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Friday, June 6, 2014

Corner office

Political connections and SEC enforcement

Maria Correia
Journal of Accounting and Economics, April–May 2014, Pages 241–262

Abstract:
In this study, I examine whether firms and executives with long-term political connections through contributions and lobbying incur lower costs from the enforcement actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). I find that politically connected firms on average are less likely to be involved in SEC enforcement actions and face lower penalties if they are prosecuted by the SEC. Contributions to politicians in a strong position to put pressure on the SEC are more effective than others at reducing the probability of enforcement and penalties imposed by an enforcement action. Moreover, the amounts paid to lobbyists with prior employment links to the SEC, and the amounts spent on lobbying the SEC directly, are more effective than other lobbying expenditures at reducing enforcement costs faced by firms.

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Tailspotting: Identifying and profiting from CEO vacation trips

David Yermack
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper shows connections between chief executive officers’ (CEOs’) absences from headquarters and corporate news disclosures. I identify CEO absences by merging records of corporate jet flights and CEOs’ property ownership near leisure destinations. CEOs travel to their vacation homes just after companies report favorable news, and CEOs return to headquarters right before subsequent news releases. When CEOs are away, companies announce less news, mandatory disclosures occur later, and stock volatility falls sharply. Volatility increases when CEOs return to work. CEOs spend fewer days out of the office when ownership is high and when weather is bad at their vacation homes.

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Class Action Lawsuits and Executive Stock Option Exercise

Daniel Bradley, Brandon Cline & Qin Lian
Journal of Corporate Finance, August 2014, Pages 157–172

Abstract:
In a large sample of shareholder initiated class action lawsuits from 1996 to 2011, we find a significant increase in informed insider option exercises during the class action period compared to the preceding quarter, and we find this change is positively related to the probability of litigation. The market reaction to the announcement of lawsuits is negatively related to abnormal informed option exercises, but positively related to suits that ultimately get dismissed. These results suggest that the market can at least partially anticipate the merits and severity of the class action suit. In subsequent analyses, we find CEO turnover is positively related to litigation, but not option exercises. Collectively, our results indicate that insiders knowingly trade on their private information.

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Throwing Caution to the Wind: The Effect of CEO Stock Option Pay on the Incidence of Product Safety Problems

Adam Wowak, Michael Mannor & Kaitlin Wowak
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Stock options are thought to align the interests of CEOs and shareholders, but scholars have shown that options sometimes lead to outcomes that run counter to what they are meant to achieve. Building on this research, we argue that options promote a lack of caution in CEOs that manifests in a higher incidence of product safety problems. We also posit that this relationship varies across CEOs, and that the effect of options will depend upon CEO characteristics such as tenure and founder status. Analyzing product recall data for a large sample of FDA-regulated companies, we find support for our theory.

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The Hidden Nature of Executive Retirement Pay

Robert Jackson & Colleen Honigsberg
Virginia Law Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
There are two competing theories of why public companies pay executives generous retirement benefits. One is that retirement pay is easier to hide from shareholders than other forms of compensation. The other is that retirement benefits align executives' interests with those of long-term creditors, since the executives may not receive their payouts if the firm goes bankrupt. The latter view depends on the assumption that retirement benefits put executives in a similar contractual position as the company's creditors. Yet no previous work has tested that assumption. This Article provides the first systematic study of the contractual structure of executive retirement payouts. Using retirement pay data for thousands of executives, we show that a large proportion of executives link the value of their payouts to the company's stock price and receive the bulk of these payouts immediately following their departure -- features that contradict the incentive-alignment theory of retirement pay. The evidence also shows that the full amount and structure of retirement pay are undisclosed -- findings consistent with the camouflage theory. While the structure of some executives' payouts can be reconciled with the incentive-alignment theory, current rules do not give investors the information they need to tell the difference between payouts that align incentives and those that camouflage compensation. Lawmakers should require companies to reveal the magnitude and structure of these payouts, and neither regulators nor commentators should assume that retirement benefits suppress top managers' appetite for risk.

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Do Managers Tacitly Collude to Withhold Industry-Wide Bad News?

Jonathan Rogers, Catherine Schrand & Sarah Zechman
University of Chicago Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
That managers would choose to withhold firm-specific bad news is not only intuitive, but supported by theory, observed disclosure patterns, and survey responses. When the bad news is industry wide, however, managers are subject to additional pressure to disclose. If any one firm chooses to disclose, traders infer signal arrival and capital market pressure will force withholding firms to disclose. In addition, the costs of being the second mover are greater for industry-wide news. However, if managers anticipate that the adverse news could improve or never materialize, they should prefer to withhold to avoid presumably costly stock return volatility. But withholding is only sustainable if all firms cooperate (“tacitly collude”). We document cases of increased intra-industry obfuscation in the annual 10-K, controlling for changes in fundamentals, consistent with intra-industry cooperation to withhold adverse news. Coordinated withholding is more likely in industries that are more likely to have large, correlated, negative shocks, industries with more significant equity incentives, and greater litigation risk and less likely in industries in which observable/public macro-economic data relevant to firm valuation is available. The results have implications for understanding when economic forces are sufficient to generate voluntary disclosure of industry-wide adverse news.

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D&O Insurance and IPO Performance: what can we learn from insurers?

Martin Boyer & Léa Stern
Journal of Financial Intermediation, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate whether a firm’s directors’ and officers’ liability insurance contract at the time of the IPO is related to insured firms’ first year post-IPO performance. We find that insurers charge a higher premium per dollar of coverage to protect the directors and officers of firms that will subsequently have poor first year post-IPO stock performance. A higher price of coverage is also associated with a higher post-IPO volatility and lower Sharpe ratio. Our results are robust to various econometric specifications and suggest that even when the high level of information asymmetry inherent to the IPO context prevails, insurers have information about the firms’ prospects that should be valuable to outside investors.

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Distracted directors: Does Board Busyness Hurt Shareholder Value?

Antonio Falato, Dalida Kadyrzhanova & Ugur Lel
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use the deaths of directors and chief executive officers as a natural experiment to generate exogenous variation in the time and resources available to independent directors at interlocked firms. The loss of such key co-employees is an attention shock because it increases the board committee workload only for some interlocked directors — the ‘treatment group.’ There is a negative stock market reaction to attention shocks only for treated director-interlocked firms. Interlocking directors’ busyness, the importance of their board roles, and their degree of independence magnify the treatment effect. Overall, directors’ busyness is detrimental to board monitoring quality and shareholder value.

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CEO Ideology as an Element of the Corporate Opportunity Structure for Social Activists

Forrest Briscoe, M.K. Chin & Donald Hambrick
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
In an effort to comprehend activism toward corporations, scholars have proposed the concept of corporate opportunity structure, or the attributes of individual firms that make them more (or less) attractive as activist targets. We theorize that the personal values of the firm's elite decision makers constitute a key element of this corporate opportunity structure. We specifically consider the political ideology, or conservatism vs. liberalism, of the company's CEO as a signal for employees who are considering the merits of engaging in activism. As an initial test of our theory, we examine the formation of LGBT employee activist groups in Fortune 500 companies in the period 1985-2005, during which the formation of such groups was generally perceived to be risky for participants. Using CEOs' records of political donations to measure their personal ideologies, we find strong evidence that the political liberalism of CEOs influences the likelihood of activism. We also find that CEOs' ideologies influence activism more strongly when CEOs are more powerful, when they oversee more conservative (i.e. less liberal) workplaces, and when the social movement is in the early phase of development. In supplemental analyses, we examine instances of recent CEO succession, showing that a new CEO's liberalism relative to the predecessor CEO especially heightens the likelihood of activism. Our theory and findings contribute to research on social movements, corporate stakeholders, and upper echelons. We identify promising future research opportunities in each of those areas.

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A Dynamic Process Model of Contentious Politics: Activist Targeting and Corporate Receptivity to Social Challenges

Mary-Hunter McDonnell, Brayden King & Sarah Soule
Georgetown University Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
This project explores whether and how corporations become more receptive to social activist challenges over time. Drawing from social movement theory, we suggest a dynamic process through which contentious interactions lead to increased receptivity. First, a company's prior responses to activist challenges shape the likelihood that it will be targeted by future activists. When firms are targeted, they respond defensively to these attacks by adopting strategic management devices that help them better manage social issues. Finally, these defensive devices empower independent monitors and increase corporate accountability, which in turn increases a firm's receptivity to future activist challenges. We test our theory using a unique longitudinal dataset that tracks contentious attacks and the adoption of social management devices among a population of 300 large firms from 1991-2009.

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Capital Gains Lock-In and Governance Choices

Stephen Dimmock et al.
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
Because of differences in accrued gains and investors’ tax-sensitivity, capital gains “lock-in” varies across mutual funds even for the same stock at the same time. Using this variation, we show that tax lock-in affects funds’ governance decisions. Higher tax lock-in decreases the likelihood a fund sells a stock prior to contentious votes, and increases the likelihood the fund votes against management. Consistent with tax motivations, these findings are concentrated among funds with tax-sensitive investors. High aggregate capital gains across funds holding a stock predicts a higher likelihood management loses a vote and a lower likelihood a contentious vote is proposed.

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Fee pressure and audit quality

Michael Ettredge, Elizabeth Emeigh Fuerherm & Chan Li
Accounting, Organizations and Society, May 2014, Pages 247–263

Abstract:
This study investigates the association of audit fee pressure with an inverse measure of audit quality, misstatements in audited data, during the recent recession. Fee pressure in a year is measured as the difference between benchmark “normal” audit fees and actual audit fees. We find fee pressure is positively and significantly associated with accounting misstatements in 2008, the center of the recession. Our results suggest that auditors made fee concessions to some clients in 2008, and that fee pressure was associated with reduced audit quality in that year.

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On the Importance of Golden Parachutes\

Eliezer Fich, Anh Tran & Ralph Walkling
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, December 2013, Pages 1717-1753

Abstract:
In acquisitions, target chief executive officers (CEOs) face a moral hazard: Any personal gain from the deal could be offset by the loss of the future compensation stream associated with their jobs. Larger, more important parachutes provide greater relief for these losses. To explicitly measure the moral hazard target CEOs face, we standardize the parachute payment by the expected value of their acquisition-induced lost compensation. We examine 851 acquisitions from 1999–2007, finding that more important parachutes benefit target shareholders through higher completion probabilities. Conversely, as parachute importance increases, target shareholders receive lower takeover premia, while acquirer shareholders capture additional rents from target shareholders.

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Do Going-Private Transactions Affect Plant Efficiency and Investment?

Sreedhar Bharath, Amy Dittmar & Jagadeesh Sivadasan
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine whether constraints on public firms affect firms' efficiency by testing if going private improves plant-level productivity relative to peer control groups. We find that, despite increases in productivity after going private, there is little evidence of efficiency gains relative to peer groups of plants constructed to control for industry, age, size, past productivity, and the endogeneity of the going-private decision. Going-private firms do extensively restructure their portfolio of plants, selling and closing plants more quickly than others. Our findings cast doubt on the view that public markets cause listed firms to operate plants less efficiently due to overinvestment but indicate that going private increases restructuring activity.

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CEO Duality and Firm Performance: Evidence from an Exogenous Shock to the Competitive Environment

Tina Yang & Shan Zhao
Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Regulators and governance activists are pressuring firms to abolish CEO duality (the Chief Executive Officer is also the Chairman of the Board). However, the literature provides mixed evidence on the relation between CEO duality and firm performance. Using the exogenous shock of the 1989 Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement, we find that duality firms outperform non-duality firms by 3-4% when their competitive environments change. Further, the performance difference is larger for firms with higher information costs and better corporate governance. Our results underscore the benefits of CEO duality in saving information costs and making speedy decisions.

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Corporate Governance and the Development of Manufacturing Enterprises in Nineteenth-Century Massachusetts

Eric Hilt
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the use of the corporate form among nineteenth-century manufacturing firms in Massachusetts, from newly collected data from 1875. An analysis of incorporation rates across industries reveals that corporations were formed at higher rates among industries in which firm size was larger. But conditional on firm size, the industries in which production was conducted in factories, rather than artisanal shops, saw more frequent use of the corporate form. On average, the ownership of the corporations was quite concentrated, with the directors holding 45 percent of the shares. However, the corporations whose shares were quoted on the Boston Stock Exchange were ‘widely held’ at rates comparable to modern American public companies. The production methods utilized in different industries also influenced firms’ ownership structures. In many early factories, steam power was combined with unskilled labor, and managers likely performed a complex supervisory role that was critical to the success of the firm. Consistent with the notion that monitoring management was especially important among such firms, corporations in industries that made greater use of steam power and unskilled labor had more concentrated ownership, higher levels of managerial ownership, and smaller boards of directors.

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How CEO Hubris Affects Corporate Social (Ir)responsibility

Yi Tang et al.
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Grounded in the upper echelons perspective and stakeholder theory, this study establishes a link between CEO hubris and corporate social responsibility (CSR). We first develop the theoretical argument that CEO hubris is negatively related to a firm's socially responsible activities but positively related to its socially irresponsible activities. We then explore the boundary conditions of hubris effects and how these relationships are moderated by resource dependence mechanisms. With a longitudinal dataset of S&P 1500 index firms for the period 2001–2010, we find that the relationship between CEO hubris and CSR is weakened when the firm depends more on stakeholders for resources, such as when its internal resource endowments are diminished as indicated by firm size and slack, and when the external market becomes more uncertain and competitive. The implications of our findings for upper echelons theory and the CSR research are discussed.

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Prior Client Performance and the Choice of Investment Bank Advisors in Corporate Acquisitions

Valeriy Sibilkov & John McConnell
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Contrary to earlier studies, we find that prior client performance is a significant determinant of the likelihood that an investment bank will be chosen as the advisor by future acquirers and of the changes through time in banks’ shares of the advisory business. Further, the changes in the market values of acquirers at the announcement of acquisition attempts are positively correlated with contemporaneous changes in the market values of their advisors. Two implications arise: (1) acquirers consider advisors’ prior client performance when choosing their advisors and (2) market forces work to align advisors’ and clients’ interests in the acquisition market.

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Short sales and class-action lawsuits

Benjamin Blau & Philip Tew
Journal of Financial Markets, forthcoming

Abstract:
Gande and Lewis (2009) show class-action lawsuit filings are anticipated by investors. In this paper, we examine short-selling activity surrounding lawsuit filings and find that short activity surges in the days before the filing. However, short-selling activity remains significantly high until a few days after the filing. We also find some evidence that both pre- and post-filing short activity can be used to predict the outcome of the filing. In particular, we find that, after controlling for a variety of firm-specific factors, short activity during the filing period increases the likelihood that the lawsuit eventually generates money for the plaintiff.

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Bonuses and managerial misbehavior

Caspar Siegert
European Economic Review, May 2014, Pages 93–105

Abstract:
Profit-based bonus payments have been criticised for encouraging managers to take excessively risky actions or to engage in other activities that are not in the firm׳s best interest. We show, however, that large bonuses may discourage managers from such misbehaviour, because they have more to lose in the event that misbehaviour is detected. Thus, large bonuses may be an optimal way for firms to control misbehaviour. Our finding sheds new light on recent proposals to regulate bonuses.

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Executive compensation: A general equilibrium perspective

Jean-Pierre Danthine & John Donaldson
Review of Economic Dynamics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the dynamic general equilibrium of an economy where risk averse shareholders delegate the management of the firm to risk averse managers. The optimal contract has two main components: an incentive component corresponding to a non-tradable equity position and a variable “salary” component indexed to the aggregate wage bill and to aggregate dividends. Tying a manager's compensation to the performance of her own firm ensures that her interests are aligned with the goals of firm owners and that maximizing the discounted sum of future dividends will be her objective. Linking managers' compensation to overall economic performance is also required to make sure that managers use the appropriate stochastic discount factor to value those future dividends. General equilibrium considerations thus provide a potential resolution of the “pay for luck” puzzle. We also demonstrate that one sided “relative performance evaluation” follows equally naturally when managers and shareholders are differentially risk averse.

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The Effect of Securities Litigation on External Financing

Don Autore et al.
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a comprehensive sample of securities litigation, we examine the effect of financial fraud on the subsequent use of external financing. We find that firms with a recent history of securities litigation, particularly more severe litigation, are less likely to seek external debt and equity financing. This negative relationship between prior litigation and external financing is stronger for firms with high information asymmetry. Furthermore, firms significantly reduce their investments in capital expenditures and research and development during the three years following a litigation filing. Thus, the reduction in the availability of external financing due to allegations of financial fraud can have a tangible impact upon the investment opportunities of the firm.

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Performance of acquirers of divested assets: Evidence from the U.S. software industry

Tomi Laamanen, Matthias Brauer & Olli Junna
Strategic Management Journal, June 2014, Pages 914–925

Abstract:
We provide a comparative analysis of acquirer returns in acquisitions of public firms, private firms, and divested assets. On the basis of a sample of 5,079 acquisitions by U.S. software industry companies during 1988–2008, we find that acquisitions of divested assets outperform acquisitions of privately held firms, which in turn outperform acquisitions of publicly held firms. While the higher returns for acquisitions of divested assets relative to stand-alone acquisition targets can be explained by market efficiency arguments, seller distress and improved asset fit further enhance the positive returns of acquirers of divested assets consistent with the relative bargaining power explanation. Finally, we find that the effects of these buyer bargaining advantages are mutually strengthening and that they also hold for longer-term acquirer performance.

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The implications of ineffective internal control and SOX 404 reporting for financial analysts

Sarah Clinton, Arianna Spina Pinello & Hollis Skaife
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
The mandatory reporting of firms’ internal control effectiveness continues to be debated by equity market participants, U.S. regulatory agencies and oversight committees. We investigate the implications of material weaknesses in internal control and SOX 404 required reporting of such for financial analysts because analysts are important intermediaries in the U.S. capital market and it is not known whether analysts’ forecasts or coverage decisions are affected by firms’ internal control problems or reporting, respectively. Results of our empirical tests indicate that analysts provide less accurate forecasts and there is greater forecast dispersion for firms with ineffective internal control. We also find that firms that disclose internal control problems have less analyst coverage and that analyst following declines after the material weakness in internal control is disclosed. The results are robust to controlling for potential self-selection bias and management earnings guidance. Our study documents the consequences of ineffective internal control for an important class of financial statement users and suggests the required reporting on the effectiveness of internal control is beneficial to understanding the properties of analysts’ forecasts.

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Advance Disclosure of Insider Trading

Stephen Lenkey
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a strategic rational expectations equilibrium framework, we show that forcing a well-informed insider to disclose her trades in advance tends to increase welfare for both the insider and less-informed outsiders. Advance disclosure generates price risk for the insider, and to mitigate this risk, the insider trades less aggressively on her private information. Consequently, outsiders face lower adverse selection costs, which improves risk sharing and increases welfare. The drop in trading aggressiveness also causes market efficiency to decline. Furthermore, pretrade disclosure encourages excessive risk taking but may either encourage or discourage managerial effort.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Expecting

Do highly educated women choose smaller families?

Moshe Hazan & Hosny Zoabi
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We present evidence that the cross-sectional relationship between fertility and women's education in the U.S. has recently become U-shaped. The number of hours women work has concurrently increased with their education. In our model, raising children and homemaking require parents’ time, which could be substituted by services such as childcare and housekeeping. By substituting their own time for market services to raise children and run their households, highly educated women are able to have more children and work longer hours. We find that the change in the relative cost of childcare accounts for the emergence of this new pattern.

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Race, Restrictive State Abortion Laws and Abortion Demand

Marshall Medoff
Review of Black Political Economy, June 2014, Pages 225-240

Abstract:
A disproportionately large number of abortions are performed on black and Hispanic women. This study empirically investigates whether restrictive state abortion laws differentially affect the abortion demand of white, black and Hispanic women for the year 2005. A state Medicaid abortion funding restriction significantly decreases the abortion rate of all three races. However, Hispanic women’s abortion demand is more sensitive to a Medicaid funding restriction than either white women or black women. Parental involvement laws and mandatory counseling laws have no significant impact on the abortion rates of the three racial groups. Two-visit laws are associated with a significant decrease in the abortion rate of white women, but have no significant effect on the abortion rates of black and Hispanic women.

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The Effects of Contraception on Female Poverty

Stephanie Browne & Sara LaLumia
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
Poverty rates are particularly high among households headed by single women, and childbirth is often the event preceding these households’ poverty spells. This paper examines the relationship between legal access to the birth control pill and female poverty. We rely on exogenous cross-state variation in the year in which oral contraception became legally available to young, single women. Using census data from 1960 to 1990, we find that having legal access to the birth control pill by age 20 significantly reduces the probability that a woman is subsequently in poverty. We estimate that early legal access to oral contraception reduces female poverty by 0.5 percentage points, even when controlling for completed education, employment status, and household composition.

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Welfare Reform and Immigrant Fertility

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, Susan Averett & Cynthia Bansak
San Diego State University Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
Immigration policy continues to be at the forefront of policy discussions, and the use of welfare benefits by immigrants has been hotly debated. In 1996, Congress enacted welfare reform legislation (PRWORA), which denied the use of most means-tested assistance to non-citizens and lowered immigrant welfare dramatically. While Federal legislation imposed strict restrictions on eligibility for non-citizens, a number of states allowed previously eligible women to continue to receive benefits similar to those before 1996, whereas others imposed the new Federal cutbacks. Using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) for the years 1994-2000, we examine whether immigrant women adjusted their childbearing in response to cutbacks in the generosity of welfare benefits at the state-level. Our findings suggest that non-citizen women, especially those of Hispanic origin, altered their fertility decisions in response to the legislation. In addition, they increased their labor force participation, possibly to obtain employer-sponsored benefits. Our results are robust to alternative definitions of our treatment and control groups and do not appear to be driven by pre-existing trends. Finally, we find no evidence that women who anticipated having children migrated to the more generous states. Overall, the results provide further evidence that immigrants respond to variation in state-level policies and provide insight into the potential impacts of comprehensive immigration reform, particularly the components related to the path to citizenship and access to public benefits.

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Dopamine Receptor Gene D4 Polymorphisms and Early Sexual Onset: Gender and Environmental Moderation in a Sample of African-American Youth

Steven Kogan et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: Early sexual onset and its consequences disproportionately affect African-American youth, particularly male youth. The dopamine receptor D4 gene (DRD4) has been linked to sexual activity and other forms of appetitive behavior, particularly for male youth and in combination with environmental factors (gene × environment [G × E] effects). The differential susceptibility perspective suggests that DRD4 may exert this effect by amplifying the effects of both positive and negative environments. We hypothesized that DRD4 status would amplify the influence of both positive and negative neighborhood environments on early sexual onset among male, but not female, African-Americans.

Methods: Hypotheses were tested with self-report, biospecimen, and census data from five prospective studies of male and female African-American youth in rural Georgia communities, N = 1,677. Early sexual onset was defined as intercourse before age 14.

Results: No significant G × E findings emerged for female youth. Male youth with a DRD4 long allele were more likely than those with two DRD4 short alleles to report early sexual onset in negative community environments and not to report early onset in positive community environments.

Conclusions: Dopaminergic regulation of adolescent sexual behaviors may operate differently by gender. DRD4 operated as an environmental amplification rather than a vulnerability factor.

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Does Fertility Behavior Spread among Friends?

Nicoletta Balbo & Nicola Barban
American Sociological Review, June 2014, Pages 412-431

Abstract:
By integrating insights from economic and sociological theories, this article investigates whether and through which mechanisms friends’ fertility behavior affects an individual’s transition to parenthood. By exploiting the survey design of the Add Health data, our strategy allows us to properly identify interaction effects and distinguish them from selection and contextual effects. We use a series of discrete-time event history models with random effects at the dyadic level. Results show that, net of confounding effects, a friend’s childbearing increases an individual’s risk of becoming a parent. We find a short-term, curvilinear effect: an individual’s risk of childbearing starts increasing after a friend’s childbearing, reaches its peak approximately two years later, and then decreases.

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Does the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Increase Fertility Behavior?

Colin Cannonier
Journal of Labor Research, June 2014, Pages 105-132

Abstract:
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), implemented in August 1993, grants job-protected leave to any employee satisfying the eligibility criteria. One of the provisions of the FMLA is to allow women to stay at home for a maximum period of 12 weeks to give care to the newborn. The effect of this legislation on the fertility response of eligible women has received little attention by researchers. This study analyzes whether the FMLA has influenced birth outcomes in the U.S. Specifically, I evaluate the effect of the FMLA by comparing the changes in the birth hazard profiles of women who became eligible for FMLA benefits such as maternity leave, to the changes in the control group who were not eligible for such leave. Using a discrete-time hazard model, results from the difference-in-differences estimation indicate that eligible women increase the probability of having a first and second birth by about 1.5 and 0.6 % per annum, respectively. Compared to other women, eligible women are giving birth to the first child a year earlier and about 8.5 months earlier for the second child.

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Understanding the Complexity of Ambivalence Toward Pregnancy: Does It Predict Inconsistent Use of Contraception?

Sam Hyun Yoo, Karen Benjamin Guzzo & Sarah Hayford
Biodemography and Social Biology, Spring 2014, Pages 49-66

Abstract:
Ambivalence towards future pregnancy is common and may increase the risk of unprotected sex and unintended pregnancy. We propose that ambivalent attitudes toward pregnancy consist of subtypes that are differentially associated with contraceptive use. Using data from a nationally representative survey of unmarried young adults (N = 1,147), we constructed four categories of ambivalence based on attitudes toward a hypothetical pregnancy. Multivariate analyses examined characteristics of ambivalence and the association between ambivalence and contraceptive use. Approximately one third of sexually active unmarried young adults are ambivalent about pregnancy. Having positive ambivalence (important to avoid a pregnancy but would be happy if it occurred) is associated with age, gender, education, and Hispanic origin. Although ambivalence toward pregnancy is associated with lower contraceptive use, this is true only among women with negative ambivalence (not important to avoid a pregnancy but would be unhappy if a pregnancy occurred). Attitudes toward pregnancy are multifaceted, and a more nuanced understanding of women’s attitudes toward pregnancy can help target prevention programs and related policies for women at risk of unintended pregnancy.

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Prenatal maternal stress predicts autism traits in 6½ year-old children: Project Ice Storm

Deborah Walder et al.
Psychiatry Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research implicates prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) as a risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders; however few studies report PNMS effects on autism risk in offspring. We examined, prospectively, the degree to which objective and subjective elements of PNMS explained variance in autism-like traits among offspring, and tested moderating effects of sex and PNMS timing in utero. Subjects were 89 (46F/43M) children who were in utero during the 1998 Quebec Ice Storm. Soon after the storm, mothers completed questionnaires on objective exposure and subjective distress, and completed the Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ) for their children at age 6½. ASSQ scores were higher among boys than girls. Greater objective and subjective PNMS predicted higher ASSQ independent of potential confounds. An objective-by-subjective interaction suggested that when subjective PNMS was high, objective PNMS had little effect; whereas when subjective PNMS was low, objective PNMS strongly affected ASSQ scores. A timing-by-objective stress interaction suggested objective stress significantly affected ASSQ in first-trimester exposed children, though less so with later exposure. The final regression explained 43% of variance in ASSQ scores; the main effect of sex and the sex-by-PNMS interactions were not significant. Findings may help elucidate neurodevelopmental origins of non-clinical autism-like traits, from a dimensional perspective.

