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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Doing well

Inequality in mortality decreased among the young while increasing for older adults, 1990–2010

Janet Currie & Hannes Schwandt

Science, 6 May 2016, Pages 708-712

Abstract:
Many recent studies point to increasing inequality in mortality in the U.S. over the past twenty years. These studies often use mortality rates in middle and old age. Here we study inequality in mortality for all age groups in 1990, 2000, and 2010. Our analysis is based on groups of counties ranked by their poverty levels. Consistent with previous studies, we find increasing inequality in mortality at older ages. For children and young adults below age 20, however, we find strong mortality improvements that are most pronounced in poorer counties, implying a strong decrease in mortality inequality. These younger cohorts will form the future adult U.S. population, so this research suggests that inequality in old age mortality is likely to decline in future.

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Variation In Health Outcomes: The Role Of Spending On Social Services, Public Health, And Health Care, 2000–09

Elizabeth Bradley et al.

Health Affairs, May 2016, Pages 760-768

Abstract:
Although spending rates on health care and social services vary substantially across the states, little is known about the possible association between variation in state-level health outcomes and the allocation of state spending between health care and social services. To estimate that association, we used state-level repeated measures multivariable modeling for the period 2000–09, with region and time fixed effects adjusted for total spending and state demographic and economic characteristics and with one- and two-year lags. We found that states with a higher ratio of social to health spending (calculated as the sum of social service spending and public health spending divided by the sum of Medicare spending and Medicaid spending) had significantly better subsequent health outcomes for the following seven measures: adult obesity; asthma; mentally unhealthy days; days with activity limitations; and mortality rates for lung cancer, acute myocardial infarction, and type 2 diabetes. Our study suggests that broadening the debate beyond what should be spent on health care to include what should be invested in health — not only in health care but also in social services and public health — is warranted.

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Estimating Potential Reductions in Premature Mortality in New York City From Raising the Minimum Wage to $15

Tsu-Yu Tsao et al.

American Journal of Public Health, June 2016, Pages 1036-1041

Objectives: To assess potential reductions in premature mortality that could have been achieved in 2008 to 2012 if the minimum wage had been $15 per hour in New York City.

Methods: Using the 2008 to 2012 American Community Survey, we performed simulations to assess how the proportion of low-income residents in each neighborhood might change with a hypothetical $15 minimum wage under alternative assumptions of labor market dynamics. We developed an ecological model of premature death to determine the differences between the levels of premature mortality as predicted by the actual proportions of low-income residents in 2008 to 2012 and the levels predicted by the proportions of low-income residents under a hypothetical $15 minimum wage.

Results: A $15 minimum wage could have averted 2800 to 5500 premature deaths between 2008 and 2012 in New York City, representing 4% to 8% of total premature deaths in that period. Most of these avertable deaths would be realized in lower-income communities, in which residents are predominantly people of color.

Conclusions: A higher minimum wage may have substantial positive effects on health and should be considered as an instrument to address health disparities.

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Empirical redefinition of comprehensive health and well-being in the older adults of the United States

Martha McClintock et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 31 May 2016, Pages E3071–E3080

Abstract:
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Despite general acceptance of this comprehensive definition, there has been little rigorous scientific attempt to use it to measure and assess population health. Instead, the dominant model of health is a disease-centered Medical Model (MM), which actively ignores many relevant domains. In contrast to the MM, we approach this issue through a Comprehensive Model (CM) of health consistent with the WHO definition, giving statistically equal consideration to multiple health domains, including medical, physical, psychological, functional, and sensory measures. We apply a data-driven latent class analysis (LCA) to model 54 specific health variables from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), a nationally representative sample of US community-dwelling older adults. We first apply the LCA to the MM, identifying five health classes differentiated primarily by having diabetes and hypertension. The CM identifies a broader range of six health classes, including two “emergent” classes completely obscured by the MM. We find that specific medical diagnoses (cancer and hypertension) and health behaviors (smoking) are far less important than mental health (loneliness), sensory function (hearing), mobility, and bone fractures in defining vulnerable health classes. Although the MM places two-thirds of the US population into “robust health” classes, the CM reveals that one-half belong to less healthy classes, independently associated with higher mortality. This reconceptualization has important implications for medical care delivery, preventive health practices, and resource allocation.

