higher risk of death than those at the highest quintile. The effect of complexity was largest for low-volume hospitals, which were capable of achieving mortality rates similar to high-volume hospitals when in the most complex quintile.

Conclusions: Hospital complexity matters and is associated with lower surgical mortality rates, independent of hospital volume. The effect of complexity on outcomes for nonsurgical services warrants investigation.

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The Economic Crisis and Medical Care Use: Comparative Evidence from Five High-Income Countries

Annamaria Lusardi, Daniel Schneider & Peter Tufano
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objective: We examine how the economic crisis has affected individuals’ use of routine medical care and assess the extent to which the impact varies depending on national context.

Methods: Data from a new cross-national survey fielded in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, France, and Germany are used to estimate the effects of employment and wealth shocks and financial fragility on the use of routine care.

Results: We document reductions in individuals’ use of routine nonemergency medical care in the midst of the economic crisis. Americans reduced care more than individuals in Great Britain, Canada, France, and Germany. At the national level, reductions in care are related to the degree to which individuals must pay for it, and within countries, reductions are linked to shocks to wealth and employment and to financial fragility.

Conclusions: The economic crisis has led to reductions in the use of routine medical care, and systems of national insurance provide some protection against these effects.

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Has Massachusetts Health Care Reform Worked for the Working Poor? Results from an Analysis of Opportunity

Liane Tinsley, Susan Hall & John McKinlay
Annals of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Purpose: Health care reform was introduced in Massachusetts in 2006 and serves as a model for what was subsequently introduced nationally as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (1). The Boston Area Community Health (BACH) survey collected data before (2002-2005) and after (2006-2010) introduction of the Massachusetts health insurance mandate, providing a unique opportunity to assess its effects in a large, epidemiological cohort.

Methods: We report on the apparent effects of the mandate on the same participants over time, focusing specifically on the vulnerable working poor. We evaluated differences in subpopulations of interest at pre- and post-reform periods in order to explore whether Massachusetts health care reform resulted in an overall gain in insurance coverage.

Results: Massachusetts health care reform was associated with net gains in health insurance coverage overall and among the subgroups studied. Our findings suggest that despite being targeted by health care reform legislation, the working poor in Massachusetts continue to report lower rates of insurance coverage compared to both the non-working poor and the not poor.

Conclusions: Massachusetts health care reform legislation, including the expansion of Medicaid, resulted in substantial overall gains in coverage. Disparities in insurance coverage persist among some subgroups following health care reform implementation in Massachusetts. These results have important implications for health services researchers and policy makers, particularly in light of the ongoing implementation of the ACA.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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