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Maternal nutrition at conception modulates DNA methylation of human metastable epialleles

Paula Dominguez-Salas et al.
Nature Communications, April 2014

Abstract:
In experimental animals, maternal diet during the periconceptional period influences the establishment of DNA methylation at metastable epialleles in the offspring, with permanent phenotypic consequences. Pronounced naturally occurring seasonal differences in the diet of rural Gambian women allowed us to test this in humans. We show that significant seasonal variations in methyl-donor nutrient intake of mothers around the time of conception influence 13 relevant plasma biomarkers. The level of several of these maternal biomarkers predicts increased/decreased methylation at metastable epialleles in DNA extracted from lymphocytes and hair follicles in infants postnatally. Our results demonstrate that maternal nutritional status during early pregnancy causes persistent and systemic epigenetic changes at human metastable epialleles.

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Semen quality, infertility and mortality in the USA

Michael Eisenberg et al.
Human Reproduction, forthcoming

Study question: What is the relationship between semen parameters and mortality in men evaluated for infertility?

Study design, size, duration: A study cohort was identified from two centers, each specializing in infertility care. In California, we identified men with data from 1994 to 2011 in the Stanford Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility semen database. In Texas, we identified men with data from 1989 to 2009 contained in the andrology database at the Baylor College of Medicine Special Procedures Laboratory who were evaluated for infertility. Mortality was determined by data linkage to the National Death Index or Social Security Death Index. Comorbidity was estimated based on calculation of the Charlson Comorbidity Index or Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services-Hierarchical Condition Categories Model.

Main results and the role of chance: Compared with the general population, men evaluated for infertility had a lower risk of death with 69 deaths observed compared with 176.7 expected (Standardized mortality rate 0.39, 95% CI 0.30–0.49). When stratified by semen parameters, however, men with impaired semen parameters (i.e. male factor infertility) had significantly higher mortality rates compared with men with normal parameters (i.e. no male factor infertility). Low semen volume, sperm concentration, sperm motility, total sperm count and total motile sperm count were all associated with higher risk of death. In contrast, abnormal sperm morphology was not associated with mortality. While adjusting for current health status attenuated the association between semen parameters and mortality, men with two or more abnormal semen parameters still had a 2.3-fold higher risk of death compared with men with normal semen (95% CI 1.12–4.65).

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Maternal exposure to hurricane destruction and fetal mortality

Sammy Zahran et al.
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: The majority of research documenting the public health impacts of natural disasters focuses on the well-being of adults and their living children. Negative effects may also occur in the unborn, exposed to disaster stressors when critical organ systems are developing and when the consequences of exposure are large.

Methods: We exploit spatial and temporal variation in hurricane behaviour as a quasi-experimental design to assess whether fetal death is dose-responsive in the extent of hurricane damage. Data on births and fetal deaths are merged with Parish-level housing wreckage data. Fetal outcomes are regressed on housing wreckage adjusting for the maternal, fetal, placental and other risk factors. The average causal effect of maternal exposure to hurricane destruction is captured by difference-in-differences analyses.

Results: The adjusted odds of fetal death are 1.40 (1.07–1.83) and 2.37 (1.684–3.327) times higher in parishes suffering 10–50% and >50% wreckage to housing stock, respectively. For every 1% increase in the destruction of housing stock, we observe a 1.7% (1.1–2.4%) increase in fetal death. Of the 410 officially recorded fetal deaths in these parishes, between 117 and 205 may be attributable to hurricane destruction and postdisaster disorder. The estimated fetal death toll is 17.4–30.6% of the human death toll.

Conclusions: The destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita imposed significant measurable losses in terms of fetal death. Postdisaster migratory dynamics suggest that the reported effects of maternal exposure to hurricane destruction on fetal death may be conservative.

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Economic Uncertainty, Parental Selection, and the Criminal Activity of the 'Children of the Wall'

Arnaud Chevalier & Olivier Marie
University of London Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
We explore the link between parental selection and criminality of children in a new context. After the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, East Germany experienced a very large, but temporary, drop in birth rates mostly driven by economic uncertainty. We exploit this natural experiment in a differences-in-differences setup to first estimate that the children from these affected (smaller) cohorts are relatively much more likely to be criminally active. Using individual level data, we provide evidence that women who gave birth in at this period of uncertainty were negatively selected into fertility. Further investigation of the underlying mechanisms reveals that emotional attachment and intergenerational transmission of risk attitudes play important roles in the parental selection-crime of children relationship. Finally, results for siblings support a causal interpretation of our findings.

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Too old to have children? Lessons from natural fertility populations

Marinus Eijkemans et al.
Human Reproduction, June 2014, Pages 1304-1312

What is known already: The median age at last birth (ALB) for females is ∼40–41 years of age across a range of natural fertility populations. This suggests that there is a fairly universal pattern of age-related fertility decline. However, little is known about the distribution of female ALB and in the present era of modern birth control, it is impossible to assess the age-specific distribution of ALB. Reliable information is lacking that could benefit couples who envisage delaying childbearing.

Study design, size, duration: This study is a review of high-quality historical data sets of natural fertility populations in which the distributions of female age at last birth were analysed. The studies selected used a retrospective cohort design where women were followed as they age through their reproductive years.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: Using a common set of eligibility criteria, large data files of natural fertility populations were prepared such that the analysis could be performed in parallel across all populations. Data on the ALB and confounding variables are presented as box and whisker plots denoting the 5th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 95th percentile distribution of the age at last birth for each population. The analysis includes the estimation of Kaplan–Meier curves for age at last birth of each population. The hazard curve for ALB was obtained by plotting the smoothed hazard curve of each population and taking the lowest hazard within a time period of at least 5 years. This lowest hazard curve was then transformed into a cumulative distribution function representing the composite curve of the end of biological fertility. This curve was based on the data from three of the six populations, having the lowest hazards of end of fertility.

Main results and the role of chance: We selected six natural fertility populations comprising 58 051 eligible women. While these populations represent different historical time periods, the distribution of the ages at last birth is remarkably similar. The curve denoting the end of fertility indicates that <3% of women had their last birth at age 20 years meaning that almost 98% were able to have at least one child thereafter. The cumulative curve for the end of fertility slowly increases from 4.5% at age 25 years, 7% at age 30 years, 12% at age 35 years and 20% at age 38 years. Thereafter, it rises rapidly to about 50% at age 41, almost 90% at age 45 years and approaching 100% at age 50 years.

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Announcement effects of health policy reforms: Evidence from the abolition of Austria’s baby bonus

Beatrice Brunner & Andreas Kuhn
European Journal of Health Economics, May 2014, Pages 373-388

Abstract:
We analyze the short-run fertility and health effects resulting from the early announcement of the abolition of the Austrian baby bonus in January 1997. The abolition of the benefit was publicly announced about 10 months in advance, creating the opportunity for prospective parents to (re-)schedule conceptions accordingly. We find robust evidence that, within the month before the abolition, about 8% more children were born as a result of (re-)scheduling conceptions. At the same time, there is no evidence that mothers deliberately manipulated the date of birth through medical intervention. We also find a substantial and significant increase in the fraction of birth complications, but no evidence for any resulting adverse effects on newborns’ health.

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Does in utero Exposure to Illness Matter? The 1918 Influenza Epidemic in Taiwan as a Natural Experiment

Ming-Jen Lin & Elaine Liu
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
This paper tests whether in utero conditions affect long-run developmental outcomes using the 1918 influenza pandemic in Taiwan as a natural experiment. Combining several historical and current datasets, we find that cohorts in utero during the pandemic are shorter as children/adolescents and less educated compared to other birth cohorts. We also find that they are more likely to have serious health problems including kidney disease, circulatory and respiratory problems, and diabetes in old age. Despite possible positive selection on health outcomes due to high infant mortality rates during this period (18 percent), our paper finds a strong negative impact of in utero exposure to influenza.

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Universal coverage of IVF pays off

M.P. Vélez et al.
Human Reproduction, June 2014, Pages 1313-1319

Study question: What was the clinical and economic impact of universal coverage of IVF in Quebec, Canada, during the first calendar year of implementation of the public IVF programme?

Study design, size, duration: This prospective comparative cohort study involved 7364 IVF cycles performed in Quebec during 2009 and 2011 and included an economic analysis.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: IVF cycles performed in the five centres offering IVF treatment in Quebec during 2009, before implementation of the public IVF programme, were compared with cycles performed at the same centres during 2011, the first full calendar year following implementation of the programme. Data were obtained from the Canadian Assisted Reproductive Technologies Register (CARTR). Comparisons were made between the two periods in terms of utilization, pregnancy rates, multiple pregnancy rates and costs.

Main results and the role of chance: The number of IVF cycles performed in Quebec increased by 192% after the new policy was implemented. Elective single-embryo transfer was performed in 1.6% of the cycles during Period I (2009), and increased to 31.6% during Period II (2011) (P < 0.001). Although the clinical pregnancy rate per embryo transfer was lower in 2011 than in 2009 (24.9 versus 39.9%, P < 0.001), the multiple pregnancy rate was greatly reduced (6.4 versus 29.4%, P < 0.001). The public IVF programme increased government costs per IVF treatment cycle from CAD$3730 to CAD$4759. Despite increased costs per cycle, the efficiency defined by the cost per live birth, which factored in downstream health costs up to 1 year post delivery, decreased from CAD$49 517 to CAD$43 362 per baby conceived by either fresh and frozen cycles.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Emergent

Direct and Indirect Implications of Pathogen Prevalence for Scientific and Technological Innovation

Damian Murray
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, July 2014, Pages 971-985

Abstract:
Rates of scientific and technological innovation vary widely across cultures, but why? Given the previously documented effects of disease threat on cultural values and traits that inhibit innovation, this variation may be due, at least in part, to regional variation in the prevalence of disease-causing pathogens. Five country-level measures of innovation were used to investigate this hypothesis. Preliminary results revealed that pathogen prevalence was significantly associated with all five measures of innovation. Further analyses revealed that pathogen prevalence significantly predicted innovation when statistically controlling for other purported causes of cross-cultural variation in innovation, such as education, wealth, and population structure. Finally, mediational analyses revealed that the effect of disease prevalence on innovation was mediated by levels of collectivism and conformity. These results demonstrate that the previously documented impact of disease threat on cultural value systems may have downstream consequences for scientific and technological innovation.

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Measuring institutional quality in ancient Athens

Andreas Bergh & Carl Hampus Lyttkens
Journal of Institutional Economics, June 2014, Pages 279-310

Abstract:
We use the Economic Freedom Index to characterize the institutions of the Athenian city-state in the fourth century BCE. It has been shown that ancient Greece witnessed improved living conditions for an extended period of time. Athens in the fourth century appears to have fared particularly well. We find that economic freedom in ancient Athens is on level with the highest ranked modern economies such as Hong Kong and Singapore. With the exception of the position of women and slaves, Athens scores high in almost every dimension of economic freedom. Trade is probably highly important even by current standards. As studies of contemporary societies suggest that institutional quality is probably an important determinant of economic growth, it may also have been one factor in the relative material success of the Athenians.

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State Capacity and Long-Run Economic Performance

Mark Dincecco & Gabriel Katz
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We present new evidence about the long-run relationship between state capacity-the fiscal and administrative power of states-and economic performance. Our database is novel and spans 11 European countries and 4 centuries from the Old Regime to World War I. We argue that national governments undertook two political transformations over this period: fiscal centralisation and limited government. We find a significant direct relationship between fiscal centralisation and economic growth. Furthermore, we find that an increase in the state's capacity to extract greater tax revenues was one mechanism through which both political transformations improved economic performance. Our analysis shows systematic evidence that state capacity is an important determinant of long-run economic growth.

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Size and Dynastic Decline: The Principal-Agent Problem in Late Imperial China, 1700–1850

Tuan-Hwee Sng
Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper argues that China’s size was one reason behind its relative decline in the nineteenth century. A ruler governing a large country faces severe agency problems. Given his monitoring difficulties, his agents have strong incentives to extort the taxpayers. This forces him to keep taxes low to prevent revolts. Economic expansion could aggravate corruption and cause further fiscal weakening. To support the model’s predictions, I show that the Chinese state taxed and administered sparingly, especially in regions far from Beijing. Furthermore, its fiscal capacity contracted steadily during the prosperous eighteenth century, sowing the seeds for the nineteenth-century crises.

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American Exceptionalism as a Problem in Global History

Robert Allen
Journal of Economic History, June 2014, Pages 309-350

Abstract:
The causes of the United States’ exceptional economic performance are investigated by comparing American wages and prices with wages and prices in Great Britain, Egypt, and India. American industrialization in the nineteenth century required tariff protection since the country's comparative advantage lay in agriculture. After 1895 surging American productivity shifted the country's comparative advantage to manufacturing. Egypt and India could not have industrialized by following American policies since their wages were so low and their energy costs so high that the modern technology that was cost effective in Britain and the United States would not have paid in their circumstances.

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The Legacy of Historical Conflict: Evidence from Africa

Timothy Besley & Marta Reynal-Querol
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article exploits variation between and within countries to examine the legacy of recorded conflicts in Africa in the precolonial period between 1400 and 1700. There are three main findings. First, we show that historical conflict is correlated with a greater prevalence of postcolonial conflict. Second, historical conflict is correlated with lower levels of trust, a stronger sense of ethnic identity, and a weaker sense of national identity across countries. Third, historical conflict is negatively correlated with subsequent patterns of development looking at the pattern across grid cells within countries.

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Playing Favorites: How Shared Beliefs Shape the IMF's Lending Decisions

Stephen Nelson
International Organization, May 2014, Pages 297-328

Abstract:
International organizations (IOs) suffuse world politics, but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stands out as an unusually important IO. My research suggests that IMF lending is systematically biased. Preferential treatment is largely driven by the degree of similarity between beliefs held by IMF officials and key economic policy-makers in the borrowing country. This article describes the IMF's ideational culture as “neoliberal,” and assumes it to be stable during the observation window (1980–2000). The beliefs of top economic policy-makers in borrowing countries, however, vary in terms of their distance from IMF officials' beliefs. When fellow neoliberals control the top economic policy posts the distance between the means of the policy team's beliefs and the IMF narrows; consequently, IMF loans become less onerous, more generous, and less rigorously enforced. I gathered data on the number of conditions and the relative size of loans for 486 programs in the years between 1980 and 2000. I collected data on waivers, which allow countries that have missed binding conditions to continue to access funds, as an indicator for enforcement. I rely on indirect indicators, gleaned from a new data set that contains biographical details of more than 2,000 policy-makers in ninety developing countries, to construct a measure of the proportion of the top policy officials that are fellow neoliberals. The evidence from a battery of statistical tests reveals that as the proportion of neoliberals in the borrowing government increases, IMF deals get comparatively sweeter.

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The stained China miracle: Corruption, regulation, and firm performance

Ting Jiang & Huihua Nie
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Regional corruptness in China has a positive effect on the profitability of private firms, but not that of state-owned firms. A natural experiment of exogenous trade policy change suggests that corruption may help private firms circumvent government regulation.

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The Political Economy of Development in China and Vietnam

Edmund Malesky & Jonathan London
Annual Review of Political Science, 2014, Pages 395-419

Abstract:
Two theories predominate in discussions of why China and Vietnam have, over the past three decades, achieved such rapid economic growth. The first argues that their startling performance can be explained by economic factors associated with late industrialization. The second proposes that China and Vietnam represent novel models of political economic organization that need to be better studied and understood. In this essay we review the voluminous literature on the political economy of China and Vietnam, evaluating the critical debates over the economic benefits of decentralization, experimentation, and state-led development. Although the debate remains unsettled, analysis suggests that growth in the two countries was most robust during periods of state withdrawal from the economy and that current economic difficulties in both countries are now arising from the scale and character of the state's role in both economies.

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A History of Resistance to Privatization in Russia

Paul Castañeda Dower & Andrei Markevich
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the connection between privatization in post-communist Russia and a mass privatization reform in Imperial Russia, the 1906 Stolypin land reform. Specifically, we relate historical measures of conflicts associated with the Stolypin reform to contemporary views on whether the privatization of the 1990’s should be revised. These historical measures could influence contemporary views in two ways: first, differences in privatization-related conflicts in the past could have directly altered attitudes towards privatization in the 1990s and, second, these differences could merely reflect pre-determined dissimilarities in preferences. We first show that historical measures of resistance to privatization are associated with views that favor state ownership. One standard deviation increase in the historical resistance to privatization explains a quarter of the negative sentiment toward private property today. We also find that negative experiences with the Stolypin reform are associated with views on the procedural unfairness of modern privatization reforms, suggesting that pre-determined preferences can not fully explain the weight of history.

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Jurists, Clerics, and Merchants: The Rise of Learned Law in Medieval Europe and its Impact on Economic Growth

Hans-Bernd Schäfer & Alexander Wulf
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, June 2014, Pages 266–300

Abstract:
Between the years 1200 and 1600, economic development in Catholic Europe gained momentum. By the end of this period, per-capita income levels were well above the income levels in all other regions of the world. We relate this unique development to the resurrection of Roman law, the rise of canon law, and the establishment of law as a scholarly and scientific discipline taught in universities. We test two competing hypotheses on the impact of these processes on economic growth in medieval Europe. The first conjecture is that the spread of substantive Roman law was conducive to the rise of commerce and economic growth. The second and competing conjecture is that growth occurred not as a result of the reception of substantive Roman law but because of the rational, scientific, and systemic features of Roman and canon law and the training of jurists in the newly established universities (Verwissenschaftlichung). This gave the law throughout Europe an innovative flexibility, which also influenced merchant law (lex mercatoria), and customary law. Using data on the population of more than 200 European cities as a proxy for per-capita income, we find that an important impact for economic development was not primarily the content of Roman law, but the rise of law faculties in universities and the emergence of a legal method developed by glossators and commentators in their interpretation and systematization of the sources of Roman law (Corpus Juris Civilis, Digests) and canon law. The endeavor to extract general normative conclusions from these sources led to abstraction, methodology, and the rise of law as a scholarly discipline. Wherever law faculties were founded anywhere in Europe, jurists learned new legal concepts and skills that were unknown before and conducive for doing business.

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Labour productivity and human capital in the European maritime sector of the eighteenth century

Jelle Van Lottum & Jan Luiten Van Zanden
Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

Abstract:
Pre-modern growth was to a large extent dependent on processes of commercialization and specialization, based on cheap transport. Seminal interpretations of the process of economic growth before the Industrial Revolution have pointed to the strategic importance of the rise of the Atlantic economy and the growth of cities linked to this, but have not really explained why Europeans were so efficient in organizing large international networks of shipping and trade. Most studies concerning early modern shipping have focused on changes in ship design (capital investments) in explaining long-term performance of European shipping in the pre-1800 period; in this paper we argue that this is only part of the explanation. Human capital – the quality of the labour force employed on ships – mattered as well. We firstly demonstrate that levels of human capital on board European ships were relatively high, and secondly that there were powerful links between the level of labour productivity in shipping and the quality of the workforce. This suggests strongly that shipping was a ‘high tech’ industry not only employing high quality capital goods, but also, as a complementary input, high quality labour, which was required to operate the increasingly complex ships and their equipment.

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Was Weber Right? The Role of Urban Autonomy in Europe's Rise

David Stasavage
American Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do strong property rights institutions always help, or might they sometimes actually hinder development? Since Max Weber and before, scholars have claimed that the presence of politically autonomous cities, controlled by merchant oligarchies guaranteeing property rights, helped lead to Europe's rise. Yet others suggest that autonomous cities were a hindrance to growth because rule by merchant guilds resulted in restrictions that stifled innovation and trade. I present new evidence and a new interpretation that reconcile the two views of city autonomy. I show that politically autonomous cities initially had higher population growth rates than nonautonomous cities, but over time this situation reversed itself. My evidence also suggests why autonomous cities eventually disappeared as a form of political organization. Instead of military weakness, it may have been their political institutions that condemned them to become obsolete.

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Initial Endowments and Economic Reform in 27 Post-Socialist Countries

Ariel BenYishay & Pauline Grosjean
Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study explores how initial endowments at the start of transition have shaped reform outcomes and reform trajectories in 27 former communist countries in Europe and Central Asia. Countries of the former Russian Empire that had a large resources sector at the start of transition underperformed other countries in terms of the speed and the depth of economic reforms. The effect is particularly strong for privatization, enterprise restructuring and competition policy. Within country, Ottoman or Russian provinces that had a large natural resources sector in 1989 have a lower share of entrepreneurs and of small and medium sized enterprises today and also experience endemic corruption. Our results indicate that the propensity, or ability, of special interest groups to capture the reform process that would erode their rents were facilitated by the quality of institutions whose foundations go back centuries; and that the effects on the local economy are real.

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Indirect Rule and State Weakness in Africa: Sierra Leone in Comparative Perspective

Daron Acemoglu et al.
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
A fundamental problem for economic development is that most poor countries have ‘weak states’ which are incapable or unwilling to provide basic public goods such as law enforcement, order, education and infrastructure. In Africa this is often attributed to the persistence of ‘indirect rule’ from the colonial period. In this paper we discuss the ways in which a state constructed on the basis of indirect rule is weak and the mechanisms via which this has persisted since independence in Sierra Leone. We also present a hypothesis as to why the extent to which indirect rule has persisted varies greatly within Africa, linking it to the presence or the absence of large centralized pre-colonial polities within modern countries. Countries which had such a polity, such as Ghana and Uganda, tended to abolish indirect rule since it excessively empowered traditional rulers at the expense of post-colonial elites. Our argument provides a new mechanism which can explain the positive correlation between pre-colonial political centralization and modern public goods and development outcomes.

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Poverty and Crime: Evidence from Rainfall and Trade Shocks in India

Lakshmi Iyer & Petia Topalova
Harvard Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
Does poverty lead to crime? We shed light on this question using two independent and exogenous shocks to household income in rural India: the dramatic reduction in import tariffs in the early 1990s and rainfall variations. We find that trade shocks, previously shown to raise relative poverty, also increased the incidence of violent crimes and property crimes. The relationship between trade shocks and crime is similar to the observed relationship between rainfall shocks and crime. Our results thus identify a causal effect of poverty on crime. They also lend credence to a large literature on the effects of weather shocks on crime and conflict, which has usually assumed that the income channel is the most relevant one.

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Income and Population Growth

Markus Brueckner & Hannes Schwandt
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do populations grow as countries become richer? In this paper we estimate the effects on population growth of shocks to national income that are plausibly exogenous and unlikely to be driven by technological change. For a panel of over 139 countries spanning the period 1960-2007 we interact changes in international oil prices with countries’ average net-export shares of oil in GDP. Controlling for country and time fixed effects, we find that this measure of oil price induced income growth is positively associated with population growth. The IV estimates indicate that a one percentage point increase in GDP per capita growth over a ten year period increases countries’ population growth by around 0.1 percentage points. Further, we find that this population effect results from both a positive effect on fertility and a negative effect on infant and child mortality.

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On the Distributive Costs of Drug-Related Homicides

Nicolás Ajzenman, Sebastian Galiani & Enrique Seira
NBER Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
Reliable estimates of the effects of violence on economic outcomes are scarce. We exploit the manyfold increase in homicides in 2008-2011 in Mexico resulting from its war on organized drug traffickers to estimate the effect of drug-related homicides on house prices. We use an unusually rich dataset that provides national coverage on house prices and homicides and exploit within-municipality variations. We find that the impact of violence on housing prices is borne entirely by the poor sectors of the population. An increase in homicides equivalent to one standard deviation leads to a 3% decrease in the price of low-income housing. In spite of this large burden on the poor, the willingness to pay in order to reverse the increase in drug-related crime is not high. We estimate it to be approximately 0.1% of Mexico’s GDP.

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Does the Quality of Electricity Matter? Evidence from Rural India

Ujjayant Chakravorty, Martino Pelli & Beyza Ural Marchand
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper estimates the returns to household income due to improved access to electricity in rural India. We examine the effect of connecting a household to the grid and of the quality of electricity, defined as hours of daily supply. The analysis is based on two rounds of a representative panel of more than 10,000 households. We use the district-level density of transmission cables as instrument for the electrification status of the household. We find that a grid connection increases non-agricultural incomes of rural households by about 9 percent during the study period (1994-2005). However, a grid connection and a higher quality of electricity (in terms of fewer outages and more hours per day) increases non-agricultural incomes by about 28.6 percent in the same period.

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Entry, information, and financial development: A century of competition between French banks and notaries

Philip Hoffman, Gilles Postel-Vinay & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal
Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

Abstract:
Poorly developed financial markets are widely believed to block economic growth, because only modern financial intermediaries such as banks can mobilize large amounts of financial capital at low cost. This claim is supported by cross country regressions, but the regressions assume that credit intermediation is measured accurately before modern financial intermediaries arrive. If traditional intermediaries were mobilizing large amounts of financial capital before banks or other modern intermediaries appear, then the strength of the relationship between financial development and economic growth would be cast into doubt. Using an original panel data set from nineteenth-century France, we provide the first estimates of how much financial capital key traditional intermediaries (notaries) were mobilizing for an entire economy during its first century of economic growth, and we analyze the lending that the notaries made possible in French mortgage market. The amount of capital they mobilized turns out to be large. We then analyze the effect that financial deepening had on the notaries as banks spread and find that the banks’ and notaries’ services were in all likelihood complements. The implication is that the link between financial development and economic growth may therefore be weaker than is assumed.

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What is driving the 'African Growth Miracle'?

Margaret McMillan & Kenneth Harttgen
NBER Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
We show that much of Africa’s recent growth and poverty reduction can be traced to a substantive decline in the share of the labor force engaged in agriculture. This decline has been accompanied by a systematic increase in the productivity of the labor force, as it has moved from low productivity agriculture to higher productivity manufacturing and services. These declines have been more rapid in countries where the initial share of the labor force engaged in agriculture is the highest and where commodity price increases have been accompanied by improvements in the quality of governance.

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Income Shocks and HIV in Africa

Marshall Burke, Erick Gong & Kelly Jones
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine how variation in local economic conditions has shaped the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Using data from over 200,000 individuals across 19 countries, we match biomarker data on individuals’ serostatus to information on local rainfall shocks, a large source of income variation for rural households. We estimate infection rates in HIV-endemic rural areas increase by 11% for every recent drought, an effect that is statistically and economically significant. Income shocks explain up to 20% of variation in HIV prevalence across African countries, suggesting existing approaches to HIV prevention could be bolstered by helping households manage income risk better.

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Did China's Adoption of IFRS Attract More Foreign Institutional Investment?

Mark DeFond et al.
University of Southern California Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
We examine the impact of China’s IFRS adoption on foreign institutional investment. We find that foreign institutional investment does not increase after China’s IFRS adoption, and some evidence that it actually declines, particularly among firms with weaker incentives to credibly implement IFRS, or with greater ability to manipulate IFRS’s fair value provisions. We also find that the association between earnings and returns generally declines after IFRS adoption, consistent with reduced earnings quality. In addition, we find that foreign institutional investors’ returns decline after China’s IFRS adoption. Finally, the decline in foreign institutional investment is greater among investors from countries with weak institutions that have also adopted IFRS. Taken together, our evidence suggests that China’s weak institutional infrastructure impairs IFRS’s ability to improve financial reporting quality and increase foreign institutional investment.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Swayed

Seeing Stars: Matthew Effects and Status Bias in Major League Baseball Umpiring

Jerry Kim & Brayden King
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper tests the assumption that evaluators are biased to positively evaluate high-status individuals, irrespective of quality. Using unique data from Major League Baseball umpires' evaluation of pitch quality, which allow us to observe the difference in a pitch's objective quality and in its perceived quality as judged by the umpire, we show that umpires are more likely to overrecognize quality by expanding the strike zone, and less likely to underrecognize quality by missing pitches in the strike zone for high-status pitchers. Ambiguity and the pitcher's reputation as a “control pitcher” moderate the effect of status on umpire judgment. Furthermore, we show that umpire errors resulting from status bias lead to actual performance differences for the pitcher and team.

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Napoleon Complex: Height Bias Among National Basketball Association Referees

Paul Gift & Ryan Rodenberg
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Given the vast number of observations in a transparent environment, the interaction between players and referees in the National Basketball Association (NBA) provides a real-world laboratory that allows for observation and testing of implicit height-based biases (the so-called “Napoleon Complex”). Controlling for a plethora of referee-specific characteristics and including 4,463 regular season games from 2008 to 2012, we find that (i) more personal fouls are called when a relatively shorter three-person officiating crew is working and (ii) no more or fewer fouls are called when games involve relatively taller players. Such biases are probably not large enough to impact game outcomes but could affect gambling markets. Our findings support the conclusion that relatively shorter NBA referees officiate basketball games differently than their taller peers. The analysis spotlights an oft-suggested but rarely studied bias in a workplace where employees are heavily scrutinized and monitored.

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Chaos and Decision Making: Contextual Disorder Reduces Confirmatory Information Processing

Julia Niedernhuber, Andreas Kastenmueller & Peter Fischer
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, May/June 2014, Pages 199-208

Abstract:
When making decisions, individuals tend to systematically prefer information that supports their a priori views over information that conflicts with them. This phenomenon is known as confirmatory information processing. The present research investigated whether contextual disorder — a factor that is typically irrelevant to a given decision case yet can significantly influence decision quality — affects confirmatory information processing. In Study 1, decision makers in untidy environments evinced less confirmatory information processing than decision makers in tidy environments. Study 2 replicated this finding and demonstrated that divergent thinking is an important precondition of the relationship between disorder and confirmatory information processing.

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From Fighting the System to Embracing It: Control Loss Promotes System Justification Among Those High in Psychological Reactance

Clinton Knight, Stephanie Tobin & Matthew Hornsey
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2014, Pages 139–146

Abstract:
One way to restore a sense of control is to system justify. Individuals high in trait reactance are particularly motivated to regain a sense of control in the face of freedom loss. But will high-reactance individuals system justify to restore control, given that they typically oppose authority? Based on the Compensatory Control Model (CCM), we propose that high-reactance individuals’ motivation to compensate for control loss will, at times, overcome this aversion to authority and lead to increased system justification. In Study 1, high-reactance American participants were shown to hold stronger oppositional attitudes toward government authority (i.e., they showed reduced system justification). In Studies 2–4, only high-reactance participants increased their support of government when personal control was reduced. Thus, for high-reactance individuals, the need for control compensation overpowers the need to hold anti-authority attitudes. Outcomes support a CCM account of control compensation for those high (not low) in trait reactance.

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When Suspicious Minds Go Political: Distrusting and Justifying the System at the Same Time

Dmitrij Agroskin, Eva Jonas & Eva Traut-Mattausch
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing on the sensitivity to mean intentions model, we hypothesized that sensitivity to injustice from a victim's perspective (victim sensitivity) is negatively related to the acceptance of political reforms due to an inclination to attribute ulterior motives to policy makers. In Study 1 with a Canadian sample, initial evidence for this mediational model was obtained, as victim sensitivity uniquely predicted distrust of policy makers through general trait suspiciousness. In Study 2, victim-sensitive Austrians and Germans ascribed sinister motives to initiators of an economic reform when contextual cues of initiators' untrustworthiness were given. This situational suspiciousness led them to subsequently oppose this particular reform, and it even generalized to the whole economic system by reducing economic-system justification. However, in both studies, mutually suppressive tendencies toward both opposing and justifying the system occurred. This suggests that victim-sensitive individuals may be torn between distrusting and endorsing the system because it can not only victimize but also promote a sense of security from victimization by conferring order.

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The (perceived) meaning of spontaneous thoughts

Carey Morewedge, Colleen Giblin & Michael Norton
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Spontaneous thoughts, the output of a broad category of uncontrolled and inaccessible higher order mental processes, arise frequently in everyday life. The seeming randomness by which spontaneous thoughts arise might give people good reason to dismiss them as meaningless. We suggest that it is precisely the lack of control over and access to the processes by which they arise that leads people to perceive spontaneous thoughts as revealing meaningful self-insight. Consequently, spontaneous thoughts potently influence judgment. A series of experiments provides evidence supporting two hypotheses. First, we hypothesize that the more a thought is perceived to be spontaneous, the more it is perceived to provide meaningful self-insight. Participants perceived more spontaneous kinds of thought (e.g., intuition) to reveal greater self-insight than did more controlled kinds of thought in Study 1 (e.g., deliberation). In Studies 2 and 3, participants perceived thoughts with the same content and target to reveal greater self-insight when spontaneously rather than deliberately generated (i.e., childhood memories and impressions formed). Second, we hypothesize that the greater self-insight attributed to thoughts that are (perceived to be) spontaneous leads those thoughts to more potently influence judgment. Participants felt more sexually attracted to an attractive person whom they thought of spontaneously than deliberately in Study 4, and reported their commitment to a current romantic relationship would be more affected by the spontaneous rather than deliberate recollection of a good or bad experience with their romantic partner in Study 5.

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Older adults catch up to younger adults on a learning and memory task that involves collaborative social interaction

B.J. Derksen et al.
Memory, forthcoming

Abstract:
Learning and memory abilities tend to decline as people age. The current study examines the question of whether a learning situation that emphasises collaborative social interaction might help older persons overcome age-related learning and memory changes and thus perform similarly to younger persons. Younger and Older participants (n = 34 in each group) completed the Barrier Task (BT), a game-like social interaction where partners work together to develop labels for a set of abstract tangrams. Participants were also administered standard clinical neuropsychological measures of memory, on which the Older group showed expected inferiority to the Younger group. On the BT, the Older group performed less well than the Younger group early on, but as the task progressed, the performance of the Older group caught up and became statistically indistinguishable from that of the Younger group. These results can be taken to suggest that a learning milieu characterised by collaborative social interaction can attenuate some of the typical memory disadvantages associated with being older.

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Drinking Your Own Kool-Aid: The Role of Beliefs, Belief-Revision, and Meetings in Persuasion

Jeremiah Bentley & Robert Bloomfield
Cornell Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
Using a laboratory cheap-talk game, modified to require reporters to make and communicate subjective beliefs, we find that reporters are more persuasive when they sincerely believe their report, but only when they meet with the user. Reporters who meet are also more effective if they revise their beliefs to conform to their report. The results support von Hippel and Trivers’ [2011] theory that self-deception is widespread partly because it helps people deceive others. The results also underscore the importance of institutions that force reporters to explain and defend their reports.

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The impact of middle names: Middle name initials enhance evaluations of intellectual performance

Wijnand van Tilburg & Eric Igou
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Middle name initials often appear in formal contexts, especially when people refer to intellectual achievements. On the basis of this common link, the display of middle initials increases positive evaluations of people's intellectual capacities and achievements. We document this effect in seven studies: Middle initials in authors' names increased the evaluation of their writing performance (Study 1), and middle initials increased perceptions of status (Studies 2 and 4). Moreover, the middle initials effect was specific to intellectual performance (Studies 3 and 6), and it was mediated by perceived status (Studies 5–7). Besides supporting our hypotheses, the results of these studies yield important implication for everyday life.

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Buyer beware of your shadow: How price moderates the effect of incidental similarity on buyer behavior

Luke Kachersky et al.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using both a lab experiment and actual transaction data, we investigated whether and how incidental similarities (e.g., shared letters between buyer and seller's name) might influence buyer behavior. Particularly, while prior work suggests that consumers generally prefer incidental similarity, we use the context of Internet auctions to show that this preference reverses when prices are high. Under these conditions, buyers avoid incidentally similar sellers. We speculate that this effect is tied to individuals' motive to self-protect. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

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Source Credibility and Persuasion: The Role of Message Position in Self-Validation

Jason Clark & Abigail Evans
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Highly credible communicators have been found to elicit greater confidence and attitudes that are based more on recipients’ thoughts (i.e., self-validation) compared with non-credible sources. However, source credibility may produce different effects on thought confidence and persuasion depending on the position of an advocacy. When messages are proattitudinal, credible sources should initiate self-validation because recipients may be motivated to confirm (bolster) their existing views. Conversely, when appeals are counterattitudinal, recipients may be motivated to defend their opinions and disconfirm information. In these contexts, greater self-validation may emerge when a communicator lacks rather than possesses credibility. When a message was counterattitudinal and contained weak arguments, evidence of self-validation was found with low source credibility (Studies 1 and 2) and among participants high in defense motivation (Study 2). In response to strong, proattitudinal arguments, findings were consistent with high credibility producing self-validation when bolstering motivation was high (Study 3).

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Fool Me Twice: The Consequences of Reading (and Rereading) Inaccurate Information

Matthew Jacovina, Scott Hinze & David Rapp
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Readers frequently encounter inaccuracies in texts that contradict what they should know to be true. The current project examined readers' moment-by-moment processing of inaccuracies and whether any difficulty with such material is reduced when readers are already familiar with accurate versions of that content. In two experiments, participants read stories that either accurately or inaccurately described the outcome of a well-known historic event. Preceding story contexts supported accurate outcomes or introduced suspense to create uncertainty about outcome likelihoods. During initial readings, participants took longer to read inaccurate than accurate outcomes. But this difficulty was substantially reduced when suspenseful contexts called into question the likelihood of well-known outcomes. Similar reading patterns emerged when participants read the exact same material after week-long and 5-minute delays. These results indicate that biasing contexts can influence readers' processing of inaccuracies for even familiar events. Rereading proves insufficient for encouraging reliance on accurate prior knowledge.

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How “outsider” do we like our art?: Influence of artist background on perceptions of warmth, creativity, and likeability

Arielle White, James Kaufman & Matt Riggs
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, May 2014, Pages 144-151

Abstract:
What influences our perception of art? Past aesthetics research has covered such variables as theme (e.g., positive, negative), style (e.g., surreal, abstract), and level (e.g., artist eminence). Less research has examined the background of the artist. In this study, 314 participants blind to artist type rated paintings by five different groups of artists (outsider artists: average-deviant artists, prison inmates, serial killers, and nonoutsider artists: average-regular artists and eminent creators) on the following three dimensions: warmth, creativity, and likability. “Average-deviant” artists were rated the highest on all three dimensions, and serial killer artists received the lowest ratings on all three dimensions, suggesting that some element of an artist’s background may impact how their work is perceived.

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The influence of regulatory focus and group vs. individual goals on the evaluation bias in the context of group decision making

Kai Sassenberg, Florian Landkammer & Johann Jacoby
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2014, Pages 153–164

Abstract:
Making good decisions as a group requires the consideration of information exchanged during a discussion, but individuals’ evaluation bias (i.e., discounting of information contradicting and appreciation of information supporting members’ initial preference) works against that. The current research studied motivational preconditions of this bias. It was predicted that pursuing individual goals (e.g., making a good impression or a good decision as an individual after a group discussion) in a prevention focus leads to a stronger evaluation bias than pursuing the same type of goals in a promotion focus or pursuing the goal to perform well as a group with either a promotion or a prevention focus. Four experiments supported this prediction and demonstrated that the evaluation bias is indeed associated with lower memory for critical information and lower decision quality. Hence, group goals are crucial for group decision performance – in particular in contexts inducing a prevention focus (e.g., when security is at stake).

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Stress-induced cortisol secretion impairs detection performance in x-ray baggage screening for hidden weapons by screening novices

Livia Thomas et al.
Psychophysiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Aviation security strongly depends on screeners' performance in the detection of threat objects in x-ray images of passenger bags. We examined for the first time the effects of stress and stress-induced cortisol increases on detection performance of hidden weapons in an x-ray baggage screening task. We randomly assigned 48 participants either to a stress or a nonstress group. The stress group was exposed to a standardized psychosocial stress test (TSST). Before and after stress/nonstress, participants had to detect threat objects in a computer-based object recognition test (X-ray ORT). We repeatedly measured salivary cortisol and X-ray ORT performance before and after stress/nonstress. Cortisol increases in reaction to psychosocial stress induction but not to nonstress independently impaired x-ray detection performance. Our results suggest that stress-induced cortisol increases at peak reactivity impair x-ray screening performance.

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The bias in the bias: Comparative optimism as a function of event social undesirability

Steven Sweldens et al.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, July 2014, Pages 229–244

Abstract:
We present a new event-level predictor of comparative optimism: comparative optimism is larger for more socially undesirable events. A meta-analysis shows that event social undesirability predicts comparative optimism effect sizes reported in the literature, over and above the effects of other known predictors. Four experiments corroborate this finding and demonstrate the key role played by respondents’ impression management motives. The effect of social undesirability decreases with stronger than usual anonymity assurances, increases with greater impression management tendencies, and reverses when people want to make a negative impression. Because social undesirability is correlated to other known predictors of comparative optimism (e.g., controllability, severity), it is important to take its effects into account when assessing the effect of other event characteristics. The current research adds to, and bridges, the literatures on event-level predictors and impression management in comparative optimism.

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Explaining the alluring influence of neuroscience information on scientific reasoning

Rebecca Rhodes, Fernando Rodriguez & Priti Shah
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous studies have investigated the influence of neuroscience information or images on ratings of scientific evidence quality but have yielded mixed results. We examined the influence of neuroscience information on evaluations of flawed scientific studies after taking into account individual differences in scientific reasoning skills, thinking dispositions, and prior beliefs about a claim. We found that neuroscience information, even though irrelevant, made people believe they had a better understanding of the mechanism underlying a behavioral phenomenon. Neuroscience information had a smaller effect on ratings of article quality and scientist quality. Our study suggests that neuroscience information may provide an illusion of explanatory depth.

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C'est le Ton Qui Fait la Critique — for the powerful: The effects of feedback framing and power on affective reactions

Jana Niemann et al.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although negative feedback is usually provided with the best of intentions, it often causes unfavorable affective reactions in the receiver such as anger and shame. The purpose of the present research is to identify factors that may attenuate or intensify these reactions to negative feedback. We argue and show across a laboratory experiment and a field study that feedback framing may affect feelings of anger and shame, but only for high (vs. low) power individuals. Given the prevalence of power differences in many feedback situations (e.g., in the organizational context), our findings may provide valuable information for the successful provision of negative feedback.

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Forewarning Reduces Fraud Susceptibility in Vulnerable Consumers

Susanne Scheibe et al.
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, May/June 2014, Pages 272-279

Abstract:
Telemarketing fraud is pervasive, and older consumers are disproportionally targeted. We conducted a field experiment to test whether forewarning could protect people who were victimized in the past. A telemarketer pitched a mock scam 2 or 4 weeks after participants were warned about the same scam or an entirely different scam. Both warnings reduced unequivocal acceptance of the mock scam although outright refusals (as opposed to expressions of skepticism) were more frequent with the same scam warning than the different scam warning. The same scam warning, but not the different scam warning, lost effectiveness over time.

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The effect of compliments on customers’ compliance with a food server's suggestion

Céline Jacob & Nicolas Guéguen
International Journal of Hospitality Management, July 2014, Pages 59–61

Abstract:
Research has shown that compliments addressed to customers by an employee have a positive influence on the customers’ tipping behavior. In this study, we examined whether compliments also enhanced patrons’ compliance with a food server's suggestion. First, a restaurant waitress took the customers’ order for the main course. Then, in the ingratiation condition, the waitress complimented the customer for his/her choice while in the no-compliment condition, she did not give any compliment. Finally, the waitress suggested a dessert to the patron. Results showed that the dessert suggestion was more readily followed in the compliment condition.

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One and Done? Optimal Decisions From Very Few Samples

Edward Vul et al.
Cognitive Science, May/June 2014, Pages 599–637

Abstract:
In many learning or inference tasks human behavior approximates that of a Bayesian ideal observer, suggesting that, at some level, cognition can be described as Bayesian inference. However, a number of findings have highlighted an intriguing mismatch between human behavior and standard assumptions about optimality: People often appear to make decisions based on just one or a few samples from the appropriate posterior probability distribution, rather than using the full distribution. Although sampling-based approximations are a common way to implement Bayesian inference, the very limited numbers of samples often used by humans seem insufficient to approximate the required probability distributions very accurately. Here, we consider this discrepancy in the broader framework of statistical decision theory, and ask: If people are making decisions based on samples — but as samples are costly — how many samples should people use to optimize their total expected or worst-case reward over a large number of decisions? We find that under reasonable assumptions about the time costs of sampling, making many quick but locally suboptimal decisions based on very few samples may be the globally optimal strategy over long periods. These results help to reconcile a large body of work showing sampling-based or probability matching behavior with the hypothesis that human cognition can be understood in Bayesian terms, and they suggest promising future directions for studies of resource-constrained cognition.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mi casa es su casa

On the Precipice of a “Majority-Minority” America: Perceived Status Threat From the Racial Demographic Shift Affects White Americans’ Political Ideology

Maureen Craig & Jennifer Richeson
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The U.S. Census Bureau projects that racial minority groups will make up a majority of the U.S. national population in 2042, effectively creating a so-called majority-minority nation. In four experiments, we explored how salience of such racial demographic shifts affects White Americans’ political-party leanings and expressed political ideology. Study 1 revealed that making California’s majority-minority shift salient led politically unaffiliated White Americans to lean more toward the Republican Party and express greater political conservatism. Studies 2, 3a, and 3b revealed that making the changing national racial demographics salient led White Americans (regardless of political affiliation) to endorse conservative policy positions more strongly. Moreover, the results implicate group-status threat as the mechanism underlying these effects. Taken together, this work suggests that the increasing diversity of the nation may engender a widening partisan divide.

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Distributive Justice for Others, Collective Angst, and Support for Exclusion of Immigrants

Todd Lucas et al.
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Harsh treatment of others can reflect an underlying motivation to view the world as fair and just and also a dispositional tendency to believe in justice. However, there is a critical need to refine and expand existing knowledge, not only to identify underlying psychological processes but also to better understand how justice may be implicated in support for exclusionary policies. Across two studies, we show that support for policies that restrict immigrants is exclusively associated with thoughts about fair outcomes for other people (distributive justice for others). In Study 1, Americans' dispositional tendency to believe in distributive justice for others was associated with greater support for a policy proposing to further restrict immigrant job seekers' capacity to gain employment in the United States. In Study 2, we experimentally primed thoughts about justice in a sample of U.S. police officers. Support for a policy that mandated stricter policing of illegal immigration was strongest among officers who first thought about fair outcomes for other people, relative to other unique justice primes. Across both studies, distributive justice for others was associated with greater collective angst — perceived threat towards the future existence of Americans. Moreover, collective angst mediated the link between distributive justice for others and support for restrictive policies. Overall, this research suggests that thoughts about distributive justice for others can especially diminish compassion towards immigrants and other underprivileged groups via support for exclusionary policies. In addition, merely thinking about distributive justice for others may be sufficient to amplify social callousness.

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Gender and Race Heterogeneity: The Impact of Students with Limited English on Native Students' Performance

Timothy Diette & Ruth Uwaifo Oyelere
American Economic Review, May 2014, Pages 412-417

Abstract:
Recent evidence suggests that exposure to a larger share of Limited English (LE) students is associated with a slight decline in performance for students at the top of the achievement distribution. In this paper we explore whether LE peer effects differ by gender and race. Utilizing school-by-year fixed effect methods that allow us to address possible endogeneity with respect to the schools students attend, we find evidence of heterogeneous peer effects of LE students on natives. Specifically, we find no LE student peer effects on females' achievement in math and reading but significant negative effects on males and black students.

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Latino Immigrant Acculturation and Crime

Lorna Alvarez-Rivera, Matt Nobles & Kim Lersch
American Journal of Criminal Justice, June 2014, Pages 315-330

Abstract:
Recent debate on the future of immigration policy in the United States has spawned much discussion on social costs and consequences for immigrants, such as employment, education, health care, and most notably, crime. Although recent Latino immigrants are often portrayed as outsiders in popular media, their successful acculturation into the American way of life may present more crime-related risk rather than less. This study examines arrest records for Latinos in two southwestern American cities to determine the extent to which Latino acculturation is related to arrests and convictions for both misdemeanors and felonies after controlling for certain legal and extra-legal factors. Results indicate that acculturation is consistently and positively associated with all four crime-related outcomes in this sample. Implications for policy and future research are discussed.

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Foreign STEM Workers and Native Wages and Employment in U.S. Cities

Giovanni Peri, Kevin Shih & Chad Sparber
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
Scientists, Technology professionals, Engineers, and Mathematicians (STEM workers) are fundamental inputs in scientific innovation and technological adoption, the main drivers of productivity growth in the U.S. In this paper we identify the effect of STEM worker growth on the wages and employment of college and non-college educated native workers in 219 U.S. cities from 1990 to 2010. In order to identify a supply-driven and heterogeneous increase in STEM workers across U.S. cities, we use the distribution of foreign-born STEM workers in 1980 and exploit the introduction and variation of the H-1B visa program granting entry to foreign-born college educated (mainly STEM) workers. We find that H-1B-driven increases in STEM workers in a city were associated with significant increases in wages paid to college educated natives. Wage increases for non-college educated natives are smaller but still significant. We do not find significant effects on employment. We also find that STEM workers increased housing rents for college graduates, which eroded part of their wage gains. Together, these results imply a significant effect of foreign STEM on total factor productivity growth in the average US city between 1990 and 2010.

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The Persistent Connection Between Language-of-Interview and Latino Political Opinion

Taeku Lee & Efrén Pérez
Political Behavior, June 2014, Pages 401-425

Abstract:
Since the advent of public opinion polling, scholars have extensively documented the relationship between survey response and interviewer characteristics, including race, ethnicity, and gender. This paper extends this literature to the domain of language-of-interview, with a focus on Latino political opinion. We ascertain whether, and to what degree, Latinos’ reported political attitudes vary by the language they interview in. Using several political surveys, including the 1989–1990 Latino National Political Survey and the 2006 Latino National Survey, we unearth two key patterns. First, language-of-interview produces substantively important differences of opinion between English and Spanish interviewees. This pattern is not isolated to attitudes that directly or indirectly involve Latinos (e.g., immigration policy, language policy). Indeed, it emerges even in the reporting of political facts. Second, the association between Latino opinion and language-of-interview persists even after statistically controlling for, among other things, individual differences in education, national origin, citizenship status, and generational status. Together, these results suggest that a fuller understanding of the contours of Latino public opinion can benefit by acknowledging the influence of language-of-interview.

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Framing Unauthorized Immigrants: The Effects of Labels on Evaluations

Reidar Ommundsen et al.
Psychological Reports, April 2014, Pages 461-478

Abstract:
In the U.S. media, unauthorized immigrants are often interchangeably referred to as “illegal aliens,” “illegal immigrants,” and undocumented immigrants.” In spite of formal equivalence, these terms carry different connotations, but the effects of these labels on people's attitudes toward immigrants are not well documented. In this replication study, 274 undergraduate students in psychology responded to one of three randomly distributed versions of a 20-item scale measuring attitudes toward unauthorized immigration. The items in the three scale versions varyingly referred to immigrants using the three terms. Results showed differences in attitudes toward unauthorized immigration between all experimental conditions. The label “illegal immigrants” yielded significantly less positive attitudes compared to the label “undocumented immigrants,” and respondents exposed to the label “illegal aliens” showed the most positive attitudes. Furthermore, the effects of the experimental conditions were not moderated by the respondents' patriotism, sex, or own immigrant background.

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Tradable Immigration Quotas

Jesús Fernández-Huertas Moraga & Hillel Rapoport
Journal of Public Economics, July 2014, Pages 94–108

Abstract:
International migration is maybe the single most effective way to alleviate global poverty. When a given host country allows more immigrants in, this creates costs and benefits for that particular country as well as a positive externality for individuals and governments who care about world poverty. Host countries quite often restrict immigration due to its important social and political costs, however these costs are never measured and made comparable across countries. In this paper we first show theoretically that tradable immigration quotas (TIQs) can reveal countries’ comparative advantages in hosting immigrants and – once coupled with a matching mechanism taking migrants’ preferences over destinations and countries preferences over migrants’ types into account – allow for exploiting them efficiently. We then discuss three potential applications: a market for the resettlement of international refugees, a market for the resettlement of migrants displaced by climate change, and the creation of an OECD poverty-reduction visa program adapted from the US green card lottery.

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Revealing Discriminatory Intent: Legislator Preferences, Voter Identification, and Responsiveness Bias

Matthew Mendez & Christian Grose
University of Southern California Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
Is bias in responsiveness to constituents conditional on the policy preferences of elected officials? The scholarly conventional wisdom is that constituency groups who do not receive policy representation still obtain some level of responsiveness by legislators outside of the policy realm. In contrast, we present a theory of preference-induced responsiveness bias where constituency responsiveness by legislators is associated with legislator policy preferences. Elected officials who favor laws harming minority groups are also less likely to engage in non-policy responsiveness to minority groups. To test this proposition, we conducted a field experiment in 28 U.S. legislative chambers. Legislators were randomly assigned to receive messages from Latino, Anglo, English-speaking, and Spanish-speaking constituents asking if a driver’s license is required for voting. If legislators supported voter identification, Latino constituents were less likely than Anglo constituents to receive communications from legislators. The implication is that discriminatory intent underlies legislative support for voter identification laws.

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Politics, unemployment, and the enforcement of immigration law

Michael Makowsky & Thomas Stratmann
Public Choice, July 2014, Pages 131-153

Abstract:
Immigration control-related audits and their resulting sanctions are not solely determined by impartial enforcement of laws and regulations. They are also determined by the incentives faced by vote-maximizing politicians, agents acting on their behalf, and workers likely to compete with immigrants in the local labor market. In this paper, we use a unique data set to test the extent to which congressional oversight determines the bureaucratic immigration enforcement process. We examine the decisions made at each stage of enforcement from over 40,000 audits from 1990 to 2000. This includes analysis of (1) whether a firm is found in violation, (2) whether a fine is issued, (3) the size of the fine issued, and (4) how much of a dollar reduction fined employers were able to negotiate. We find that the number of audits conducted increases with local unemployment. We also find that a congressman’s party affiliation and its interaction with committee membership and party majority status, as well as firm size and local union membership, correlate to decisions made at every stage of enforcement.

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Immigration, Search, and Redistribution: A Quantitative Assessment of Native Welfare

Michele Battisti et al.
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
We study the effects of immigration on native welfare in a general equilibrium model featuring two skill types, search frictions, wage bargaining, and a redistributive welfare state. Our quantitative analysis suggests that, in all 20 countries studied, immigration attenuates the effects of search frictions. These gains tend to outweigh the welfare costs of redistribution. Immigration has increased native welfare in almost all countries. Both high-skilled and low-skilled natives benefit in two thirds of countries, contrary to what models without search frictions predict. Median total gains from migration are 1.19% and 1.00% for high and low skilled natives, respectively.

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Hurricane Katrina, a Construction Boom, and a New Labor Force: Latino Immigrants and the New Orleans Construction Industry, 2000 and 2006–2010

Blake Sisk & Carl Bankston
Population Research and Policy Review, June 2014, Pages 309-334

Abstract:
Disasters provide opportunities to study the social and economic dimensions of large-scale shifts. Drawn by the surge in demand for low-skill construction workers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Latino immigrants represented a substantial share of the New Orleans reconstruction workforce. Scholars, however, have yet to examine how the increased presence of immigrants affected U.S.-born workers in New Orleans. In this analysis, we investigate how the influx of Latino immigrant construction workers shaped the demographic composition and occupational-wage structure of the New Orleans construction sector. Using IPUMS-U.S.A. data from the 2000 and 2006–2010 periods for the New Orleans MSA, we employ logistic and multinomial logistic regression models to analyze a sample of 3,206 foreign-born Latinos, U.S.-born whites, U.S.-born blacks, and others employed in the construction industry. Our analysis indicates that the probability of U.S.-born workers being employed in construction remained stable from the pre- to post-storm period, even as we find evidence of an emerging immigrant employment niche in the post-Katrina construction industry. After the storm, however, Latino immigrants were much more heavily concentrated in occupations at the bottom end of the construction industry’s wage structure, while the relative position of U.S.-born workers improved across the two periods. Together, these findings show that disasters, like other structural shifts, can yield the conditions that produce immigrant employment niches. Moreover, our results indicate that while employment niches provide economic opportunities for the foreign-born, they can also intensify the disadvantage experienced by immigrant workers.

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Immigrant employment through the Great Recession: Individual characteristics and metropolitan contexts

Cathy Yang Liu & Jason Edwards
Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Immigrants continue to settle in metropolitan areas across the United States and bring significant changes to various urban labor markets. Using American Community Survey (ACS) data for 2007 and 2011, we trace the employment outcomes of immigrants compared to native-born workers before and after the recent Great Recession across the 100 largest metropolitan areas and examine individual-level and metropolitan-level factors that shape their employment outcomes. We find that low-skilled workers in general and immigrants without English proficiency and those who are new entrants or earliest arrivals are harder hit in the recession. Latino immigrants and black workers fare worse in areas with high immigrant concentration. Latino immigrants experience employment gains, however, in the South, large urban economies, as well as new immigrant gateways. Asian immigrants see declines in employment likelihood in areas with a large construction sector, while areas with a large trade sector hurt native-born white workers.

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Latinos, Blacks, and the Competition for Low-Skill Jobs: Examining Regional Variations in the Effect of Immigration on Homicide in the U.S.

Raymond Barranco
Sociological Spectrum, May/June 2014, Pages 185-202

Abstract:
Past research has shown that a lack of low-skill jobs increases both unemployment and homicide for blacks. Therefore, it is important for scholars to understand the potentially negative effects brought about by increased competition for these jobs. Given the recent dramatic rise in the number of low-skilled Latinos in the United States, this paper examines how increased Latino competition for low-skill jobs affects black homicide victimization. Using negative binomial regression, I examine black homicide victimization data obtained from coroner's reports. Results indicate that Latino competition for jobs only affects blacks in urban areas that have recently experienced a large increase in its Latino population; however, the effects vary by industry.

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Do Immigrants Bring Good Health?

Osea Giuntella & Fabrizio Mazzonna
University of Oxford Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
This paper studies the effects of immigration on health. We merge information on individual characteristics from the German Socio-Economic Panel with detailed local labor market characteristics for the period 1984 to 2009. We exploit the longitudinal component of the data to analyze how immigration affects the health of both immigrants and natives over time. Immigrants are shown to be healthier than natives upon their arrival ("healthy immigrant effect"), but their health deteriorates over time spent in Germany. We show that the convergence in health is heterogeneous across immigrants and faster among those working in more physically demanding jobs. Immigrants are significantly more likely to work in strenuous occupations. In light of these facts, we investigate whether changes in the spatial concentration of immigrants affect natives' health. Our results suggest that immigration reduces residents' likelihood to report negative health outcomes by improving their working conditions and reducing the average workload. We show that these effects are concentrated in blue-collar occupations and are larger among low educated natives and previous cohorts of immigrants.

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The Impact of Immigration on the Well-Being of Natives

Alpaslan Akay, Amelie Constant & Corrado Giulietti
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, July 2014, Pages 72–92

Abstract:
Combining data from the German Socio-Economic Panel for 1998-2009 with local labor market information, this is the first paper to investigate how the spatial concentration of immigrants affects the life satisfaction of the native Germans. Our results show a positive and robust effect of immigration on natives’ well-being, which is not driven by local labor market characteristics. Immigration has only a weak impact on the subjective well-being of immigrant groups, meanwhile. We also examine potential threats to causality and conclude that our findings are not driven by selectivity and reverse causality. Specifically, natives are not crowded out by immigrants and the sorting of immigrants to regions with higher native happiness is negligible. We further find that the positive effect of immigration on natives’ life satisfaction is a function of the assimilation of immigrants in the region. Immigration's well-being effect is higher in regions with intermediate assimilation levels and is essentially zero in regions with no or complete assimilation.

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The integration paradox: Level of education and immigrants’ attitudes towards natives and the host society

Thomas de Vroome, Borja Martinovic & Maykel Verkuyten
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, April 2014, Pages 166-175

Abstract:
The so-called integration paradox refers to the phenomenon of the economically more integrated and highly educated immigrants turning away from the host society, instead of becoming more oriented toward it. The present study examined this paradox in the Netherlands among a large sample (N = 3,981) of immigrants, including 2 generations and 4 ethnic groups. The assumed negative relationship between level of education and attitudes toward the host society and the native population was expected to be mediated by two indicators of perceived acceptance by the native majority: discrimination and subgroup respect. Results show that higher educated immigrants perceive more discrimination and less respect for minorities, and these perceptions, in turn, relate to less positive evaluations of the native majority and the host society. This pattern of associations is quite similar for the 2 generations and for the 4 migrant groups.

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Neighborhood Coethnic Immigrant Concentrations and Mexican American Children’s Early Academic Trajectories

Jacob Hibel & Matthew Hall
Population Research and Policy Review, June 2014, Pages 365-391

Abstract:
We use data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–1999 as well as neighborhood data from the 2000 U.S. Census to examine relationships between neighborhood Mexican immigrant concentration and reading (n = 820) and mathematics (n = 1,540) achievement among children of Mexican descent. Mixed-effects growth curves show that children living in immigrant-rich communities enter school at an achievement disadvantage relative to children in neighborhoods with fewer coethnic immigrant families. However, these disparities are driven by lower-SES families’ concentration in immigrant-heavy neighborhoods as well as these neighborhoods’ structural disadvantages. Controlling for children’s generation status and socioeconomic status, as well as neighborhood-level measures of structural disadvantage, safety, and social support, neighborhood immigrant concentration demonstrates a modest positive association with mathematics achievement among children of Mexican immigrant parents at the time of school entry. However, we do not find strong positive associations between Mexican American children’s rate of achievement growth over the elementary and middle school years and their neighborhoods’ concentration of Mexican immigrants.

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On Consumer Credit Outcomes in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region

Chintal Desai & Andre Mollick
Journal of Financial Services Research, February 2014, Pages 91-115

Abstract:
The ease in mobility of people across the U.S.-Mexico border region provides a natural setting for analyzing the role of economic interdependency on consumer credit outcomes. Since the U.S. and Mexican economies are not entirely synchronized and have different growth rates, the growing Mexican border economy is likely to increase the consumption of U.S. goods and services in the region, and provide additional job opportunities to the U.S. border residents. Thus, the effect of being located at the border (‘border effect’) might reduce default and bankruptcy in the U.S. However, if both economies are nearly perfectly correlated, then the ‘border effect’ is likely to be insignificant. Our results are consistent with the border effect lowering the rate of bankruptcies and mortgage defaults in the U.S. counties that share a border with Mexico. An increase in the level of economic interdependency, as measured by the differential economic growth between Mexican municipalities and their sister U.S. county, decreases the bankruptcy rates in the U.S. border region. Overall, this research helps understand credit risk issues in the U.S.-Mexico border region.

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Immigration Quotas, World War I, and Emigrant Flows from the United States in the Early 20th Century

Michael Greenwood & Zachary Ward
Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

Abstract:
Little is known about international return migration because governments rarely track out-migrants. However, one exception occurred early in the 20th century when the United States kept records of emigrants. Using within-country changes in quota allocations in 1921, 1924, and 1929 in combination with 1908-1932 data on specific countries of intended destination of the emigrants, we estimate the effect of quotas on (1) out-migration rates, (2) emigration across skill groups, and (3) the duration of temporary migrants’ stays in the U.S. Higher quota restrictions reduced emigration rates, mostly for unskilled laborers and farmers. Higher quota restrictions also increased duration of stay, as the share of migrants staying less than 5 years fell and the share staying 5 to 10 years rose. Return migration behavior was also associated with changes in previous immigrant cohort’s networks and savings. Return migration rates were also low during World War I, and more significant population losses from the War in home countries discouraged return migration. Finally, out-migration of German migrants increased substantially during the 1920s.

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Foreign-Born Voting Behavior in Local Elections: Evidence From New Immigrant Destinations

Melissa Goldsmith & Claudio Holzner
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Approximately half of immigrants to the United States are now settling directly in cities and towns with little prior history of immigration. Because this dispersed settlement pattern is so recent, we know little about the political behavior of naturalized citizens in these new immigrant destinations. This article begins to fill this gap by exploring the determinants of foreign-born voting in municipal elections using a new dataset that combines official voting information from the state of Utah with demographic information about Utah residents from the Utah Population Database (UPDB). We hypothesize that in addition to individual-level predictors of prior experience with democratic politics and community attachment, the size of cities and their form of government will also affect the likelihood that foreign-born citizens will turn out to vote in local elections. We use multilevel modeling techniques to test these hypotheses and find that prior experience with democratic politics, whether in the United States or in their home country, along with the city-level characteristics of city size and form of government, are powerful predictors of foreign-born voting in local elections. Moreover, we find that while large cities experience lower levels of turnout for all citizens, the negative effect on participation is strongest for foreign-born citizens.

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Immigration and House Prices in the UK

Filipa Sá
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article studies the effect of immigration on house prices in the UK. It .finds that immigration has a negative effect on house prices and presents evidence that this negative effect is due to the mobility response of the native population. Natives respond to immigration by moving to different areas and those who leave are at the top of the wage distribution. This generates a negative income effect on housing demand and pushes down house prices. The negative effect of immigration on house prices is driven by local areas where immigrants have lower education.

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Immigration and Structural Change: Evidence from Post-War Germany

Sebastian Braun & Michael Kvasnicka
Journal of International Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does immigration accelerate sectoral change from low- to high-productivity sectors? This paper analyzes the effect of one of the largest population movements in history, the influx of millions of German expellees to West Germany after World War II, on Germany’s speed of transition away from low-productivity agriculture. A simple two-sector specific factors model, in which moving costs prevent the marginal product of labor to be equalized across sectors, predicts that expellee inflows boost output per worker by expanding the high-productivity non-agricultural sector but decrease output per worker within sectors. Using German district-level data from before and after the war, we find empirical support for these predictions.

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The Causal Effect of Trade on Migration: Evidence from Countries of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership

Nadia Campaniello
Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the attempt to reduce migration pressure, since 1995, the European Union has been planning to establish a free trade area with developing countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The process is still ongoing. Our paper tests whether it is likely to be an effective policy. We estimate a gravitational model of bilateral migrations on bilateral exports from the Mediterranean Third Countries (South) to the European Union (North) over the period 1970-2000, using different specifications. We find, in line with most of the literature, a significantly positive correlation (called “complementarity”) between exports and migrations from the South to the North. Then we go one step further, trying to solve the potential endogeneity problem using average trade tariffs and bilateral exchange rate volatility as instruments for trade. Based on the OLS as well as the 2SLS results, liberalizing trade in the area of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership does not seem to be an effective policy to mitigate the migration flows, at least in the short run.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Rough

Childhood bullying involvement predicts low-grade systemic inflammation into adulthood

William Copeland et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 27 May 2014, Pages 7570–7575

Abstract:
Bullying is a common childhood experience that involves repeated mistreatment to improve or maintain one’s status. Victims display long-term social, psychological, and health consequences, whereas bullies display minimal ill effects. The aim of this study is to test how this adverse social experience is biologically embedded to affect short- or long-term levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of low-grade systemic inflammation. The prospective population-based Great Smoky Mountains Study (n = 1,420), with up to nine waves of data per subject, was used, covering childhood/adolescence (ages 9–16) and young adulthood (ages 19 and 21). Structured interviews were used to assess bullying involvement and relevant covariates at all childhood/adolescent observations. Blood spots were collected at each observation and assayed for CRP levels. During childhood and adolescence, the number of waves at which the child was bullied predicted increasing levels of CRP. Although CRP levels rose for all participants from childhood into adulthood, being bullied predicted greater increases in CRP levels, whereas bullying others predicted lower increases in CRP compared with those uninvolved in bullying. This pattern was robust, controlling for body mass index, substance use, physical and mental health status, and exposures to other childhood psychosocial adversities. A child’s role in bullying may serve as either a risk or a protective factor for adult low-grade inflammation, independent of other factors. Inflammation is a physiological response that mediates the effects of both social adversity and dominance on decreases in health.

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Trends in Bullying, Physical Fighting, and Weapon Carrying Among 6th- Through 10th-Grade Students From 1998 to 2010: Findings From a National Study

Jessamyn Perlus et al.
American Journal of Public Health, June 2014, Pages 1100-1106

Objectives: We examined trends from 1998 to 2010 in bullying, bullying victimization, physical fighting, and weapon carrying and variations by gender, grade level, and race/ethnicity among US adolescents.

Methods: The Health Behavior in School-Aged Children surveys of nationally representative samples of students in grades 6 through 10 were completed in 1998 (n = 15 686), 2002 (n = 14 818), 2006 (n = 9229), and 2010 (n = 10 926). We assessed frequency of bullying behaviors, physical fighting, and weapon carrying as well as weapon type and subtypes of bullying. We conducted logistic regression analyses, accounting for the complex sampling design, to identify trends and variations by demographic factors.

Results: Bullying perpetration, bullying victimization, and physical fighting declined from 1998 to 2010. Weapon carrying increased for White students only. Declines in bullying perpetration and victimization were greater for boys than for girls. Declines in bullying perpetration and physical fighting were greater for middle-school students than for high-school students.

Conclusions: Declines in most violent behaviors are encouraging; however, lack of decline in weapon carrying merits further attention.

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Are You Insulting Me? Exposure to Alcohol Primes Increases Aggression Following Ambiguous Provocation

William Pedersen et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Considerable research has shown that alcohol consumption can increase aggression and produce extremes in other social behaviors. Although most theories posit that such effects are caused by pharmacological impairment of cognitive processes, recent research indicates that exposure to alcohol-related constructs, in the absence of consumption, can produce similar effects. Here we tested the hypothesis that alcohol priming is most likely to affect aggression in the context of ambiguous provocation. Experiment 1 showed that exposure to alcohol primes increased aggressive retaliation but only when an initial provocation was ambiguous; unambiguous provocation elicited highly aggressive responses regardless of prime exposure. Experiment 2 showed that alcohol prime exposure effects are relatively short-lived and that perceptions of the provocateur’s hostility mediated effects of prime exposure on aggression. These findings suggest modification and extension of existing models of alcohol-induced aggression.

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Badgrlz? Exploring Sex Differences in Cyberbullying Behaviors

Nadine Connell et al.
Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, July 2014, Pages 209-228

Abstract:
Research on bullying suggests that traditional bullying is gendered such that males participate in physical acts while females engage in relational attacks, but the nature of the relationship between gender and cyberbullying is less defined. Because the Internet is an ideal environment for the relational forms of bullying favored by females, we hypothesize that females engage in more cyberbullying than males. We also hypothesize that there are gender differences in predictors of cyberbullying and cybervictimization. In order to better understand these gender dynamics, we examine self-reported bullying and victimization experiences in a sample of 3,867 middle school students in a northeastern state. Contrary to recent findings, our results show support for the gendered nature of cyberbullying and suggest that females engage in more cyberbullying than males. We also find gender variation in predictors of cybervictimization. We discuss the implication of these findings, especially in light of prevention and intervention needs.

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Short- and Long-Term Effects of Video Game Violence on Interpersonal Trust

Tobias Rothmund et al.
Media Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two studies investigate the psychological processes underlying short- and long-term effects of video game violence on interpersonal trust. Study 1 demonstrates that interacting with physically aggressive virtual agents decreases players' trust in subsequent interactions. This effect was stronger for players who were dispositionally sensitive to victimization. In Study 2, long-term effects of adolescents' frequent exposure to video game violence on interpersonal trust and victim sensitivity were investigated. Cross-lagged path analyses show that the reported frequency of playing violent video games reduced interpersonal trust over a period of 12 months, particularly among victim-sensitive players. These findings are in line with the sensitivity to mean intentions (SeMI) model, and they suggest that interpersonal mistrust is a relevant long-term outcome of frequent exposure to video game violence.

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Reducing Aggressive Responses to Social Exclusion Using Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)

Paolo Riva et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
A vast body of research showed that social exclusion can trigger aggression. However, the neural mechanisms involved in regulating aggressive responses to social exclusion are still largely unknown. Transcranical direct current stimulation (tDCS) modulates the excitability of a target region. Building on studies suggesting that activity in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (rVLPFC) might aid the regulation or inhibition of social exclusion-related distress, we hypothesized that non-invasive brain polarization through tDCS over the rVLPFC would reduce behavioral aggression following social exclusion. Participants were socially excluded or included while they received tDCS or sham stimulation to the rVLPFC. Next, they received an opportunity to aggress. Excluded participants demonstrated cognitive awareness of their inclusionary status, yet tDCS (but not sham stimulation) reduced their behavioral aggression. Excluded participants who received tDCS stimulation were no more aggressive than included participants. tDCS stimulation did not influence socially included participants’ aggression. Our findings provide the first causal test for the role of rVLPFC in modulating aggressive responses to social exclusion. Our findings suggest that modulating activity in a brain area (i.e., the rVLPFC) implicated in self-control and emotion regulation can break the link between social exclusion and aggression.

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Environmental transmission of violent criminal behavior in siblings: A Swedish national study

K.S. Kendler
Psychological Medicine, forthcoming

Background: Violent criminal behaviour (VCB) runs strongly in families partly because of shared environmental factors. Can we clarify the environmental processes that contribute to similarity of risk for VCB in siblings?

Method: We assessed VCB from the Swedish National Crime Register for the years 1973–2011 in siblings born 1950–1991. We examined by conditional logistic and Cox proportional hazard regression, respectively, whether resemblance for VCB in sibling pairs was influenced by their age difference and whether VCB was more strongly ‘transmitted’ from older→younger versus younger→older siblings.

Results: In our best-fit logistic model, for each year of age difference in full sibling pairs, the risk for VCB in the sibling of a case versus control proband declined by 2.6% [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.2–3.0]. In our best-fit Cox model, the hazard rate for VCB in a sibling when the affected proband was older versus younger was 1.4, 2.1 and 2.9 respectively for a 1-, 5- and 10-year difference in siblings.

Conclusions: Controlling for genetic effects by examining only full siblings, sibling resemblance for risk for VCB was significantly greater in pairs closer versus more distant in age. Older siblings more strongly transmitted risk for VCB to their younger siblings than vice versa. These results strongly support the importance of familial–environmental influences on VCB and provide some insight into the possible mechanisms at work.

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Men in the Mirror: The Role of Men’s Body Shame in Sexual Aggression

Kris Mescher & Laurie Rudman
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Because research on body shame has predominantly focused on women, the consequences of male body shame for gender relations have been under-investigated. Following up on preliminary findings suggesting that men high on body shame were hostile toward women, in two experiments, we uniquely observed that body shame predisposes men to sexual aggression when they react negatively to masculinity threats. In Experiment 1, men rejected by a female confederate for being unattractive showed rape proclivity to the extent they were high on both body shame and post-rejection negative affect. In Experiment 2, the same pattern emerged on the part of men rejected by a female (but not a male) confederate for ostensibly being gay. In concert, the findings suggest that men’s body shame is an overlooked factor in sexual aggression, which has implications for extant rape theories and precarious manhood theory.

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Averting School Rampage: Student Intervention Amid a Persistent Code of Silence

Eric Madfis
Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, July 2014, Pages 229-249

Abstract:
Pulling from in-depth interviews with school administrators, counselors, security and police officers, and teachers directly involved in thwarting rampage attacks at 11 Northeastern schools, this study considers the extent to which students have broken through a “code of silence,” discouraging them from informing on their peers. While findings support prior research indicating the vital preventative role of students’ coming forward with information about threats, close scrutiny of averted incidents reveals that scholars and educational practitioners have overestimated the extent to which the student code of silence has diminished post-Columbine. Even in these successfully averted incidents, numerous students exposed to threats still did not come forward; those who did were rarely close associates or confidants of accused students; and some who did ultimately come forward did so as a result of being personally threatened or in order to deflect blame away from themselves, rather than out of altruistic concern for others.

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Here we go again: Bullying history and cardiovascular responses to social exclusion

Matthew Newman
Physiology & Behavior, 22 June 2014, Pages 76–80

Abstract:
Previous research suggests that social exclusion — both acute and chronic — may be associated with a pattern of blunted cardiovascular responding. But it is unknown to what extent acute and chronic exclusion interact. That is, what happens when victims of long-term social rejection encounter an instance of exclusion later in life? The goal of the present study was to test whether prior experience being bullied would alter cardiovascular responses to an acute experience of social exclusion. Participants took part in a short online chat, during which they were either included or excluded from the conversation. Consistent with hypotheses, all participants showed an increase in sympathetic activity in the exclusion condition, but this response was significantly blunted among those with more chronic history of bullying victimization. No differences were observed for parasympathetic activity. This pattern suggests that a history of chronic victimization magnifies the cardiovascular “blunting” shown previously among victims of ostracism. This line of work suggests that bullying victims may develop regulatory mechanisms in response to social threats, and this may ultimately provide valuable information for helping victims become more resilient.

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The facial width-to-height ratio shares stronger links with judgments of aggression than with judgments of trustworthiness

Shawn Geniole et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Variation in the facial width-to-height ratio (face ratio) is associated with judgments of aggression and of trustworthiness made by observers when viewing men’s faces. Although judgments of aggression and of trustworthiness are correlated, they represent distinct constructs. We thus investigated the hypothesis that judgments of aggression share stronger associations with the face ratio than judgments of trustworthiness, and that judgments of aggression mediate the link between the face ratio and trustworthiness. Across 4 separate studies, involving 129 observers rating subsets of 141 photographs (original photographs of individuals who provided consent for their use) of clean-shaven (65 faces), unshaved (22 faces), or digitized male faces (54 faces; digitized faces were creating using facial modeling software), this hypothesis was supported. The correlations between the face ratio and judgments of aggression were moderate to strong in all 4 studies (rs = .45 to .70). Reaction time was measured in Study 4: Participants judged aggression faster than trustworthiness; thus, temporal precedence also supports the hypothesis that aggression mediates the link between the face ratio and trustworthiness. Sensitivity to the face ratio may therefore be part of a perceptual mechanism specialized to assess aggressiveness rather than trustworthiness in others, likely because of the greater necessity for rapid judgments of aggressive potential than trustworthiness.

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Is popularity associated with aggression toward socially preferred or marginalized targets?

Kätlin Peets & Ernest Hodges
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, August 2014, Pages 112–123

Abstract:
This study was designed to test whether aggression toward easy or challenging targets is more likely to be associated with popularity. More specifically, we tested two alternative hypotheses with a sample of 224 adolescents (12- and 13-year-olds): (a) whether aggression toward highly disliked peers is associated with popularity (the easy target hypothesis) or (b) whether aggression toward highly liked peers is associated with popularity (the challenging target hypothesis). Support was found only for the challenging target hypothesis. In particular, our results indicate that aggressiveness toward peers who are liked by many others has social benefits in the form of greater popularity (particularly for highly preferred adolescents) without social costs (i.e., is unrelated to social preference). In contrast, aggressiveness toward peers who are disliked by many others is associated with lower social preference but bears no association with popularity. These results highlight the importance of studying contextualized aggression in order to understand the conditions under which aggression is most, and least, likely to be associated with social power and dominance.

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Triple Entitlement and Homicidal Anger: An Exploration of the Intersectional Identities of American Mass Murderers

Eric Madfis
Men and Masculinities, April 2014, Pages 67-86

Abstract:
In the Unites States, middle-class Caucasian heterosexual males in their teenage years and in middle age commit mass murder, the killing of at least three victims during a single episode at one or more closely related locations, in numbers disproportionately high relative to their share of the population. Utilizing an intersectional theoretical approach, this article investigates the convergences of (1) white entitlement, (2) middle-class instability and downward mobility in the postindustrial economy, and (3) heterosexual masculinity and its relationship to violence. Such analysis concludes that, among many mass killers, the triple privileges of white heterosexual masculinity which make subsequent life course losses more unexpected and thus more painfully shameful ultimately buckle under the failures of downward mobility and result in a final cumulative act of violence to stave off subordinated masculinity.

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Gender differences in oxytocin-associated disruption of decision bias during emotion perception

Spencer Lynn et al.
Psychiatry Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Oxytocin is associated with differences in the perception of and response to socially mediated information, such as facial expressions. Across studies, however, oxytocin's effect on emotion perception has been inconsistent. Outside the laboratory, emotion perception involves interpretation of perceptual uncertainty and assessment of behavioral risk. An account of these factors is largely missing from studies of oxytocin's effect on emotion perception and might explain inconsistent results across studies. Of relevance, studies of oxytocin's effect on learning and decision-making indicate that oxytocin attenuates risk aversion. We used the probability of encountering angry faces and the cost of misidentifying them as not angry to create a risky environment wherein bias to categorize faces as angry would maximize point earnings. Consistent with an underestimation of the factors creating risk (i.e., encounter rate and cost), men given oxytocin exhibited a worse (i.e., less liberal) response bias than men given placebo. Oxytocin did not influence women's performance. These results suggest that oxytocin may impair men's ability to adapt to changes in risk and uncertainty when introduced to novel or changing social environments. Because oxytocin also influences behavior in non-social realms, oxytocin pharmacotherapy could have unintended consequences (i.e., risk-prone decision-making) while nonetheless normalizing pathological social interaction.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pairing off

Genetic and educational assortative mating among US adults

Benjamin Domingue et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Understanding the social and biological mechanisms that lead to homogamy (similar individuals marrying one another) has been a long-standing issue across many fields of scientific inquiry. Using a nationally representative sample of non-Hispanic white US adults from the Health and Retirement Study and information from 1.7 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms, we compare genetic similarity among married couples to noncoupled pairs in the population. We provide evidence for genetic assortative mating in this population but the strength of this association is substantially smaller than the strength of educational assortative mating in the same sample. Furthermore, genetic similarity explains at most 10% of the assortative mating by education levels. Results are replicated using comparable data from the Framingham Heart Study.

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A New Standard of Sexual Behavior? Are Claims Associated With the “Hookup Culture” Supported by General Social Survey Data?

Martin Monto & Anna Carey
Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Popular media have described intimate relationships among contemporary college students as dominated by a pervasive sexual “hookup culture,” implying that students are involved in frequent sexual encounters pursued by both participants without the expectation of a continuing relationship. The hookup culture has been described as “a nationwide phenomenon that has largely replaced traditional dating on college campuses” (Bogle, 2008, p. 5). We tested whether these claims are supported among young adults (18–25) who had completed at least one year of college. Contrasting 1988–1996 waves of the General Social Survey with 2004–2012 waves, we found respondents from the current era did not report more sexual partners since age 18, more frequent sex, or more partners during the past year than respondents from the earlier era. Sexually active respondents from the current era were more likely than those from the earlier era to report sex with a casual date/pickup or friend, and less likely to report sex with a spouse/regular partner. These modest changes are consistent with cultural shifts in the “scripts” and terminology surrounding sexuality. We find no evidence of substantial changes in sexual behavior that would indicate a new or pervasive pattern of non-relational sex among contemporary college students.

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Gender and Sexual Economics: Do Women View Sex as a Female Commodity?

Laurie Rudman & Janell Fetterolf
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the study reported here, data from implicit and behavioral choice measures did not support sexual economics theory’s (SET’s) central tenet that women view female sexuality as a commodity. Instead, men endorsed sexual exchange more than women did, which supports the idea that SET is a vestige of patriarchy. Further, men’s sexual advice, more than women’s, enforced the sexual double standard (i.e., men encouraged men more than women to have casual sex) — a gender difference that was mediated by hostile sexism, but also by men’s greater implicit investment in sexual economics. That is, men were more likely to suppress female sexuality because they resisted female empowerment and automatically associated sex with money more than women did. It appears that women are not invested in sexual economics, but rather, men are invested in patriarchy, even when it means raising the price of sexual relations.

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Prioritization of Potential Mates’ History of Sexual Fidelity During a Conjoint Ranking Task

Justin Mogilski, Joel Wade & Lisa Welling
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
This series of studies is the first to use conjoint analysis to examine how individuals make trade-offs during mate selection when provided information about a partner’s history of sexual infidelity. Across three studies, participants ranked profiles of potential mates, with each profile varying across five attributes: financial stability, physical attractiveness, sexual fidelity, emotional investment, and similarity. They also rated each attribute separately for importance in an ideal mate. Overall, we found that for a long-term mate, participants prioritized a potential partner’s history of sexual fidelity over other attributes when profiles were ranked conjointly. For a short-term mate, sexual fidelity, physical attractiveness, and financial stability were equally important, and each was more important than emotional investment and similarity. These patterns contrast with participants’ self-reported importance ratings of each individual attribute. Our results are interpreted within the context of previous literature examining how making trade-offs affect mate selection.

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Non-linear associations between stature and mate choice characteristics for American men and their spouses

Gert Stulp et al.
American Journal of Human Biology, forthcoming

Objectives: Although male height is positively associated with many aspects of mate quality, average height men attain higher reproductive success in US populations. We hypothesize that this is because the advantages associated with taller stature accrue mainly from not being short, rather than from being taller than average. Lower fertility by short men may be a consequence of their and their partner's lower scores on aspects of mate quality. Taller men, although they score higher on mate quality compared to average height men, may have lower fertility because they are more likely to be paired with taller women, who are potentially less fertile.

Methods: We analyzed data from The Integrated Health Interview Series (IHIS) of the United States (N = 165,606). Segmented regression was used to examine patterns across the height continuum.

Results: On all aspects of own and partner quality, shorter men scored lower than both average height and taller men. Height more strongly predicted these aspects when moving from short to average height, than when moving from average to taller heights. Women of a given height who scored lower on mate quality also had shorter partners.

Conclusions: Shorter men faced a double disadvantage with respect to both their own mate quality and that of their spouses. Scores of taller men were only marginally higher than those of average height men, suggesting that being tall is less important than not being short. Although effect sizes were small, our results may partly explain why shorter and taller men have lower fertility than those of average stature.

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Dating and Hooking Up in College: Meeting Contexts, Sex, and Variation by Gender, Partner's Gender, and Class Standing

Arielle Kuperberg & Joseph Padgett
Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined 13,976 dates and 12,068 hookup encounters at 22 colleges in the United States reported by students surveyed between 2005 and 2011 in the Online College Social Life Survey (OCSLS) to determine differences between dates and hookups in partner meeting context and sex during the encounter. Students most often met date and hookup partners through institutional settings or bars and parties, with approximately two-thirds of partners met in these venues. Those who had fewer potential partners on campus (women) were less likely to find partners in campus locations and less likely to find male sexual or dating partners but more likely to date women. Men and women engaging in same-sex encounters had higher rates of meeting partners through Internet sources. Hookups were associated with partners met in bars, parties, nightclubs, and college dormitories, and were twice as likely as dates to include sex. Students were more likely to go on dates with partners met on the Internet, which we theorize is a result of low levels of trust associated with that context. Patterns found are related to the association of meeting contexts with hookup scripts, risk and trust, and local partnering markets.

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Negative frequency-dependent preferences and variation in male facial hair

Zinnia Janif, Robert Brooks & Barnaby Dixson
Biology Letters, April 2014

Abstract:
Negative frequency-dependent sexual selection maintains striking polymorphisms in secondary sexual traits in several animal species. Here, we test whether frequency of beardedness modulates perceived attractiveness of men's facial hair, a secondary sexual trait subject to considerable cultural variation. We first showed participants a suite of faces, within which we manipulated the frequency of beard thicknesses and then measured preferences for four standard levels of beardedness. Women and men judged heavy stubble and full beards more attractive when presented in treatments where beards were rare than when they were common, with intermediate preferences when intermediate frequencies of beardedness were presented. Likewise, clean-shaven faces were least attractive when clean-shaven faces were most common and more attractive when rare. This pattern in preferences is consistent with negative frequency-dependent selection.

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Menstrual cycle phase alters women's sexual preferences for composers of more complex music

Benjamin Charlton
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 7 June 2014

Abstract:
Over 140 years ago Charles Darwin first argued that birdsong and human music, having no clear survival benefit, were obvious candidates for sexual selection. Whereas the first contention is now universally accepted, his theory that music is a product of sexual selection through mate choice has largely been neglected. Here, I provide the first, to my knowledge, empirical support for the sexual selection hypothesis of music evolution by showing that women have sexual preferences during peak conception times for men that are able to create more complex music. Two-alternative forced-choice experiments revealed that woman only preferred composers of more complex music as short-term sexual partners when conception risk was highest. No preferences were displayed when women chose which composer they would prefer as a long-term partner in a committed relationship, and control experiments failed to reveal an effect of conception risk on women's preferences for visual artists. These results suggest that women may acquire genetic benefits for offspring by selecting musicians able to create more complex music as sexual partners, and provide compelling support for Darwin's assertion ‘that musical notes and rhythm were first acquired by the male or female progenitors of mankind for the sake of charming the opposite sex’.

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Estimating the Sex-Specific Effects of Genes on Facial Attractiveness and Sexual Dimorphism

Dorian Mitchem et al.
Behavior Genetics, May 2014, Pages 270-281

Abstract:
Human facial attractiveness and facial sexual dimorphism (masculinity–femininity) are important facets of mate choice and are hypothesized to honestly advertise genetic quality. However, it is unclear whether genes influencing facial attractiveness and masculinity–femininity have similar, opposing, or independent effects across sex, and the heritability of these phenotypes is poorly characterized. To investigate these issues, we assessed facial attractiveness and facial masculinity–femininity in the largest genetically informative sample (n = 1,580 same- and opposite-sex twin pairs and siblings) to assess these questions to date. The heritability was ~0.50–0.70 for attractiveness and ~0.40–0.50 for facial masculinity–femininity, indicating that, despite ostensible selection on genes influencing these traits, substantial genetic variation persists in both. Importantly, we found evidence for intralocus sexual conflict, whereby alleles that increase masculinity in males have the same effect in females. Additionally, genetic influences on attractiveness were shared across the sexes, suggesting that attractive fathers tend to have attractive daughters and attractive mothers tend to have attractive sons.

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Individual differences in preferences for cues to intelligence in the face

F.R. Moore, M.J. Law Smith & D.I. Perrett
Intelligence, May–June 2014, Pages 19–25

Abstract:
We tested for individual differences in women's preferences for cues to intelligence in male faces in accordance with hormonal status (i.e. menstrual cycle phase and use of hormonal contraceptives), relationship status and context, and self-rated intelligence. There were no effects of hormonal or relationship status (Studies 1 and 2) on preferences. There was, however, a positive relationship between self-rated intelligence and preferences for cues to intelligence in the face in the context of a long-term relationship, suggesting context-specific assortment (Study 3). In Study 4, self-rated partner intelligence correlated with preferences for facial cues to intelligence. We discuss these results in the context of intelligence as a fitness indicator and suggest that future research must control for assortative mating for cognitive traits in order to better understand intelligence in mate choice.

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Accurately Detecting Flirting: Error Management Theory, the Traditional Sexual Script, and Flirting Base Rate

Jeffrey Hall, Chong Xing & Seth Brooks
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article reports two studies on the accuracy of flirting detection. In Study 1, 52 pairs (n = 104) of opposite-sex heterosexual strangers interacted for 10 to 12 minutes, then self-reported flirting and perceived partner flirting. The results indicated that interactions where flirting did not occur were more accurately perceived than interactions where flirting occurred. In Study 2, twenty-six 1-minute video clips drawn from Study 1 were randomly assigned to one of eight experimental conditions that varied flirting base rate and the traditional sexual script. Participant observers (n = 261) attempted to determine if flirting occurred. The results indicated that base rate affected accuracy; flirting was more accurately detected in clips where flirting did not occur than in clips where flirting occurred. Study 2 also indicated that female targets’ flirting was more accurately judged than male targets’ flirting. Findings are discussed in relation to theory and courtship context.

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Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption: The Brain on Porn

Simone Kühn & Jürgen Gallinat
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To determine whether frequent pornography consumption is associated with the frontostriatal network.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Sixty-four healthy male adults with a broad range of pornography consumption at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany, reported hours of pornography consumption per week. Pornography consumption was associated with neural structure, task-related activation, and functional resting-state connectivity.

Results: We found a significant negative association between reported pornography hours per week and gray matter volume in the right caudate (P < .001, corrected for multiple comparisons) as well as with functional activity during a sexual cue–reactivity paradigm in the left putamen (P < .001). Functional connectivity of the right caudate to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was negatively associated with hours of pornography consumption.

Conclusions and Relevance: The negative association of self-reported pornography consumption with the right striatum (caudate) volume, left striatum (putamen) activation during cue reactivity, and lower functional connectivity of the right caudate to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex could reflect change in neural plasticity as a consequence of an intense stimulation of the reward system, together with a lower top-down modulation of prefrontal cortical areas. Alternatively, it could be a precondition that makes pornography consumption more rewarding.

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Affective implications of the mating/parenting trade-off: Short-term mating motives and desirability as a short-term mate predict less intense tenderness responses to infants

Alec Beall & Mark Schaller
Personality and Individual Differences, October 2014, Pages 112–117

Abstract:
Drawing on life-history theory, it is predicted that individuals’ attitudinal orientation toward unrestricted short-term mating behavior, as well as their ability to engage in such behavior, are inversely related to nurturant emotional responses (tenderness) to infants. To test these hypotheses, participants (N = 305) completed measures assessing individual differences in short-term mating orientation, self-perceived physical attractiveness, dispositional tendency to experience tenderness, and their affective responses to photographs of human infants. Results revealed that (when controlling for other relevant individual difference variables) men’s short-term mating orientation and self-perceived attractiveness were inversely associated with dispositional tenderness. Also, among men only, short-term mating orientation and self-perceived attractiveness predicted less intense tenderness responses to infants.

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Social dialect and men’s voice pitch influence women’s mate preferences

Jillian O’Connor et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Low male voice pitch may communicate potential benefits for offspring in the form of heritable health and/or dominance, whereas access to resources may be indicated by correlates of socioeconomic status, such as sociolinguistic features. Here, we examine if voice pitch and social dialect influence women’s perceptions of men’s socioeconomic status and attractiveness. In Study 1, women perceived lower pitched male voices as higher in socioeconomic status than higher pitched male voices. In Study 2, women independently perceived lower pitched voices and higher status sociolinguistic dialects as higher in socioeconomic status and attractiveness. We also found a significant interaction wherein women preferred lower pitched men’s voices more often when dialects were lower in sociolinguistic status than when they were higher in sociolinguistic status. Women also perceived lower pitched voices as higher in socioeconomic status more often when dialects were higher in sociolinguistic status than when lower in sociolinguistic status. Finally, women’s own self-rated socioeconomic status was positively related to their preferences for voices with higher status sociolinguistic dialects, but not to their preferences for voice pitch. Hence, women’s preferences for traits associated with potentially biologically heritable benefits, such as low voice pitch, are moderated by the presence of traits associated with resource accrual, such as social dialect markers. However, women’s preferences for language markers of resource accrual may be functionally independent from preferences for potential biological indicators of heritable benefits, such as voice pitch.

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Conformity to the Opinions of Other People Lasts for No More Than 3 Days

Yi Huang, Keith Kendrick & Rongjun Yu
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
When people are faced with opinions different from their own, they often revise their own opinions to match those held by other people. This is known as the social-conformity effect. Although the immediate impact of social influence on people’s decision making is well established, it is unclear whether this reflects a transient capitulation to public opinion or a more enduring change in privately held views. In an experiment using a facial-attractiveness rating task, we asked participants to rate each face; after providing their rating, they were informed of the rating given by a peer group. They then rerated the same faces after 1, 3, or 7 days or 3 months. Results show that individuals’ initial judgments are altered by the differing opinions of other people for no more than 3 days. Our findings suggest that because the social-conformity effect lasts several days, it reflects a short-term change in privately held views rather than a transient public compliance.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, May 30, 2014

I'm right, you're wrong

“I Disrespectfully Agree”: The Differential Effects of Partisan Sorting on Social and Issue Polarization

Lilliana Mason
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Disagreements over whether polarization exists in the mass public have confounded two separate types of polarization. When social polarization is separated from issue position polarization, both sides of the polarization debate can be simultaneously correct. Social polarization, characterized by increased levels of partisan bias, activism, and anger, is increasing, driven by partisan identity and political identity alignment, and does not require the same magnitude of issue position polarization. The partisan-ideological sorting that has occurred in recent decades has caused the nation as a whole to hold more aligned political identities, which has strengthened partisan identity and the activism, bias, and anger that result from strong identities, even though issue positions have not undergone the same degree of polarization. The result is a nation that agrees on many things but is bitterly divided nonetheless. An examination of ANES data finds strong support for these hypotheses.

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Resolving Ideological Conflicts by Affirming Opponent’s Status: The Tea Party, Obamacare and the 2013 government shutdown

Corinne Bendersky
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, July 2014, Pages 163–168

Abstract:
Ideological conflicts, like those over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), are highly intractable, as demonstrated by the October 2013 partial government shutdown. The current research offers a potential resolution of ideological conflicts by affirming an opponent’s status. Results of one experiment collected during the 2013 government shutdown and a second conducted shortly after the implementation of the health insurance marketplaces in early 2014 indicate that status affirmation induces conciliatory attitudes and a willingness to sacrifice one’s own outcomes in favor of ideological opponents’ by decreasing adversarial perceptions. These studies demonstrate that status is an important social dimension whose affirmation by an ideological opponent buffers the integrity of one’s identity, thereby reducing defensiveness and resistance to compromising in political conflicts.

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The Culture War and Issue Salience: An Analysis of American Sentiment on Traditional Moral Issues

Andrew Wroe, Edward Ashbee & Amanda Gosling
Journal of American Studies, May 2014, Pages 595-612

Abstract:
Despite much talk of a culture war, scholars continue to argue over whether the American public is divided on cultural and social issues. Some of the most prominent work in this area, such as Fiorina's Culture War?, has rejected the idea. However, this work has in turn been criticized for focussing only on the distribution of attitudes within the American public and ignoring the possibility that the culture war may also be driven by the increasing strength with which sections of the population hold their opinions. This paper tests the strength, or saliency, hypothesis using individual-level over-time data and nonlinear regression. It finds (1) that there was a steady and significant increase in concern about traditional moral issues between the early 1980s and 2000, but (2) that the over-time increase was driven by an upward and equal shift in the importance attached to traditional moral issues by Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, evangelicals and non-evangelicals, and frequent and infrequent worshippers alike. While the first finding offers support for the saliency hypothesis and the culture war thesis, the second challenges the idea that Americans are engaged in a war over culture. Both findings enhance but also complicate our theoretical understanding of the culture war, and have important real-world consequences for American politics.

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Reframing Polarization: Social Groups and “Culture Wars”

Christopher Muste
PS: Political Science & Politics, April 2014, Pages 432-442

Abstract:
Recent analyses of American politics often invoke the term “culture war” depicting sharp and increasing divisions within the American polity. Most of this research defines culture in terms of values and beliefs about social issues and defines polarization in terms of partisan and issue divisions. I evaluate the claim of worsening “culture wars” by using a conceptualization of political culture that focuses on social groups and measuring polarization as both social group members’ attitudes toward their own social in-groups and out-groups, and the effects of group attitudes on partisanship. Analyzing inter-group attitudes from 1964 to 2012 for social group cleavages defined by race, class, age, sex, and religion shows that polarization in attitudes toward social groups is minimal and generally stable, and most group members feel positively toward out-groups. Partisan and issue polarization seen in prior research do not extend to deep or increasing inter-group hostility that could reinforce issue-based and partisan polarization.

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My Country, Right or Wrong: Does Activating System Justification Motivation Eliminate the Liberal-Conservative Gap in Patriotic Attachment?

Jojanneke van der Toorn et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2014, Pages 50–60

Abstract:
Ideological differences in nationalism and patriotism are well-known and frequently exploited, but the question of why conservatives exhibit stronger national attachment than liberals has been inadequately addressed. Drawing on theories of system justification and political ideology as motivated social cognition, we proposed that increased patriotism is one means of satisfying the system justification goal. Thus, we hypothesized that temporarily activating system justification motivation should raise national attachment among liberals to the level of conservatives. Three experiments conducted in New York, Arkansas, and Wisconsin support this hypothesis. In the first two experiments, liberals exhibited weaker national attachment than conservatives in the absence of system justification activation, consistent with prior research. However, exposure to system criticism (Experiment 1) and system-level injustice (Experiment 2) caused liberals to strengthen their national attachment, eliminating the ideological gap. Using a system dependence manipulation in Experiment 3, this pattern was conceptually replicated with respect to patriotic but not nationalistic attachment, as hypothesized. Thus, chronic and temporary variability in system justification motivation helps to explain when liberals and conservatives do (and do not) differ in terms of national attachment and why.

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Verbal intelligence is correlated with socially and economically liberal beliefs

Noah Carl
Intelligence, May–June 2014, Pages 142–148

Abstract:
Research has consistently shown that intelligence is positively correlated with socially liberal beliefs and negatively correlated with religious beliefs. This should lead one to expect that Republicans are less intelligent than Democrats. However, I find that individuals who identify as Republican have slightly higher verbal intelligence than those who identify as Democrat (2–5 IQ points), and that individuals who supported the Republican Party in elections have slightly higher verbal intelligence than those who supported the Democratic Party (2 IQ points). I reconcile these findings with the previous literature by showing that verbal intelligence is correlated with both socially and economically liberal beliefs (β = .10–.32). My findings suggest that higher intelligence among classically liberal Republicans compensates for lower intelligence among socially conservative Republicans.

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A Primary Cause of Partisanship? Nomination Systems and Legislator Ideology

Eric McGhee et al.
American Journal of Political Science, April 2014, Pages 337–351

Abstract:
Many theoretical and empirical accounts of representation argue that primary elections are a polarizing influence. Likewise, many reformers advocate opening party nominations to nonmembers as a way of increasing the number of moderate elected officials. Data and measurement constraints, however, have limited the range of empirical tests of this argument. We marry a unique new data set of state legislator ideal points to a detailed accounting of primary systems in the United States to gauge the effect of primary systems on polarization. We find that the openness of a primary election has little, if any, effect on the extremism of the politicians it produces.

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A Theory of Partisan Sorting and Geographic Polarization: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Jason Anastasopoulos
Harvard Working Paper, March 2014

Abstract:
Do partisans sort? If so, why? I address both questions in this paper by developing the Migration-Assimilation-Polarization (MAP) theory of partisan sorting which is tested using Hurricane Katrina migration to Houston, Texas as a natural experiment. According to the MAP Theory, conservative flight induced by changes in diversity provides a mechanism for partisan sorting which can at least partially account for trends in geographic polarization. Using a variety of empirical tools including synthetic controls, I demonstrate that Hurricane Katrina migration led to increases in conservative white flight and geographic polarization between Houston and surrounding counties.

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Does More Speech Correct Falsehoods?

Edward Glaeser & Cass Sunstein
Journal of Legal Studies, January 2014, Pages 65-93

Abstract:
According to a standard principle in free-speech law, the remedy for falsehoods is more speech, not enforced silence. But empirical research demonstrates that corrections of falsehoods can backfire, by increasing people’s commitment to their inaccurate beliefs, and that presentation of balanced information can promote polarization, thus increasing preexisting social divisions. We attempt to explain these apparently puzzling phenomena by reference to what we call asymmetric Bayesianism: purported corrections may be taken to establish the truth of the proposition that is being denied, and the same information can have diametrically opposite effects if those who receive it have opposing antecedent convictions. We also show that the same information can activate radically different memories and associated convictions, thus producing polarized responses to that information, or what we call a memory boomerang. These explanations help account for the potential influence of surprising validators.

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The Imperfect Beliefs Voting Model

Benjamin Ogden
Boston University Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
In real-life elections, voters do not have full information over the policy platforms proposed by political parties. Instead, they may form (potentially incorrect) beliefs based upon the information provided by the candidates, with noise generated by the fact that different cultural groups have difficulty communicating with each other. I propose a new voting model to represent this interaction of beliefs, culture, and communication. The model shows that if policy preferences are uncorrelated with social groups, the classic median voter theorem is recovered. However, when they are correlated, I find that we should expect divergence away from the median voter as both parties gain more from appealing to the voters with whom they can communicate more easily. Therefore, as the population becomes polarized on cultural grounds, we should expect them to become polarized on political grounds as well, providing an explanation for recent political polarization in the United States. Under realistic assumptions, this division increases with the presence of extreme voters within the party bases, and decreases with the presence of a natural majority party. The model is applied to an examination of the size of government and the level of redistribution, with results more in line with the empirical evidence than models with perfect observability, and to make predictions about the informativeness of campaign advertising.

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The President, Polarization and the Party Platforms, 1944–2012

Soren Jordan, Clayton McLaughlin Webb & Dan Wood
The Forum, May 2014, Pages 169–189

Abstract:
Scholars generally agree that political elites in the US are polarized. Yet most of our evidence, especially longitudinal evidence, is built on proxy measures of elite ideology that fail to identify the unique dimensions that drive the cleavages between the parties. And our understanding of when elite polarization reemerged is also unclear. This study leverages the party platforms, along with the tools of content analysis, to shed new light on elite polarization. We find that, consistent with the literature, elite polarization is an asymmetric phenomenon driven by Republicans primarily motivated by economic issues. Further, we show that modern elite polarization emerged starting with the 1980 election.

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Perceptions of Others' Political Affiliation Are Moderated by Individual Perceivers' Own Political Attitudes

John Paul Wilson & Nicholas Rule
PLoS ONE, April 2014

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that perceivers can accurately extract information about perceptually ambiguous group memberships from facial information alone. For example, people demonstrate above-chance accuracy in categorizing political ideology from faces. Further, they ascribe particular personality traits to faces according to political party (e.g., Republicans are dominant and mature, Democrats are likeable and trustworthy). Here, we report three studies that replicated and extended these effects. In Study 1a, we provide evidence that, in addition to showing accuracy in categorization, politically-conservative participants expressed a bias toward categorizing targets as outgroup members. In Study 1b, we replicate this relationship with a larger sample and a stimulus set consisting of faces of professional politicians. In Study 2, we find that trait ascriptions based on target political affiliation are moderated by perceiver political ideology. Specifically, although Democrats are stereotyped as more likeable and trustworthy, conservative participants rated faces that were categorized as Republicans in Study 1a as more likeable and trustworthy than faces categorized as Democrats. Thus, this paper joins a growing literature showing that it is critical to consider perceiver identity in examining perceptions of identities and traits from faces.

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Social Incentives in Contributions: Field Experiment Evidence from the 2012 U.S. Presidential Campaigns

Ricardo Perez Truglia & Guillermo Cruces
Harvard Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
This paper exploits the unique institutional setting of U.S. campaign finance to provide new evidence on social incentives in political participation. We conducted a field experiment in which letters with individualized information about campaign contributions were sent to 91,998 contributors in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. The effect of those letters on recipients’ subsequent contributions are examined using administrative data. We find that exogenously making an individual’s contributions more visible to her neighbors significantly increased her subsequent contributions if the majority of her neighbors support her same party, but decreased her contribution if the majority of her neighbors support the opposite party. This constitutes evidence that individuals give preferential treatment to neighbors of the same party. In another treatment arm, we randomized the information observed by recipients about neighbors’ contribution behavior. Consistent with existing evidence on social norms, individuals contribute more when neighbors of the same party contribute higher average amounts. Furthermore, we find that the individuals also care about the total amounts raised by the same and opposite parties. These findings result in implications for fundraising strategies, the design of optimal disclosure policies and the understanding of geographic polarization.

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Conformity Effects and Geographic Polarization: Evidence from an Event-Study Analysis of Residential Mobility in the U.S.

Ricardo Perez Truglia
Harvard Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
The sorting of individuals into areas with like-minded neighbors has led to considerable geographic polarization in the United States. This paper argues that this phenomena is exacerbated by conformity effects, defined as the tendency of individuals to be more politically active when surrounded by like-minded neighbors. Disentangling conformity effects from sorting effects constitutes a difficult empirical challenge: it is difficult to separate whether Democrats are more politically active when living near other Democrats, or whether more active Democrats are more likely to live near other Democrats. We present quasi-experimental evidence with contributors to U.S. presidential campaigns. We matched data from the administrative records of the Federal Election Commission to mail forwarding data from the United States Postal Service to form a unique panel of nearly 100,000 contributors who changed residence over the period 2008-2013. We disentangle conformity effects by exploiting the timing of residential mobility in an event-study fashion. We find evidence of significant conformity effects: living in a ZIP-code where the share of same-party neighbors is 10% higher increases an individual's own likelihood of contributing by about 1.1%. We are able to conduct counterfactual analysis by combining the quasi-experimental estimates with an stylized model. The evidence suggests that geographic polarization in contributions during the 2012 U.S. presidential cycle was nearly 20% higher than it would have been in the absence of conformity effects.

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The serial reproduction of conflict: Third parties escalate conflict through communication biases

Tiane Lee, Michele Gelfand & Yoshihisa Kashima
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, September 2014, Pages 68–72

Abstract:
We apply a communication perspective to study third party conflict contagion, a phenomenon in which partisan spectators to others’ disputes not only become involved in, but escalate, the dispute to a multitude of others. Using the serial reproduction method, we demonstrate the role of third parties’ communication biases in conflict escalation, revealing that successive generations of partisan observers share and reproduce conflict narratives that become increasingly biased in their moral framing, attributions for the conflict, evaluations of the disputing parties, and quest for revenge. Despite equal fault between the disputing parties at the beginning, these communication biases increased, rather than subsided, with each iteration throughout communication chains, cumulating in distortions and group biases far above and beyond initial ingroup favoritism. Implications for strategies to debias conflict information transmission are discussed.

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Belief polarization is not always irrational

Alan Jern, Kai-min Chang & Charles Kemp
Psychological Review, April 2014, Pages 206-224

Abstract:
Belief polarization occurs when 2 people with opposing prior beliefs both strengthen their beliefs after observing the same data. Many authors have cited belief polarization as evidence of irrational behavior. We show, however, that some instances of polarization are consistent with a normative account of belief revision. Our analysis uses Bayesian networks to characterize different kinds of relationships between hypotheses and data, and distinguishes between cases in which normative reasoners with opposing beliefs should both strengthen their beliefs, cases in which both should weaken their beliefs, and cases in which one should strengthen and the other should weaken his or her belief. We apply our analysis to several previous studies of belief polarization and present a new experiment that suggests that people tend to update their beliefs in the directions predicted by our normative account.

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The Consequences of Broader Media Choice: Evidence from the Expansion of Fox News

Daniel Hopkins & Jonathan Ladd
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Winter 2014, Pages 115-135

Abstract:
In recent decades, the diversity of Americans' news choices has expanded substantially. This paper examines whether access to an ideologically distinctive news source — the Fox News cable channel — influences vote intentions and whether any such effect is concentrated among those likely to agree with Fox's partisan viewpoint. To test these possibilities with individual-level data, we identify local Fox News availability for 22,595 respondents to the 2000 National Annenberg Election Survey. Overall, we find a pro-Republican average treatment effect that is statistically indistinguishable from zero. Yet, when separating respondents by party, we find a sizable effect of Fox access only on the vote intentions of Republicans and pure independents, a result that is bolstered by placebo tests. Contrary to fears about pervasive media influence, access to an ideologically distinctive media source reinforces the loyalties of co-partisans and possibly persuades independents without influencing out-partisans.

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Nominal Partisanship: Names as Political Identity Signals

R. Urbatsch
PS: Political Science & Politics, April 2014, Pages 463-467

Abstract:
Sending a signal of partisan identity carries greater expressive benefit, but also greater expected cost, for members of the public when they are more exposed to adherents of the other party. To see whether the cost or the benefit dominates in the decision to send partisan signals, this article considers partisan signals sent by names of newborns, particularly girls named “Reagan,” in US state-years from 1976 to 2011. Results indicate that the benefits of expressing identity increase more than do costs in the face of a large out-group: higher proportions of Democrats in a state increase the relationship between Republican populations and the tendency to name daughters “Reagan.”

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The “Deliberative Digital Divide:” Opinion Leadership and Integrative Complexity in the U.S. Political Blogosphere

Jennifer Brundidge et al.
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined the association between political ideology and linguistic indicators of integrative complexity and opinion leadership in U.S. political blog posts (N = 519). Using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) text analysis, we found that the posts of conservative bloggers were more integratively simple than those of liberal bloggers. Furthermore, in support of a proposed opinion leadership model of integrative complexity, the relationship between ideology and integrative complexity was mediated by psychological distancing (an indicator of a hierarchical communication style). These findings demonstrate an ideological divide in the extent to which the blogosphere reflects deliberative democratic ideals.

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Genetic Influences on Political Ideologies: Twin Analyses of 19 Measures of Political Ideologies from Five Democracies and Genome-Wide Findings from Three Populations

Peter Hatemi et al.
Behavior Genetics, May 2014, Pages 282-294

Abstract:
Almost 40 years ago, evidence from large studies of adult twins and their relatives suggested that between 30 and 60 % of the variance in social and political attitudes could be explained by genetic influences. However, these findings have not been widely accepted or incorporated into the dominant paradigms that explain the etiology of political ideology. This has been attributed in part to measurement and sample limitations, as well the relative absence of molecular genetic studies. Here we present results from original analyses of a combined sample of over 12,000 twins pairs, ascertained from nine different studies conducted in five democracies, sampled over the course of four decades. We provide evidence that genetic factors play a role in the formation of political ideology, regardless of how ideology is measured, the era, or the population sampled. The only exception is a question that explicitly uses the phrase “Left–Right”. We then present results from one of the first genome-wide association studies on political ideology using data from three samples: a 1990 Australian sample involving 6,894 individuals from 3,516 families; a 2008 Australian sample of 1,160 related individuals from 635 families and a 2010 Swedish sample involving 3,334 individuals from 2,607 families. No polymorphisms reached genome-wide significance in the meta-analysis. The combined evidence suggests that political ideology constitutes a fundamental aspect of one’s genetically informed psychological disposition, but as Fisher proposed long ago, genetic influences on complex traits will be composed of thousands of markers of very small effects and it will require extremely large samples to have enough power in order to identify specific polymorphisms related to complex social traits.

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Homophily in the Guise of Cross-Linking: Political Blogs and Content

Karine Nahon & Jeff Hemsley
American Behavioral Scientist, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the behavior of influential political blogs (conservative and liberal) in reference to external viral content during March 2007 and June 2009. We analyze homophily and cross-ideological (heterophily) practices. We propose a multidimensional model that employs both qualitative and quantitative methods for examining homophily behaviors by looking at three dimensions: blog-to-blog, blog-to-video, blog post-to-video. Findings show that while homophily patterns prevail, some limited occurrences of cross-ideological practices exist. The cross-linking practices may include deliberative motives, but in essence they are not created for the purposes of discourse. Instead, these cross-linking practices strengthen previously held political stances of the users who create them and negatively portray and reframe content of alternative views. This represents homophily in the guise of cross-linking.

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Implications of Pro- and Counterattitudinal Information Exposure for Affective Polarization

Kelly Garrett et al.
Human Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The American electorate is characterized by political polarization, and especially by increasingly negative affective responses toward opposing party members. To what extent might this be attributed to exposure to information reinforcing individuals' partisan identity versus information representing the views of partisan opponents? And is this a uniquely American phenomenon? This study uses survey data collected immediately following recent national elections in two countries, the United States and Israel, to address these questions. Results across the two nations are generally consistent, and indicate that pro- and counterattitudinal information exposure has distinct influences on perceptions of and attitudes toward members of opposing parties, despite numerous cross-cultural differences. We discuss implications in light of recent evidence about partisans' tendency to engage in selective exposure.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, May 29, 2014

On drugs

The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Marijuana, Alcohol, and Hard Drug Use

Hefei Wen, Jason Hockenberry & Janet Cummings
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
21 states and the District of Columbia currently have laws that permit marijuana use for medical purposes, often termed medical marijuana laws (MMLs). We tested the effects of MMLs adopted in seven states between 2004 and 2011 on adolescent and adult marijuana, alcohol, and hard drug use. We employed a restricted-access version of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) micro-level data with geographic identifiers. For those 21 and older, we found that MMLs led to a relative increase in the probability of marijuana use of 16 percent, an increase in marijuana use frequency of 12-17 percent, and an increase in the probability of marijuana abuse/dependence of 15-27 percent. For those 12-20 years old, we found a relative increase in marijuana use initiation of 5-6 percent. Among those aged 21 or above, MMLs increased the frequency of binge drinking by 6-9 percent, but MMLs did not affect drinking behavior among those 12-20 years old. MMLs had no discernible impact on hard drug use in either age group. Taken together, MML implementation increases marijuana use mainly among those over 21, where there is also a spillover effect of increased binge drinking, but there is no evidence of spillovers to other substance use.

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The Dow is Killing Me: Risky Health Behaviors and the Stock Market

Chad Cotti, Richard Dunn & Nathan Tefft
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate how risky health behaviors and self-reported health vary with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and during stock market crashes. Because stock market indices are leading indicators of economic performance, this research contributes to our understanding of the macroeconomic determinants of health. Existing studies typically rely on the unemployment rate to proxy for economic performance, but this measure captures only one of many channels through which the economic environment may influence individual health decisions. We find that large, negative monthly DJIA returns, decreases in the level of the DJIA, and stock market crashes are widely associated with worsening self-reported mental health and more cigarette smoking, binge drinking, and fatal car accidents involving alcohol. These results are consistent with predictions from rational addiction models and have implications for research on the association between consumption and stock prices.

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Life Stress in Adolescence Predicts Early Adult Reward-related Brain Function and Alcohol Dependence

Melynda Casement et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Stressful life events increase vulnerability to problematic alcohol use, and they may do this by disrupting reward-related neural circuitry. This is particularly relevant for adolescents because alcohol use rises sharply after mid-adolescence and alcohol abuse peaks at age 20. Adolescents also report more stressors compared to children, and neural reward circuitry may be especially vulnerable to stressors during adolescence due to prefrontal cortex remodeling. Using a large sample of male participants in a longitudinal fMRI study (N = 157), we evaluated whether cumulative stressful life events between the ages of 15 and 18 were associated with reward-related brain function and problematic alcohol use at age 20. Higher cumulative stressful life events during adolescence were associated with decreased response in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) during monetary reward anticipation and following the receipt of monetary rewards. Stress-related decreases in mPFC response during reward anticipation and following rewarding outcomes were associated with the severity of alcohol dependence. Furthermore, mPFC response mediated the association between stressful life events and later symptoms of alcohol dependence. These data are consistent with neurobiological models of addiction that propose that stressors during adolescence increase risk for problematic alcohol use by disrupting reward circuit function.

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Cannabis use and violence: Is there a link?

Thor Norström & Ingeborg Rossow
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, June 2014, Pages 358-363

Background: While several studies suggest that cannabis users are at increased risk of interpersonal violence, it is not clear to what extent the association is causal. Our paper aims to assess the association between cannabis use and violence by using a method that diminishes the risk of confounding.

Methods: We analysed data on cannabis use and violent behaviour from the second (1994) and third (1999) waves of the Young in Norway Longitudinal Study (cumulative response rate: 68.1%, n = 2681). We applied fixed-effects modelling to estimate the association between these behaviours, implying that changes in the frequency of violence were regressed on changes in the frequency of cannabis use. The effects of time-invariant confounders were hence eliminated. In addition, we included two time-varying covariates.

Results: The elasticity estimate implies that a 10% increase in cannabis use frequency is associated with a 0.4% increase in frequency of violence (p=.024).

Conclusions: Analyses of panel data on Norwegian youths reveals a statistically significant association between cannabis use and violence.

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Is Smoking Inferior? Evidence from Variation in the Earned Income Tax Credit

Donald Kenkel, Maximilian Schmeiser & Carly Urban
NBER Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
In this paper we estimate the causal income elasticity of smoking participation, cessation, and cigarette demand conditional upon participation. Using an instrumental variables (IV) estimation strategy we find that smoking appears to be a normal good among low-income adults: higher instrumented income is associated with an increase in the number of cigarettes consumed and a decrease in smoking cessation. The magnitude and direction of the changes in the income coefficients from our OLS to IV estimates are consistent with the hypothesis that correlational estimates between income and smoking related outcomes are biased by unobservable characteristics that differentiate higher income smokers from lower income smokers.

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Temporal trends in marijuana attitudes, availability and use in Colorado compared to non-medical marijuana states: 2003-2011

Joseph Schuermeyer et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: In 2009, policy changes were accompanied by a rapid increase in the number of medical marijuana cardholders in Colorado. Little published epidemiological work has tracked changes in the state around this time.

Methods: Using the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, we tested for temporal changes in marijuana attitudes and marijuana-use-related outcomes in Colorado (2003-2011) and differences within-year between Colorado and thirty-four non-medical-marijuana states (NMMS). Using regression analyses, we further tested whether patterns seen in Colorado prior to (2006-8) and during (2009-11) marijuana commercialization differed from patterns in NMMS while controlling for demographics.

Results: Within Colorado those reporting “great-risk” to using marijuana 1-2 times/week dropped significantly in all age groups studied between 2007-8 and 2010-11 (e.g. from 45% to 31% among those 26 years and older; p = 0.0006). By 2010-11 past-year marijuana abuse/dependence had become more prevalent in Colorado for 12-17 year olds (5% in Colorado, 3% in NMMS; p = 0.03) and 18-25 year olds (9% vs. 5%; p = 0.02). Regressions demonstrated significantly greater reductions in perceived risk (12-17 year olds, p = 0.005; those 26 years and older, p = 0.01), and trend for difference in changes in availability among those 26 years and older and marijuana abuse/dependence among 12-17 year olds in Colorado compared to NMMS in more recent years (2009-11 vs. 2006-8).

Conclusions: Our results show that commercialization of marijuana in Colorado has been associated with lower risk perception. Evidence is suggestive for marijuana abuse/dependence. Analyses including subsequent years 2012+ once available, will help determine whether such changes represent momentary vs. sustained effects.

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The Changing Face of Heroin Use in the United States: A Retrospective Analysis of the Past 50 Years

Theodore Cicero et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Design, Setting, and Participants: Using a mixed-methods approach, we analyzed (1) data from an ongoing study that uses structured, self-administered surveys to gather retrospective data on past drug use patterns among patients entering substance abuse treatment programs across the country who received a primary (DSM-IV) diagnosis of heroin use/dependence (n = 2797) and (2) data from unstructured qualitative interviews with a subset of patients (n = 54) who completed the structured interview.

Main Outcomes and Measures: In addition to data on population demographics and current residential location, we used cross-tabulations to assess prevalence rates as a function of the decade of the initiation of abuse for (1) first opioid used (prescription opioid or heroin), (2) sex, (3) race/ethnicity, and (4) age at first use. Respondents indicated in an open-ended format why they chose heroin as their primary drug and the interrelationship between their use of heroin and their use of prescription opioids.

Results: Approximately 85% of treatment-seeking patients approached to complete the Survey of Key Informants’ Patients Program did so. Respondents who began using heroin in the 1960s were predominantly young men (82.8%; mean age, 16.5 years) whose first opioid of abuse was heroin (80%). However, more recent users were older (mean age, 22.9 years) men and women living in less urban areas (75.2%) who were introduced to opioids through prescription drugs (75.0%). Whites and nonwhites were equally represented in those initiating use prior to the 1980s, but nearly 90% of respondents who began use in the last decade were white. Although the “high” produced by heroin was described as a significant factor in its selection, it was often used because it was more readily accessible and much less expensive than prescription opioids.

Conclusion and Relevance: Our data show that the demographic composition of heroin users entering treatment has shifted over the last 50 years such that heroin use has changed from an inner-city, minority-centered problem to one that has a more widespread geographical distribution, involving primarily white men and women in their late 20s living outside of large urban areas.

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Portrayal of Alcohol Consumption in Movies and Drinking Initiation in Low-Risk Adolescents

Reiner Hanewinkel et al.
Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objectives: To investigate the hypothesis that exposure to alcohol consumption in movies affects the likelihood that low-risk adolescents will start to drink alcohol.

Methods: Longitudinal study of 2346 adolescent never drinkers who also reported at baseline intent to not to do so in the next 12 months (mean age 12.9 years, SD = 1.08). Recruitment was carried out in 2009 and 2010 in 112 state-funded schools in Germany, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, and Scotland. Exposure to movie alcohol consumption was estimated from 250 top-grossing movies in each country in the years 2004 to 2009. Multilevel mixed-effects Poisson regressions assessed the relationship between baseline exposure to movie alcohol consumption and initiation of trying alcohol, and binge drinking (≥ 5 consecutive drinks) at follow-up.

Results: Overall, 40% of the sample initiated alcohol use and 6% initiated binge drinking by follow-up. Estimated mean exposure to movie alcohol consumption was 3653 (SD = 2448) occurrences. After age, gender, family affluence, school performance, TV screen time, personality characteristics, and drinking behavior of peers, parents, and siblings were controlled for, exposure to each additional 1000 movie alcohol occurrences was significantly associated with increased relative risk for trying alcohol, incidence rate ratio = 1.05 (95% confidence interval, 1.02–1.08; P = .003), and for binge drinking, incidence rate ratio = 1.13 (95% confidence interval, 1.06–1.20; P < .001).

Conclusions: Seeing alcohol depictions in movies is an independent predictor of drinking initiation, particularly for more risky patterns of drinking. This result was shown in a heterogeneous sample of European youths who had a low affinity for drinking alcohol at the time of exposure.

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The Effect of Positive and Negative Movie Alcohol Portrayals on Transportation and Attitude Toward the Movie

Renske Koordeman, Doeschka Anschutz & Rutger Engels
Alcoholism, forthcoming

Background: This study examined the effects of alcohol portrayals on transportation and attitude toward a movie. In addition, we examined whether positive and negative movie alcohol portrayals affect transportation into and attitude toward the movie.

Methods: A within-subject design was used in which participants were exposed to 8 different movie clips containing alcohol (positive or negative context) or no alcohol portrayals in a controlled laboratory setting. A total of 159 college students (84 males and 75 females) ages 18 to 30 participated in the experiment. Transportation and attitude toward the movie were measured after each movie clip.

Results: Participants were more transported into and had a more positive attitude toward movie clips with alcohol portrayals compared to the same movie clips with no alcohol portrayal. In addition, participants were more transported into movie clips with negative alcohol (NA) portrayals compared to clips with positive alcohol (PA) portrayals. For attitude toward the movie, opposite results were found. Participants had a more positive attitudes toward clips with PA portrayals compared to clips with NA portrayals.

Conclusions: The way alcohol is portrayed in movies may contribute to how people evaluate and get transported in movies.

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Tobacco use vs. helminths in Congo basin hunter-gatherers: Self-medication in humans?

Casey Roulette et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
We tested a novel hypothesis that recreational use of neurotoxic plants helps defend against parasites. Specifically, we investigated the relationship between smoking and helminthiasis among the Aka, a remote population of Central African foragers who are avid tobacco smokers, suffer high rates of helminthiasis, and have little-to-no access to commercial anthelmintics. Two hundred and six healthy Aka men provided saliva and stool samples. Saliva samples were assayed for cotinine, a nicotine metabolite; a subsample was genotyped for the CYP2A6 enzyme, which metabolizes nicotine. Stool samples were assayed for intestinal helminth eggs as an index of worm burden. After 1 year, a subsample of participants was located and provided additional saliva and stool samples. We found (1) an exceptionally high prevalence of tobacco use, (2) a strong negative correlation between cotinine (a nicotine metabolite) and worm burden, (3) that treating helminths with albendazole, a commercial anthelmintic, reduced cotinine concentration two weeks later, compared to placebo controls, (4) among treated participants, higher cotinine concentrations in year 1 predicted less reinfection by year 2, and (5) younger and older participants with slow nicotine-metabolizing CYP2A6 alleles had lower worm burdens compared to those with extensive metabolizing alleles. These results provide the first evidence of a link between helminthiasis and smoking. They also suggest that, in populations where intestinal helminths are endemic, tobacco use might protect against helminth infection and reduce worm burden among infected individuals, and that individuals modulate nicotine exposure in response to infection. The results thus support the hypothesis that substance use helps defend against parasites.

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With a Little Help from My Friends? Asymmetrical Social Influence on Adolescent Smoking Initiation and Cessation

Steven Haas & David Schaefer
Journal of Health and Social Behavior, June 2014, Pages 126-143

Abstract:
This study investigates whether peer influence on smoking among adolescents is asymmetrical. We hypothesize that several features of smoking lead peers to have a stronger effect on smoking initiation than cessation. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health we estimate a dynamic network model that includes separate effects for increases versus decreases in smoking, while also controlling for endogenous network change. We find that the impact of peer influence is stronger for the initiation of smoking than smoking cessation. Adolescents rarely initiate smoking without peer influence but will cease smoking while their friends continue smoking. We discuss the implications of these results for theories of peer influence and health policy.

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Effect of Prenatal Exposure to Tobacco Smoke on Inhibitory Control: Neuroimaging Results From a 25-Year Prospective Study

Nathalie Holz et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, forthcoming

Objective: To clarify the influence of maternal smoking during pregnancy (hereafter referred to as prenatal smoking) on the neural circuitry of response inhibition and its association with related behavioral phenotypes such as ADHD and novelty seeking in the mother’s offspring.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Functional magnetic resonance imaging was performed for the offspring at 25 years of age during a modified Eriksen flanker/NoGo task, and voxel-based morphometry was performed to study brain volume differences of the offspring. Prenatal smoking (1-5 cigarettes per day [14 mothers] or >5 cigarettes per day [24 mothers]) and lifetime ADHD symptoms were determined using standardized parent interviews at the offspring’s age of 3 months and over a period of 13 years (from 2 to 15 years of age), respectively. Novelty seeking was assessed at 19 years of age. Analyses were adjusted for sex, parental postnatal smoking, psychosocial and obstetric adversity, maternal prenatal stress, and lifetime substance abuse. A total of 178 young adults (73 males) without current psychopathology from a community sample followed since birth (Mannheim, Germany) participated in the study.

Results: Participants prenatally exposed to nicotine exhibited a weaker response in the anterior cingulate cortex (t168 = 4.46; peak Montreal Neurological Institute [MNI] coordinates x = −2, y = 20, z = 30; familywise error [FWE]–corrected P = .003), the right inferior frontal gyrus (t168 = 3.65; peak MNI coordinates x = 44, y = 38, z = 12; FWE-corrected P = .04), the left inferior frontal gyrus (t168 = 4.09; peak MNI coordinates x = −38, y = 36, z = 8; FWE-corrected P = .009), and the supramarginal gyrus (t168 = 5.03; peak MNI coordinates x = 64, y = −28, z = 22; FWE-corrected P = .02) during the processing of the NoGo compared to neutral stimuli, while presenting a decreased volume in the right inferior frontal gyrus. These findings were obtained irrespective of the adjustment of confounders, ADHD symptoms, and novelty seeking. There was an inverse relationship between inferior frontal gyrus activity and ADHD symptoms and between anterior cingulate cortex activity and novelty seeking.

Conclusions and Relevance: These findings point to a functional involvement of prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke in neural alterations similar to ADHD, which underlines the importance of smoking prevention treatments.

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Smoking Bans, Maternal Smoking and Birth Outcomes

Prashant Bharadwaj, Julian Johnsen & Katrine Løken
Journal of Public Economics, July 2014, Pages 72–93

Abstract:
An important externality of smoking is the harm it might cause to those who do not smoke. This paper examines the impact on birth outcomes of children of female workers who are affected by smoking bans in the workplace. Analyzing a 2004 law change in Norway that extended smoking restrictions to bars and restaurants, we find that children of female workers in restaurants and bars born after the law change saw significantly lower rates of being born below the very low birth weight (VLBW) threshold and were less likely to be born pre-term. We do not find an effect of the ban along other birth outcomes like APGAR scores and birth defects. Using detailed data on smoking status during pregnancy we find that most of the health benefits come from changes in smoking behavior of the mother. Using individual tax data, we find that the law change did not result in changes in earnings or employment opportunities for those affected, suggesting that the effects seen are likely a direct result of changes in smoke exposure in utero.

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Understanding the links between education and smoking

Vida Maralani
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study extends the theoretical and empirical literature on the relationship between education and smoking by focusing on the life course links between experiences from adolescence and health outcomes in adulthood. Differences in smoking by completed education are apparent at ages 12 to 18, long before that education is acquired. I use characteristics from the teenage years, including social networks, future expectations, and school experiences measured before the start of smoking regularly to predict smoking in adulthood. Results show that school policies, peers, and youths’ mortality expectations predict smoking in adulthood but that college aspirations and analytical skills do not. I also show that smoking status at age 16 predicts both completed education and adult smoking, controlling for an extensive set of covariates. Overall, educational inequalities in smoking are better understood as a bundling of advantageous statuses that develops in childhood, rather than the effect of education producing better health.

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Trends in drug use among drivers killed in U.S. traffic crashes, 1999–2010

Toni Rudisill et al.
Accident Analysis & Prevention, September 2014, Pages 178–187

Objective: Driving under the influence of drugs is a global traffic safety and public health concern. This trend analysis examines the changes in general drug usage other than alcohol, broad categories, and typical prescription and illegal drugs among drivers fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes from 1999 to 2010 in the U.S.

Methods: Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System were analyzed from 1999 to 2010. Drug prevalence rates and prevalence ratios (PR) were determined comparing rates in 2009–2010 to 1999–2000 using a random effects model. Changes in general drug usage, broad categories, and representative prescription and illegal drugs including, methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and cocaine, were explored.

Results: Comparing 2009–2010 to 1999–2000, prevalence of drug usage increased 49% (PR = 1.49; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.42, 1.55). The largest increases in broad drug categories were narcotics (PR = 2.73; 95% CI 2.41, 3.08), depressants (PR = 2.01; 95% CI 1.80, 2.25), and cannabinoids (PR = 1.99; 95% CI 1.84, 2.16). The PR were 6.37 (95% CI 5.07, 8.02) for hydrocodone/oxycodone, 4.29 (95% CI 2.88, 6.37) for methadone, and 2.27 (95% CI 2.00, 2.58) for benzodiazepines. Barbiturates declined in rate over the 12-year period (PR = 0.53; 95% CI 0.37, 0.75). Cocaine use increased until 2005 then progressively declined, though the rate remained relatively unchanged (PR = 0.94; 95% CI 0.84, 1.06).

Conclusions: While more drivers are being tested and found drug-positive, there is evidence that a shift from illegal to prescription drugs may be occurring among fatally injured drivers in the U.S. Driving under the influence of prescription drugs is a growing traffic concern.

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Trends in fatal motor vehicle crashes before and after marijuana commercialization in Colorado

Stacy Salomonsen-Sautel et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Legal medical marijuana has been commercially available on a widespread basis in Colorado since mid-2009; however, there is a dearth of information about the impact of marijuana commercialization on impaired driving. This study examined if the proportions of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were marijuana-positive and alcohol-impaired, respectively, have changed in Colorado before and after mid-2009 and then compared changes in Colorado with 34 non-medical marijuana states (NMMS).

Methods: Thirty-six 6-month intervals (1994–2011) from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System were used to examine temporal changes in the proportions of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were alcohol-impaired (≥ 0.08 g/dl) and marijuana-positive, respectively. The pre-commercial marijuana time period in Colorado was defined as 1994–June 2009 while July 2009–2011 represented the post-commercialization period.

Results: In Colorado, since mid-2009 when medical marijuana became commercially available and prevalent, the trend became positive in the proportion of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were marijuana-positive (change in trend, 2.16 (0.45), p < 0.0001); in contrast, no significant changes were seen in NMMS. For both Colorado and NMMS, no significant changes were seen in the proportion of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were alcohol-impaired.

Conclusions: Prevention efforts and policy changes in Colorado are needed to address this concerning trend in marijuana-positive drivers. In addition, education on the risks of marijuana-positive driving needs to be implemented.

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The effects of social and health consequence framing on heavy drinking intentions among college students

John Kingsbury, Frederick Gibbons & Meg Gerrard
British Journal of Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objectives: Many interventions targeting college student drinking have focused on negative health effects of drinking heavily; however, some research suggests that social factors may have a stronger influence on the drinking behaviour of young people. Moreover, few studies have examined message framing effects in the context of alcohol consumption. This study investigated the effects of social and health consequence framing on college students' intentions to engage in heavy drinking.

Methods: One hundred and twenty-four college students (74 women; Mage = 18.9) participated in this study for course credit. Participants read vignettes that were ostensibly written by a recent graduate from the university, who described an episode of drinking in which he or she experienced either social or health consequences. These consequences were framed as either a gain (i.e., positive consequences of not drinking heavily) or a loss (i.e., negative consequences of drinking heavily). After reading the vignette, participants completed a measure of heavy drinking intentions.

Results: Regression analyses revealed that social consequences were associated with lower heavy drinking intentions when framed as a loss and that health consequences were associated with lower heavy drinking intentions when framed as a gain. These effects were stronger among those who reported higher (vs. lower) levels of previous drinking.

Conclusions: Results suggest that interventions that focus on the negative health effects of heavy drinking may be improved by instead emphasizing the negative social consequences of drinking heavily and the positive health consequences of avoiding this behaviour.

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Prenatal Drug Exposure, Behavioral Problems, and Drug Experimentation Among African-American Urban Adolescents

Yan Wang et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: To examine how prenatal drug exposure (PDE) to heroin/cocaine and behavioral problems relate to adolescent drug experimentation.

Methods: The sample included African-American adolescents (mean age = 14.2 years, SD = 1.2) with PDE (n = 73) and a nonexposed community comparison (n = 61). PDE status was determined at delivery through toxicology analysis and maternal report. Internalizing/externalizing problems were assessed during adolescence with the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition. Drug experimentation was assessed by adolescent report and urine analysis. Logistic regression evaluated the likelihood of drug experimentation related to PDE and behavioral problems, adjusting for age, gender, PDE, perceived peer drug use, and caregiver drug use. Interaction terms examined gender modification.

Results: Sixty-seven subjects (50%) used drugs: 25 (19%) used tobacco/alcohol only and 42 (31%) used marijuana/illegal drugs. Ninety-four subjects (70%) perceived peer drug use. PDE significantly increased the risk of tobacco/alcohol experimentation (odds ratio = 3.07, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.09–8.66, p = .034) but not after covariate adjustment (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.16, 95% CI .31–4.33, p > .05). PDE was not related to the overall or marijuana/illegal drug experimentation. The likelihood of overall drug experimentation was doubled per SD increase in externalizing problems (aOR = 2.28, 95% CI 1.33–3.91, p = .003) and, among girls, 2.82 times greater (aOR = 2.82, 95% CI 1.34–5.94, p = .006) per SD increase in internalizing problems. Age and perceived peer drug use were significant covariates.

Conclusions: Drug experimentation was relatively common (50%), especially in the context of externalizing problems, internalizing problems (girls only), older age, and perceived peer drug use. Findings support the Problem Behavior Theory and suggest that adolescent drug prevention addresses behavioral problems and promotes prosocial peer groups.

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Self-Reported Lifetime Marijuana Use and Interleukin-6 Levels In Middle-Aged African Americans

Larry Keen, Deidre Pereira & William Latimer
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Research examining the relationship between marijuana and cytokine function has been well developed in the biochemical literature. However, scant literature exists regarding this relationship between inflammatory markers and marijuana use in public health or behavioral studies and is virtually nonexistent in non-neurologically compromised African American samples.

Methods. The current study examined the differences in serum interleukin-6 (IL-6), a proinflammatory cytokine, between non-drug users (n = 78), marijuana only users (n = 46) and marijuana plus other drugs users (n = 45) in a community-based sample of middle aged, African Americans. Participants included 169 African American adults (50.30% female), with a mean age of 45.68 years (SD = 11.72 years) from the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Serum was drawn upon entry into the study and the participants completed a demographic questionnaire, which included questions regarding drug use history.

Results. After adjusting for demographic and physiological covariates, analysis of covariance revealed a significant difference between the three groups, F(2,158) = 3.08, p = 0.04). Post hoc analyses revealed lifetime marijuana only users had significantly lower IL-6 levels (M = 2.20 pg/mL, SD = 1.93) than their lifetime nonuser counterparts (M = 3.73 pg/mL, SD = 6.28). No other comparisons among the groups were statistically significantly different.

Conclusion. The current findings extend previous cellular and biochemical literature, which identifies an inverse association between IL-6 and marijuana use. Examining this relationship in the psychological and behavioral literature could be informative to the development of clinical interventions for inflammatory diseases.

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The effect of retirement on alcohol consumption: Results from the US Health and Retirement Study

Xu Wang, Jessica Steier & William Gallo
European Journal of Public Health, June 2014, Pages 485-489

Background: Prior research examining the association between retirement and alcohol consumption is inconsistent with respect to salience, direction and magnitude. Reasonable conceptual arguments for both positive (e.g. coping, introduction of leisure time) and negative (e.g. severance of work-related social relationships) changes further complicate investigations of this critical association, as do differences in study design, national setting and measurement of alcohol use.

Methods: This prospective longitudinal study analyses 2-year wave-pairs drawn from seven waves (14 years) of data from the US Health and Retirement Study to assess the effect of complete retirement on weekly alcohol consumption (n = 9979 observations; 4674 unique participants). We use multiple regression analysis in a two-period follow-up design and account for potential selection bias and reverse causality not addressed in prior research on this topic.

Results: We find that retirement is positively associated with subsequent weekly alcohol consumption for men who reported drinking at both follow-up and the prior study wave (β = 1.9, 95% confidence interval = 0.43–3.36). No association was observed among women.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that health care professionals should monitor the drinking habits of retired men, as older individuals are particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of heavy alcohol use.

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A Smartphone Application to Support Recovery From Alcoholism: A Randomized Clinical Trial

David Gustafson et al.
JAMA Psychiatry, May 2014, Pages 566-572

Objective: To determine whether patients leaving residential treatment for alcohol use disorders with a smartphone application to support recovery have fewer risky drinking days than control patients.

Design, Setting, and Participants: An unmasked randomized clinical trial involving 3 residential programs operated by 1 nonprofit treatment organization in the Midwestern United States and 2 residential programs operated by 1 nonprofit organization in the Northeastern United States. In total, 349 patients who met the criteria for DSM-IV alcohol dependence when they entered residential treatment were randomized to treatment as usual (n = 179) or treatment as usual plus a smartphone (n = 170) with the Addiction–Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-CHESS), an application designed to improve continuing care for alcohol use disorders.

Interventions: Treatment as usual varied across programs; none offered patients coordinated continuing care after discharge. A-CHESS provides monitoring, information, communication, and support services to patients, including ways for patients and counselors to stay in contact. The intervention and follow-up period lasted 8 and 4 months, respectively.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Risky drinking days — the number of days during which a patient’s drinking in a 2-hour period exceeded 4 standard drinks for men and 3 standard drinks for women, with standard drink defined as one that contains roughly 14 g of pure alcohol (12 oz of regular beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of distilled spirits). Patients were asked to report their risky drinking days in the previous 30 days on surveys taken 4, 8, and 12 months after discharge from residential treatment.

Results: For the 8 months of the intervention and 4 months of follow-up, patients in the A-CHESS group reported significantly fewer risky drinking days than did patients in the control group, with a mean of 1.39 vs 2.75 days (mean difference, 1.37; 95% CI, 0.46-2.27; P = .003).

Conclusions and Relevance: The findings suggest that a multifeatured smartphone application may have significant benefit to patients in continuing care for alcohol use disorders.

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Frequent binge drinking five to six years after exposure to 9/11: Findings from the World Trade Center Health Registry

Alice Welch et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Exposure to 9/11 may have considerable long-term impact on health behaviors, including increased alcohol consumption. We examined the association between frequent binge drinking, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and number of 9/11-specific experiences among World Trade Center Health Registry (Registry) enrollees five-to-six years after 9/11.

Methods: Participants included 41,284 lower Manhattan residents, workers, passers-by and rescue/recovery workers aged 18 or older without a pre-9/11 PTSD diagnosis who completed Wave 1 (2003-04) and Wave 2 (2006-07) interviews. Frequent binge drinking was defined as consuming five or more drinks on five or more occasions in the prior 30 days at Wave 2. Probable PTSD was defined as scoring 44 or greater on the PTSD Checklist. 9/11 exposure was measured as the sum of 12 experiences and grouped as none/low (0-1), medium (2-3), high (4-5) and very high (6 + ).

Results: Frequent binge drinking was significantly associated with increasing 9/11 exposure and PTSD. Those with very high and high exposures had a higher prevalence of frequent binge drinking (13.7% and 9.8%, respectively) than those with medium and low exposures (7.5% and 4.4%, respectively). Upon stratification, very high and high exposures were associated with frequent binge drinking in both the PTSD and no PTSD subgroups.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that 9/11 exposure had an impact on frequent binge drinking five-to-six years later among Registry enrollees. Understanding the effects of traumatic exposure on alcohol use is important to identify risk factors for post-disaster alcohol misuse, inform policy, and improve post-disaster psychological and alcohol screening and counseling.

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Spicing up the military: Use and effects of synthetic cannabis in substance abusing army personnel

Denise Walker et al.
Addictive Behaviors, July 2014, Pages 1139–1144

Abstract:
Synthetic cannabis (SC) use has been increasing within the United States. Due to difficulties with its detection through standard testing, it may be an attractive substance of abuse for military personnel. However, few studies have examined the consequences of its use in this population, including evidence for its potential for abuse and dependence. Participants included 368 active-duty Army personnel who expressed interest in participating in a “check-up” around their alcohol or substance use, of whom 294 (80%) met DSM-IV criteria for substance abuse or dependence (including alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription medications) and were not engaged in substance abuse treatment. Forty-one participants (11%) reported using SC in the last 90 days. Of those, 27 listed SC as their drug of choice. There were no significant differences in race, ethnicity, deployment history, or religion between SC users and others. Users of SC were generally younger and had less education and income than those who used only alcohol. Among SC users, 12% met criteria for drug abuse and 68% for dependence. Participants perceived SC use to be significantly more prevalent among military personnel than among civilians. Results suggest that SC is prevalent among substance-using soldiers and that DSM-IV criteria for abuse and dependence apply to SC. In addition, results highlight the importance of assessing and treating SC use among active-duty military personnel.

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Profiting and Providing Less Care: Comprehensive Services at For-Profit, Nonprofit, and Public Opioid Treatment Programs in the United States

Marcus Bachhuber, William Southern & Chinazo Cunningham
Medical Care, May 2014, Pages 428-434

Objective: To compare the proportion of for-profit, nonprofit, and public opioid treatment programs offering comprehensive services, which are not mandated by government regulations.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Cross-sectional analysis of opioid treatment programs offering outpatient care in the United States (n=1036).

Main Outcome Measure: Self-reported offering of communicable disease (HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and viral hepatitis) testing, psychiatric services (screening, assessment and diagnostic evaluation, and pharmacotherapy), and social services support (assistance in applying for programs such as Medicaid). Mixed-effects logistic regression models were developed to adjust for several county-level factors.

Results: Of opioid treatment programs, 58.0% were for profit, 33.5% were nonprofit, and 8.5% were public. Nonprofit programs were more likely than for-profit programs to offer testing for all communicable diseases [adjusted odds ratios (AOR), 1.7; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.2, 2.5], all psychiatric services (AOR, 8.0; 95% CI, 4.9, 13.1), and social services support (AOR, 3.3; 95% CI, 2.3, 4.8). Public programs were also more likely than for-profit programs to offer communicable disease testing (AOR, 6.4; 95% CI, 3.5, 11.7), all psychiatric services (AOR, 25.8; 95% CI, 12.6, 52.5), and social services support (AOR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.4, 4.3).

Conclusions: For-profit programs were significantly less likely than nonprofit and public programs to offer comprehensive services. Interventions to increase the offering of comprehensive services are needed, particularly among for-profit programs.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Earth, sea, and sky

How Effective Are US Renewable Energy Subsidies in Cutting Greenhouse Gases?

Brian Murray et al.
American Economic Review, May 2014, Pages 569-574

Abstract:
The federal tax code provides preferential treatment for the production and use of renewable energy. We report estimates of the subsidies' effects on greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions developed in a recent National Research Council (NRC) Report. Due to lack of estimates of the impact of tax provisions on GHG emissions, new modeling studies were commissioned. The studies found, at best, a small impact of subsidies in reducing GHG emissions; in some cases, emissions increased. The NRC report also identified the need to capture the complex interactions among subsidies, pre-existing regulations, and commodity markets.

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Impact of natural disaster on public sector corruption

Eiji Yamamura
Public Choice, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper uses inter-country panel data from 1990 through 2010 to examine how the occurrence of natural disasters affects corruption within the public sector. For a closer analysis, disaster is classified into various categories, including general floods, other floods, tropical storms, other storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides. Furthermore, this paper explores whether natural disasters have different impacts on corruption levels in developed and developing countries. The study reveals a number of novel findings. (1) Natural disasters that cause substantial damage increase public sector corruption in both developing and developed countries. (2) Natural disasters have a greater impact on public sector corruption in developed countries than in developing countries. (3) In developed countries, natural disaster frequency has a significant impact on the level of corruption. Hence, foreseeable disasters increase corruption in general. In developed countries, an incentive may exist to live within disaster-prone areas because of the potential for disaster compensation payments.

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Increasing Storm Tides in New York Harbor, 1844-2013

S.A. Talke, P. Orton & D.A. Jay
Geophysical Research Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Three of the nine highest recorded water levels in the New York Harbor (NYH) region have occurred since 2010 (Mar. 2010, Aug. 2011, and Oct. 2012), and eight of the largest twenty have occurred since 1990. To investigate whether this cluster of high waters is a random occurrence or indicative of intensified storm tides, we recover archival tide gauge data back to 1844 and evaluate the trajectory of the annual maximum storm tide (AMST). Approximately half of long-term variance is anti-correlated with decadal-scale variations in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), while long-term trends explain the remainder. The 10-year storm-tide has increased by 0.28 m. Combined with a 0.44 m increase in local sea-level since 1856, the 10-year flood-level has increased by approximately 0.72 ± 0.25 m, and magnified the annual probability of overtopping the typical Manhattan seawall from less than 1% to about 20-25%.

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The Impact of a Carbon Tax on Manufacturing: Evidence From Microdata

Ralf Martin, Laure de Preux & Ulrich Wagner
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We estimate the impact of a carbon tax on manufacturing plants using panel data from the UK production census. Our identification strategy builds on the comparison of outcomes between plants subject to the full tax and plants that paid only 20% of the tax. Exploiting exogenous variation in eligibility for the tax discount, we find that the carbon tax had a strong negative impact on energy intensity and electricity use. No statistically significant impacts are found for employment, revenue or plant exit.

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Mechanisms of Reef Coral Resistance to Future Climate Change

Stephen Palumbi et al.
Science, 23 May 2014, Pages 895-898

Abstract:
Reef corals are highly sensitive to heat, yet populations resistant to climate change have recently been identified. To determine the mechanisms of temperature tolerance, we reciprocally transplanted corals between reef sites experiencing distinct temperature regimes, and tested subsequent physiological and gene expression profiles. Local acclimatization and fixed effects, such as adaptation, contributed about equally to heat tolerance and are reflected in patterns of gene expression. In less than two years, acclimatization achieves the same heat tolerance that we would expect from strong natural selection over many generations for these long-lived organisms. Our results show both short-term acclimatory and longer-term adaptive acquisition of climate resistance. Adding these adaptive abilities to ecosystem models is likely to slow predictions of demise for coral reef ecosystems.

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Evolving Comparative Advantage and the Impact of Climate Change in Agricultural Markets: Evidence from 1.7 Million Fields around the World

Arnaud Costinot, Dave Donaldson & Cory Smith
NBER Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
A large agronomic literature models the implications of climate change for a variety of crops and locations around the world. The goal of the present paper is to quantify the macro-level consequences of these micro-level shocks. Using an extremely rich micro-level dataset that contains information about the productivity -- both before and after climate change -- of each of 10 crops for each of 1.7 million fields covering the surface of the Earth, we find that the impact of climate change on these agricultural markets would amount to a 0.26% reduction in global GDP when trade and production patterns are allowed to adjust.

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Implications of Shale Gas Development for Climate Change

Richard Newell & Daniel Raimi
Environmental Science & Technology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Advances in technologies for extracting oil and gas from shale formations have dramatically increased U.S. production of natural gas. As production expands domestically and abroad, natural gas prices will be lower than without shale gas. Lower prices have two main effects: increasing overall energy consumption, and encouraging substitution away from sources such as coal, nuclear, renewables, and electricity. We examine the evidence and analyze modeling projections to understand how these two dynamics affect greenhouse gas emissions. Most evidence indicates that natural gas as a substitute for coal in electricity production, gasoline in transport, and electricity in buildings decreases greenhouse gases, although as an electricity substitute this depends on the electricity mix displaced. Modeling suggests that absent substantial policy changes, increased natural gas production slightly increases overall energy use, more substantially encourages fuel-switching, and that the combined effect slightly alters economy wide GHG emissions; whether the net effect is a slight decrease or increase depends on modeling assumptions including upstream methane emissions. Our main conclusions are that natural gas can help reduce GHG emissions, but in the absence of targeted climate policy measures, it will not substantially change the course of global GHG concentrations. Abundant natural gas can, however, help reduce the costs of achieving GHG reduction goals.

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A comparative analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of wheat and beef in the United States

Kelly Twomey Sanders & Michael Webber
Environmental Research Letters, April 2014

Abstract:
The US food system utilizes large quantities of liquid fuels, electricity, and chemicals yielding significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are not considered in current retail prices, especially when the contribution of biogenic emissions is considered. However, because GHG emissions might be assigned a price in prospective climate policy frameworks, it would be useful to know the extent to which those policies would increase the incremental production costs to food within the US food system. This analysis uses lifecycle assessment (LCA) to (1) estimate the magnitude of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions from typical US food production practices, using wheat and beef as examples, and (2) quantify the cost of those emissions in the context of a GHG-pricing regime over a range of policy constructs. Wheat and beef were chosen as benchmark staples to provide a representative range of less intensive and more intensive agricultural goods, respectively. Results suggest that 1.1 ± 0.13 and 31 ± 8.1 kg of lifecycle CO2e emissions are embedded in 1 kg of wheat and beef production, respectively. Consequently, the cost of lifecycle CO2e emissions for wheat (i.e. cultivation, processing, transportation, storage, and end-use preparation) over an emissions price range of $10 and $85 per tonne CO2e is estimated to be between $0.01 and $0.09 per kg of wheat, respectively, which would increase total wheat production costs by approximately 0.3–2% per kg. By comparison, the estimated lifecycle CO2e price of beef over the same range of CO2e prices is between $0.31 and $2.60 per kg of beef, representing a total production cost increase of approximately 5–40% per kg based on average 2010 food prices. This range indicates that the incremental cost to total US food production might be anywhere between $0.63–5.4 Billion per year for grain and $3.70 and $32 Billion per year for beef based on CO2e emissions assuming that total production volumes stay the same.

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Hurricane strikes and local migration in US coastal counties

B. Ouattara, E. Strobl
Economics Letters, July 2014, Pages 17–20

Abstract:
We examine the effects of hurricane shocks on key migration variables in US coastal counties. Results show that hurricane strikes increase outward migration rate and that these migrants were somewhat wealthier; but that there was no impact on inward migration.

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Multiscale observations of CO2, 13-CO2, and pollutants at Four Corners for emission verification and attribution

Rodica Lindenmaier et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is a pressing need to verify air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions from anthropogenic fossil energy sources to enforce current and future regulations. We demonstrate the feasibility of using simultaneous remote sensing observations of column abundances of CO2, CO, and NO2 to inform and verify emission inventories. We report, to our knowledge, the first ever simultaneous column enhancements in CO2 (3–10 ppm) and NO2 (1–3 Dobson Units), and evidence of δ13-CO2 depletion in an urban region with two large coal-fired power plants with distinct scrubbing technologies that have resulted in ∆NOx/∆CO2 emission ratios that differ by a factor of two. Ground-based total atmospheric column trace gas abundances change synchronously and correlate well with simultaneous in situ point measurements during plume interceptions. Emission ratios of ∆NOx/∆CO2 and ∆SO2/∆CO2 derived from in situ atmospheric observations agree with those reported by in-stack monitors. Forward simulations using in-stack emissions agree with remote column CO2 and NO2 plume observations after fine scale adjustments. Both observed and simulated column ∆NO2/∆CO2 ratios indicate that a large fraction (70–75%) of the region is polluted. We demonstrate that the column emission ratios of ∆NO2/∆CO2 can resolve changes from day-to-day variation in sources with distinct emission factors (clean and dirty power plants, urban, and fires). We apportion these sources by using NO2, SO2, and CO as signatures. Our high-frequency remote sensing observations of CO2 and coemitted pollutants offer promise for the verification of power plant emission factors and abatement technologies from ground and space.

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Abnormal Daily Temperature and Concern about Climate Change Across the United States

Jeremy Brooks et al.
Review of Policy Research, May 2014, Pages 199–217

Abstract:
The relatively low level of concern about climate change among Americans has important implications for climate policy. While many studies have examined individual characteristics associated with climate change attitudes, fewer studies have considered the effects of environmental conditions on such attitudes. Here, we use two national samples of American adults to explore the impact of abnormal daily temperatures on levels of concern about climate change. We test the hypotheses that (1) abnormally warm temperatures, and (2) both abnormally warm and abnormally cool temperatures are associated with higher levels of concern. Using a generalized ordinal logit, we find that the quadratic form of deviation from mean temperature on the date of the survey is significantly associated with higher levels of concern, thus supporting the second hypothesis. We discuss several theoretical frameworks that may explain this result including availability bias, mental models, and implicit stimuli, and the implications for climate policy.

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Public interest in climate change over the past decade and the effects of the 'climategate' media event

William Anderegg & Gregory Goldsmith
Environmental Research Letters, May 2014

Abstract:
Despite overwhelming scientific consensus concerning anthropogenic climate change, many in the non-expert public perceive climate change as debated and contentious. There is concern that two recent high-profile media events — the hacking of the University of East Anglia emails and the Himalayan glacier melt rate presented in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — may have altered public opinion of climate change. While survey data is valuable for tracking public perception and opinion over time, including in response to climate-related media events, emerging methods that facilitate rapid assessment of spatial and temporal patterns in public interest and opinion could be exceptionally valuable for understanding and responding to these events' effects. We use a novel, freely-available dataset of worldwide web search term volumes to assess temporal patterns of interest in climate change over the past ten years, with a particular focus on looking at indicators of climate change skepticism around the high-profile media events. We find that both around the world and in the US, the public searches for the issue as 'global warming,' rather than 'climate change,' and that search volumes have been declining since a 2007 peak. We observe high, but transient spikes of search terms indicating skepticism around the two media events, but find no evidence of effects lasting more than a few months. Our results indicate that while such media events are visible in the short-term, they have little effect on salience of skeptical climate search terms on longer time-scales.

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Greater Sensitivity to Drought Accompanies Maize Yield Increase in the U.S. Midwest

David Lobell et al.
Science, 2 May 2014, Pages 516-519

Abstract:
A key question for climate change adaptation is whether existing cropping systems can become less sensitive to climate variations. We use a field-level data set on maize and soybean yields in the central United States for 1995 through 2012 to examine changes in drought sensitivity. Although yields have increased in absolute value under all levels of stress for both crops, the sensitivity of maize yields to drought stress associated with high vapor pressure deficits has increased. The greater sensitivity has occurred despite cultivar improvements and increased carbon dioxide and reflects the agronomic trend toward higher sowing densities. The results suggest that agronomic changes tend to translate improved drought tolerance of plants to higher average yields but not to decreasing drought sensitivity of yields at the field scale.

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Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition

Samuel Myers et al.
Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
Dietary deficiencies of zinc and iron are a substantial global public health problem. An estimated two billion people suffer these deficiencies, causing a loss of 63 million life-years annually. Most of these people depend on C3 grains and legumes as their primary dietary source of zinc and iron. Here we report that C3 grains and legumes have lower concentrations of zinc and iron when grown under field conditions at the elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration predicted for the middle of this century. C3 crops other than legumes also have lower concentrations of protein, whereas C4 crops seem to be less affected. Differences between cultivars of a single crop suggest that breeding for decreased sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 concentration could partly address these new challenges to global health.

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The Costs and Consequences of Clean Air Act Regulation of CO2 from Power Plants

Dallas Burtraw et al.
American Economic Review, May 2014, Pages 557-562

Abstract:
US climate policy is unfolding under the Clean Air Act. Mobile source and construction permitting regulations are in place. Most important, EPA and the states will determine the form and stringency of the regulations for power plants. Various approaches would create an implicit price on emitting greenhouse gases and create valuable assets that would be distributed differently among electricity producers, consumers, and the government. We compare a tradable performance standard with several cap-and-trade policies. Distributing asset values to fossil-fueled producers and consumers has small effects on average electricity prices but imposes greater social cost than a revenue-raising policy.

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Half of the world's population experience robust changes in the water cycle for a 2 °C warmer world

Jan Sedláček & Reto Knutti
Environmental Research Letters, April 2014

Abstract:
Fresh water is a critical resource on Earth, yet projections of changes in the water cycle resulting from anthropogenic warming are challenging. It is important to not only know the best estimate of change, but also how robust these projections are, where changes occur, which variables will change, and how many people are affected by it. Here we synthesize the changes in the water cycle, based on results of the latest climate model intercomparison (CMIP5). Several variables of the water cycle, such as evaporation and relative humidity, show robust changes over more than 50% of the land area already with an anthropogenic global warming of 1 °C. A warming of 2 °C shows more than half of the world's population to be directly affected by robust local changes in the water cycle, and everybody experiences a robust change in at least one variable of the water cycle. While the physical changes are widespread, the affected people are concentrated in a few hot-spots mainly in Asia and Central Africa. The occurrence of these hot-spots is driven by population density, as well as by the early emergence of the anthropogenic signal from variability in these areas. Large uncertainties remain in projections of soil moisture and runoff changes.

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The poleward migration of the location of tropical cyclone maximum intensity

James Kossin, Kerry Emanuel & Gabriel Vecchi
Nature, 15 May 2014, Pages 349–352

Abstract:
Temporally inconsistent and potentially unreliable global historical data hinder the detection of trends in tropical cyclone activity. This limits our confidence in evaluating proposed linkages between observed trends in tropical cyclones and in the environment. Here we mitigate this difficulty by focusing on a metric that is comparatively insensitive to past data uncertainty, and identify a pronounced poleward migration in the average latitude at which tropical cyclones have achieved their lifetime-maximum intensity over the past 30 years. The poleward trends are evident in the global historical data in both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres, with rates of 53 and 62 kilometres per decade, respectively, and are statistically significant. When considered together, the trends in each hemisphere depict a global-average migration of tropical cyclone activity away from the tropics at a rate of about one degree of latitude per decade, which lies within the range of estimates of the observed expansion of the tropics over the same period. The global migration remains evident and statistically significant under a formal data homogenization procedure, and is unlikely to be a data artefact. The migration away from the tropics is apparently linked to marked changes in the mean meridional structure of environmental vertical wind shear and potential intensity, and can plausibly be linked to tropical expansion, which is thought to have anthropogenic contributions.

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Global distribution and risk to shipping of very extreme sea states (VESS)

V.J. Cardone et al.
International Journal of Climatology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The impact of extreme sea states on offshore infrastructure is of intense interest in the ocean engineering community at the present time. In this study, a new quality-controlled database of global satellite-derived estimates of significant wave height (HS) and surface marine wind speed from seven missions spanning the period August 1991–March 2010, known as GlobWave, is scanned to yield over 5000 ocean basin specific orbit segments with peak HS > 12 m. This population was subsequently distilled to a population of 120 individual storms [so-called very extreme sea states (VESS) storms], in which there was at least one altimeter estimate of HS > 16 m. The highest HSs were observed in the Northern Hemisphere with ten orbit segments in the North Atlantic Ocean (NAO) with a peak HS of >18 m followed by four segments in the North Pacific Ocean (NPO). Only three HS peaks >18 m were seen in the entire Southern Oceans. Three of the >5000 orbit segments had a peak HS >20 m with the highest at 20.6 m. The number of VESS storms detected is greatest in the NAO (the smallest basin), a result that appears to be consistent with general circulation studies of extratropical cyclogenesis frequency and intensity in general atmospheric circulation models. A new continuous 33-year global wave hindcast (GROW2012) based on a new atmospheric reanalysis wind field product appears to provide unbiased estimates of the probability of exceedance of VESS in extratropical storms and small-basin dependent biases (0.5–1.5 m) of peak HS greater than ∼16 m. GROW2012 was, therefore, applied with a voyage simulator for nine trade routes to assess the risk of a merchant vessel that does not avail itself of weather routing of encountering VESS. The highest monthly exceedance probabilities (MEPs) at the VESS threshold of 14 m are found in the NAO and NPO at ∼0.1% during winter months. The alternative statistical distribution of the MEP of the single maximum peak sea state to be expected for a voyage for any month (MEPm) shows that the highest MEPm is for the month of December in the NAO along the great circle route between the middle US East Coast and entrance to English Channel and in the NPO along the Yokohama–Seattle route, at about 3%. Still, the overall probability of a vessel encountering sea states that may contain waves capable of catastrophic damage over a 33-year lifetime is quite small with mean number of hours of exposure to a vessel typically less than ∼3 h for six of the nine routes and a maximum of 10 h for two of the routes.

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Climate change and forest fires synergistically drive widespread melt events of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Kaitlin Keegan et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
In July 2012, over 97% of the Greenland Ice Sheet experienced surface melt, the first widespread melt during the era of satellite remote sensing. Analysis of six Greenland shallow firn cores from the dry snow region confirms that the most recent prior widespread melt occurred in 1889. A firn core from the center of the ice sheet demonstrated that exceptionally warm temperatures combined with black carbon sediments from Northern Hemisphere forest fires reduced albedo below a critical threshold in the dry snow region, and caused the melting events in both 1889 and 2012. We use these data to project the frequency of widespread melt into the year 2100. Since Arctic temperatures and the frequency of forest fires are both expected to rise with climate change, our results suggest that widespread melt events on the Greenland Ice Sheet may begin to occur almost annually by the end of century. These events are likely to alter the surface mass balance of the ice sheet, leaving the surface susceptible to further melting.

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Elevated CO2 further lengthens growing season under warming conditions

Melissa Reyes-Fox et al.
Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
Observations of a longer growing season through earlier plant growth in temperate to polar regions have been thought to be a response to climate warming. However, data from experimental warming studies indicate that many species that initiate leaf growth and flowering earlier also reach seed maturation and senesce earlier, shortening their active and reproductive periods. A conceptual model to explain this apparent contradiction, and an analysis of the effect of elevated CO2 — which can delay annual life cycle events — on changing season length, have not been tested. Here we show that experimental warming in a temperate grassland led to a longer growing season through earlier leaf emergence by the first species to leaf, often a grass, and constant or delayed senescence by other species that were the last to senesce, supporting the conceptual model. Elevated CO2 further extended growing, but not reproductive, season length in the warmed grassland by conserving water, which enabled most species to remain active longer. Our results suggest that a longer growing season, especially in years or biomes where water is a limiting factor, is not due to warming alone, but also to higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations that extend the active period of plant annual life cycles.

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Explicit feedback and the management of uncertainty in meeting climate objectives with solar geoengineering

Ben Kravitz et al.
Environmental Research Letters, April 2014

Abstract:
Solar geoengineering has been proposed as a method of meeting climate objectives, such as reduced globally averaged surface temperatures. However, because of incomplete understanding of the effects of geoengineering on the climate system, its implementation would be in the presence of substantial uncertainties. In our study, we use two fully coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation models: one in which the geoengineering strategy is designed, and one in which geoengineering is implemented (a real-world proxy). We show that regularly adjusting the amount of solar geoengineering in response to departures of the observed global mean climate state from the predetermined objective (sequential decision making; an explicit feedback approach) can manage uncertainties and result in achievement of the climate objective in both the design model and the real-world proxy. This approach results in substantially less error in meeting global climate objectives than using a predetermined time series of how much geoengineering to use, especially if the estimated sensitivity to geoengineering is inaccurate.

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Extinction and recolonization of coastal megafauna following human arrival in New Zealand

Catherine Collins et al.
Procedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 7 July 2014

Abstract:
Extinctions can dramatically reshape biological communities. As a case in point, ancient mass extinction events apparently facilitated dramatic new evolutionary radiations of surviving lineages. However, scientists have yet to fully understand the consequences of more recent biological upheaval, such as the megafaunal extinctions that occurred globally over the past 50 kyr. New Zealand was the world's last large landmass to be colonized by humans, and its exceptional archaeological record documents a vast number of vertebrate extinctions in the immediate aftermath of Polynesian arrival approximately AD 1280. This recently colonized archipelago thus presents an outstanding opportunity to test for rapid biological responses to extinction. Here, we use ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis to show that extinction of an endemic sea lion lineage (Phocarctos spp.) apparently facilitated a subsequent northward range expansion of a previously subantarctic-limited lineage. This finding parallels a similar extinction–replacement event in penguins (Megadyptes spp.). In both cases, an endemic mainland clade was completely eliminated soon after human arrival, and then replaced by a genetically divergent clade from the remote subantarctic region, all within the space of a few centuries. These data suggest that ecological and demographic processes can play a role in constraining lineage distributions, even for highly dispersive species, and highlight the potential for dynamic biological responses to extinction.

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Evolution of land surface air temperature trend

Fei Ji et al.
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
The global climate has been experiencing significant warming at an unprecedented pace in the past century. This warming is spatially and temporally non-uniform, and one needs to understand its evolution to better evaluate its potential societal and economic impact. Here, the evolution of global land surface air temperature trend in the past century is diagnosed using the spatial–temporally multidimensional ensemble empirical mode decomposition method. We find that the noticeable warming (>0.5 K) started sporadically over the global land and accelerated until around 1980. Both the warming rate and spatial structure have changed little since. The fastest warming in recent decades (>0.4 K per decade) occurred in northern mid-latitudes. From a zonal average perspective, noticeable warming (>0.2 K since 1900) first took place in the subtropical and subpolar regions of the Northern Hemisphere, followed by subtropical warming in the Southern Hemisphere. The two bands of warming in the Northern Hemisphere expanded from 1950 to 1985 and merged to cover the entire Northern Hemisphere.

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Public Support for Policies to Reduce Risk After Hurricane Sandy

Michael Greenberg et al.
Risk Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
A phone survey was conducted in New Jersey in 2013 four months after the second of two major devastating tropical storms (Sandy in 2012 and Irene in 2011). The objective was to estimate public support for restricting land uses in flood zones, requiring housing to be built to resist storm waters, and otherwise increasing mitigation and resilience. Respondents who supported these mitigation and resilience policies disproportionately were concerned about global climate change, trusted climate scientists and the federal government, and were willing to contribute to a redevelopment program through taxes, bonds, and fees. They also tended to have collectivist and egalitarian worldviews. Half of the respondents supported at least four of the seven risk-reducing policies. How their support translates into public policy remains to be seen. Lack of willingness to personally fund these policies is an obstacle.

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North Sea Storminess from a Novel Storm Surge Record since AD 1843

Sönke Dangendorf et al.
Journal of Climate, May 2014, Pages 3582–3595

Abstract:
The detection of potential long-term changes in historical storm statistics and storm surges plays a vitally important role for protecting coastal communities. In the absence of long homogeneous wind records, the authors present a novel, independent, and homogeneous storm surge record based on water level observations in the North Sea since 1843. Storm surges are characterized by considerable interannual-to-decadal variability linked to large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns. Time periods of increased storm surge levels prevailed in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries without any evidence for significant long-term trends. This contradicts with recent findings based on reanalysis data, which suggest increasing storminess in the region since the late nineteenth century. The authors compare the wind and pressure fields from the Twentieth-Century Reanalysis (20CRv2) with the storm surge record by applying state-of-the-art empirical wind surge formulas. The comparison reveals that the reanalysis is a valuable tool that leads to good results over the past 100 yr; previously the statistical relationship fails, leaving significantly lower values in the upper percentiles of the predicted surge time series. These low values lead to significant upward trends over the entire investigation period, which are in turn supported by neither the storm surge record nor an independent circulation index based on homogeneous pressure readings. The authors therefore suggest that these differences are related to higher uncertainties in the earlier years of the 20CRv2 over the North Sea region.

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Climate change and frog calls: Long-term correlations along a tropical altitudinal gradient

Peter Narins & Sebastiaan Meenderink
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 May 2014

Abstract:
Temperature affects nearly all biological processes, including acoustic signal production and reception. Here, we report on advertisement calls of the Puerto Rican coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) that were recorded along an altitudinal gradient and compared these with similar recordings along the same altitudinal gradient obtained 23 years earlier. We found that over this period, at any given elevation, calls exhibited both significant increases in pitch and shortening of their duration. All of the observed differences are consistent with a shift to higher elevations for the population, a well-known strategy for adapting to a rise in ambient temperature. Using independent temperature data over the same time period, we confirm a significant increase in temperature, the magnitude of which closely predicts the observed changes in the frogs’ calls. Physiological responses to long-term temperature rises include reduction in individual body size and concomitantly, population biomass. These can have potentially dire consequences, as coqui frogs form an integral component of the food web in the Puerto Rican rainforest.

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Elements of emission market design: An experimental analysis of California's market for greenhouse gas allowances

William Shobe, Charles Holt & Thaddeus Huetteman
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use a set of economic experiments to test the effects of some novel features of California's new controls on greenhouse gas emissions. The California cap and trade scheme imposes limits on allowance ownership, uses a tiered price containment reserve sale, and settles allowance auctions based on the lowest accepted bid. We examine the effects of these features on market liquidity, efficiency, and price variability. We find that tight holding limits substantially reduce banking, which, in turn reduces market liquidity. This impairs the ability of traders to smooth prices over time, resulting in lower efficiency and higher price variability. The price containment reserve, while increasing the supply of allowances available to traders, does not appear to mitigate the effects of tight holding limits on market outcomes. As a result, the imposition of holding limits in the allowance market may have the consequence of increasing the likelihood of the market manipulation that they were intended to prevent. Finally, we find that the choice between lowest accepted bid and highest rejected bid for the allowance auction pricing rule does not have a significant effect on market outcomes.

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The Role of Energy Conservation and Natural Gas Prices in the Costs of Achieving California’s Renewable Energy Goals

Timothy Considine & Edward Manderson
Energy Economics, July 2014, Pages 291–301

Abstract:
This paper develops an econometric forecasting system of energy demand coupled with engineering-economic models of energy supply. The framework is used to quantify the energy and environmental impacts of renewable and natural gas based electricity power generation in California, considering the role of on-going energy conservation efforts and incorporating different natural gas price scenarios over the forecast horizon (2011–2035). The results indicate that, relative to a business-as-usual scenario of continuing to rely on imported electricity to meet future demand, California’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 33% renewables by 2020 will increase electricity rates by over 10%. However, the RPS will also provide substantial annual savings in carbon dioxide emissions of 40 million metric tons in 2020. Continuing non-price induced energy conservation at the historic rate will only result in a marginal reduction in electricity rates, although lower electricity use means substantial savings are nonetheless achieved in electricity expenditures. In addition, continuing trend energy conservation leads to substantial savings in carbon dioxide emissions. Like the RPS, developing domestic natural gas generation also leads to rate increases and reductions in carbon dioxide emissions (relative to the baseline). However, these impacts are minor compared to the RPS scenario.

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The rate of sea-level rise

Anny Cazenave et al.
Nature Climate Change, May 2014, Pages 358–361

Abstract:
Present-day sea-level rise is a major indicator of climate change. Since the early 1990s, sea level rose at a mean rate of ~3.1 mm yr−1. However, over the last decade a slowdown of this rate, of about 30%, has been recorded. It coincides with a plateau in Earth’s mean surface temperature evolution, known as the recent pause in warming. Here we present an analysis based on sea-level data from the altimetry record of the past ~20 years that separates interannual natural variability in sea level from the longer-term change probably related to anthropogenic global warming. The most prominent signature in the global mean sea level interannual variability is caused by El Niño–Southern Oscillation, through its impact on the global water cycle. We find that when correcting for interannual variability, the past decade’s slowdown of the global mean sea level disappears, leading to a similar rate of sea-level rise (of 3.3 ± 0.4 mm yr−1) during the first and second decade of the altimetry era. Our results confirm the need for quantifying and further removing from the climate records the short-term natural climate variability if one wants to extract the global warming signal.

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The “I” in climate: The role of individual responsibility in systematic processing of climate change information

Laura Rickard et al.
Global Environmental Change, May 2014, Pages 39–52

Abstract:
Past research suggests that how we perceive risk can be related to how we attribute responsibility for risk-related issues, such as climate change; however, a gap in research lies in exploring possible connections between attribution of responsibility, risk perception, and information processing. Using the Risk Information Seeking and Processing model, this study fills this gap by examining how RISP-based variables are related to information processing and whether attribution of responsibility for mitigating climate change influences communication behaviors that are often predicted by elevated risk perceptions. Undergraduates at two large research universities (N = 572) were randomly assigned to read one of two newspaper articles that emphasized either individual responsibility (by highlighting personal actions) or societal responsibility (by highlighting government policy) for climate change mitigation. Results indicate that subjects in the individual responsibility condition were significantly more likely to process the message in a systematic manner; however, attribution of responsibility did not interact with risk perception to influence systematic processing. Moreover, attitudes toward climate change information and negative affect mediated the relationship between other key variables and systematic processing. These and other findings suggest that strategic communication about climate change may benefit from emphasizing individual responsibility to attract more attention from diverse audiences and to promote deeper thinking about the issue. Additional theoretical implications are presented.

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Widespread decline of Congo rainforest greenness in the past decade

Liming Zhou et al.
Nature, 1 May 2014, Pages 86–90

Abstract:
Tropical forests are global epicentres of biodiversity and important modulators of climate change1, and are mainly constrained by rainfall patterns. The severe short-term droughts that occurred recently in Amazonia have drawn attention to the vulnerability of tropical forests to climatic disturbances. The central African rainforests, the second-largest on Earth, have experienced a long-term drying trend whose impacts on vegetation dynamics remain mostly unknown because in situ observations are very limited. The Congolese forest, with its drier conditions and higher percentage of semi-evergreen trees, may be more tolerant to short-term rainfall reduction than are wetter tropical forests, but for a long-term drought there may be critical thresholds of water availability below which higher-biomass, closed-canopy forests transition to more open, lower-biomass forests. Here we present observational evidence for a widespread decline in forest greenness over the past decade based on analyses of satellite data (optical, thermal, microwave and gravity) from several independent sensors over the Congo basin. This decline in vegetation greenness, particularly in the northern Congolese forest, is generally consistent with decreases in rainfall, terrestrial water storage, water content in aboveground woody and leaf biomass, and the canopy backscatter anomaly caused by changes in structure and moisture in upper forest layers. It is also consistent with increases in photosynthetically active radiation and land surface temperature. These multiple lines of evidence indicate that this large-scale vegetation browning, or loss of photosynthetic capacity, may be partially attributable to the long-term drying trend. Our results suggest that a continued gradual decline of photosynthetic capacity and moisture content driven by the persistent drying trend could alter the composition and structure of the Congolese forest to favour the spread of drought-tolerant species.

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Ice plug prevents irreversible discharge from East Antarctica

M. Mengel & A. Levermann
Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Changes in ice discharge from Antarctica constitute the largest uncertainty in future sea-level projections, mainly because of the unknown response of its marine basins. Most of West Antarctica’s marine ice sheet lies on an inland-sloping bed and is thereby prone to a marine ice sheet instability. A similar topographic configuration is found in large parts of East Antarctica, which holds marine ice equivalent to 19 m of global sea-level rise, that is, more than five times that of West Antarctica. Within East Antarctica, the Wilkes Basin holds the largest volume of marine ice that is fully connected by subglacial troughs. This ice body was significantly reduced during the Pliocene epoch. Strong melting underneath adjacent ice shelves with similar bathymetry indicates the ice sheet’s sensitivity to climatic perturbations. The stability of the Wilkes marine ice sheet has not been the subject of any comprehensive assessment of future sea level. Using recently improved topographic data in combination with ice-dynamic simulations, we show here that the removal of a specific coastal ice volume equivalent to less than 80 mm of global sea-level rise at the margin of the Wilkes Basin destabilizes the regional ice flow and leads to a self-sustained discharge of the entire basin and a global sea-level rise of 3–4 m. Our results are robust with respect to variation in ice parameters, forcing details and model resolution as well as increased surface mass balance, indicating that East Antarctica may become a large contributor to future sea-level rise on timescales beyond a century.

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Evaluation of extreme climate events using a regional climate model for China

Zhenming Ji & Shichang Kang
International Journal of Climatology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Extreme climate events over China at the end of the 21st century (2080–2099) are investigated using the regional climate model RegCM4. Model performance is validated through comparison between observations and simulations over the period 1985–2005. The results show that RegCM4 can satisfactorily reproduce the spatial distribution of extreme climate events over China. The model simulates temperature extremes more accurately than precipitation. Under the RCP8.5 (high emission) scenario, the number of frost days decreases, and both the heat wave duration index and the growing season length increase dramatically towards the end of the 21st century. Changes in extreme temperature become increasingly pronounced from South to North China, with the most significant changes occurring on the Tibetan Plateau (TP). The proportion of heavy precipitation generally increases, except on the southern TP. The number of very heavy precipitation days increases by 25–50% in Northwest and East China. In winter, the number of consecutive dry days (CDD) decreases in North China and increases in South China. The greatest increases in CDD are found in June, July and August (JJA) in Southwest China. In a future that follows this scenario, drought events may be aggravated in Southwest China, and decrease in North China. In contrast, when repeating these projections under the assumption of the RCP4.5 scenario for emissions, the frequency of extreme climate events is reduced. These results suggest that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions may mitigate the effects of climate change over the coming decades.

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Model Simulation and Projection of European Heat Waves in Present-Day and Future Climates

Ngar-Cheung Lau & Mary Jo Nath
Journal of Climate, May 2014, Pages 3713–3730

Abstract:
The synoptic behavior of present-day heat waves (HW) over Europe is studied using the GFDL high-resolution atmospheric model (HiRAM) with 50-km grid spacing. Three regions of enhanced and coherent temperature variability are identified over western Russia, eastern Europe, and western Europe. The simulated HW characteristics are compared with those derived from Climate Forecast System Reanalysis products. Composite charts for outstanding HW episodes resemble well-known recurrent circulation types. The HW region is overlain by a prominent upper-level anticyclone, which blocks the passage of synoptic-scale transients. The altered eddy vorticity transports in turn reinforce the anticyclone. The anticyclone is part of a planetary-scale wave train. The successive downstream development of this wave train is indicative of Rossby wave dispersion. Additional runs of HiRAM are conducted for the “time slices” of 2026–35 and 2086–95 in the climate scenario corresponding to representative concentration pathway 4.5 (RCP4.5). By the end of the twenty-first century, the average duration and frequency of HW in the three European sites are projected to increase by a factor of 1.4–2.0 and 2.2–4.5, respectively, from the present-day values. These changes can be reproduced by adding the mean shift between the present and future climatological temperatures to the daily fluctuations in the present-day simulation. The output from a continuous integration of a coupled general circulation model through the 1901–2100 period indicates a monotonic increase in severity, duration, and HW days during the twenty-first century.

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Contribution of semi-arid ecosystems to interannual variability of the global carbon cycle

Benjamin Poulter et al.
Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
The land and ocean act as a sink for fossil-fuel emissions, thereby slowing the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations1. Although the uptake of carbon by oceanic and terrestrial processes has kept pace with accelerating carbon dioxide emissions until now, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations exhibit a large variability on interannual timescales2, considered to be driven primarily by terrestrial ecosystem processes dominated by tropical rainforests3. We use a terrestrial biogeochemical model, atmospheric carbon dioxide inversion and global carbon budget accounting methods to investigate the evolution of the terrestrial carbon sink over the past 30 years, with a focus on the underlying mechanisms responsible for the exceptionally large land carbon sink reported in 2011 (ref. 2). Here we show that our three terrestrial carbon sink estimates are in good agreement and support the finding of a 2011 record land carbon sink. Surprisingly, we find that the global carbon sink anomaly was driven by growth of semi-arid vegetation in the Southern Hemisphere, with almost 60 per cent of carbon uptake attributed to Australian ecosystems, where prevalent La Niña conditions caused up to six consecutive seasons of increased precipitation. In addition, since 1981, a six per cent expansion of vegetation cover over Australia was associated with a fourfold increase in the sensitivity of continental net carbon uptake to precipitation. Our findings suggest that the higher turnover rates of carbon pools in semi-arid biomes are an increasingly important driver of global carbon cycle inter-annual variability and that tropical rainforests may become less relevant drivers in the future. More research is needed to identify to what extent the carbon stocks accumulated during wet years are vulnerable to rapid decomposition or loss through fire in subsequent years.

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The risk implications of insurance securitization: The case of catastrophe bonds

Bjoern Hagendorff et al.
Journal of Corporate Finance, April 2014, Pages 387–402

Abstract:
Catastrophe (Cat) bonds are insurance securitization vehicles which are supposed to transfer catastrophe-related underwriting risk from issuers to capital markets. This paper addresses key, unanswered questions concerning Cat bonds and offers the following results. First, our findings show firms that issue Cat bonds exhibit less risky underwriting portfolios with less exposure to catastrophe risks and overall less need to hedge catastrophe risk. These results show that the access to the market for insurance securitization is easiest for firms with less risky portfolios. Second, firms that issue Cat bonds are found to experience a reduction in their default risk relative to non-issuing firms and our results, therefore, demonstrate that Cat bonds provide effective catastrophe hedging for issuing firms. Third, firms with less catastrophe exposure, increase their catastrophe exposure following an issue. Therefore, our paper cautions that the ability to hedge catastrophe risk causes some firms to seek additional catastrophe risk.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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