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Total Economic Consequences of an Influenza Outbreak in the United States

Fynnwin Prager, Dan Wei & Adam Rose

Risk Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
Pandemic influenza represents a serious threat not only to the population of the United States, but also to its economy. In this study, we analyze the total economic consequences of potential influenza outbreaks in the United States for four cases based on the distinctions between disease severity and the presence/absence of vaccinations. The analysis is based on data and parameters on influenza obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and the general literature. A state-of-the-art economic impact modeling approach, computable general equilibrium, is applied to analyze a wide range of potential impacts stemming from the outbreaks. This study examines the economic impacts from changes in medical expenditures and workforce participation, and also takes into consideration different types of avoidance behavior and resilience actions not previously fully studied. Our results indicate that, in the absence of avoidance and resilience effects, a pandemic influenza outbreak could result in a loss in U.S. GDP of $25.4 billion, but that vaccination could reduce the losses to $19.9 billion. When behavioral and resilience factors are taken into account, a pandemic influenza outbreak could result in GDP losses of $45.3 billion without vaccination and $34.4 billion with vaccination. These results indicate the importance of including a broader set of causal factors to achieve more accurate estimates of the total economic impacts of not just pandemic influenza but biothreats in general. The results also highlight a number of actionable items that government policymakers and public health officials can use to help reduce potential economic losses from the outbreaks.

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Understanding the Improvement in Disability Free Life Expectancy In the U.S. Elderly Population

Michael Chernew et al.

NBER Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
Understanding how healthy lifespans are changing is essential for public policy. This paper explores changes in healthy lifespan in the U.S. over time and considers reasons for the changes. We reach three fundamental conclusions. First, we show that healthy life increased measurably in the US between 1992 and 2008. Years of healthy life expectancy at age 65 increased by 1.8 years over that time period, while disabled life expectancy fell by 0.5 years. Second, we identify the medical conditions that contribute the most to changes in healthy life expectancy. The largest improvements in healthy life expectancy come from reduced incidence and improved functioning for those with cardiovascular disease and vision problems. Together, these conditions account for 63 percent of the improvement in disability-free life expectancy. Third and more speculatively, we explore the role of medical treatments in the improvements for these two conditions. We estimate that improved medical care is likely responsible for a significant part of the cardiovascular and vision-related extension of healthy life.

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Save Time, Save Lives: The Impact of 9-1-1 on Lethality and Homicides

Thomas Stratmann & David Chandler Thomas

George Mason University Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
Several theories have been offered to explain the recent declines in the lethality and homicide rates in the United States. We hypothesize that technological innovations, which improved information transmission and shortened the response time between an aggravated assault incident and treatment, reduced the cost of saving lives and caused much of the decline in lethality and homicide rates in recent decades. Using difference-in-differences and regression-discontinuity designs, we show that improvements in emergency services (9-1-1) caused significant decreases in lethality and homicide rates. Various placebo and falsification tests support these findings.

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Mediators of the Relation Between Community Violence and Sexual Risk Behavior Among Adults Attending a Public Sexually Transmitted Infection Clinic

Theresa Senn, Jennifer Walsh & Michael Carey

Archives of Sexual Behavior, July 2016, Pages 1069-1082

Abstract:
Prior research shows that violence is associated with sexual risk behavior, but little is known about the relation between community violence (i.e., violence that is witnessed or experienced in one’s neighborhood) and sexual risk behavior. To better understand contextual influences on HIV risk behavior, we asked 508 adult patients attending a publicly funded STI clinic in the U.S. (54 % male, M age = 27.93, 68 % African American) who were participating in a larger trial to complete a survey assessing exposure to community violence, sexual risk behavior, and potential mediators of the community violence–sexual risk behavior relation (i.e., mental health, substance use, and experiencing intimate partner violence). A separate sample of participants from the same trial completed measures of sexual behavior norms, which were aggregated to create measures of census tract sexual behavior norms. Data analyses controlling for socioeconomic status revealed that higher levels of community violence were associated with more sexual partners for men and with more episodes of unprotected sex with non-steady partners for women. For both men and women, substance use and mental health mediated the community violence–sexual risk behavior relation; in addition, for men only, experiencing intimate partner violence also mediated this relation. These results confirm that, for individuals living in communities with high levels of violence, sexual risk reduction interventions need to address intimate partner violence, substance use, and mental health to be optimally effective.

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Geographic Variation in Trends and Disparities in Acute Myocardial Infarction Hospitalization and Mortality by Income Levels, 1999-2013

Erica Spatz et al.

JAMA Cardiology, forthcoming

Design, Setting, and Participants: In this observational study, county-level risk-standardized (age, sex, and race) hospitalization and 1-year mortality rates for AMI from January 1, 1999, to December 31, 2013, were measured for Medicare beneficiaries 65 years or older. Data analysis was performed from June 2 through December 1, 2015. Counties were stratified by median income percentile using 1999 US Census Bureau data adjusted for inflation: low- (<25th), average- (25th-75th), or high- (>75th) income groups.

Results: In the 15-year study period, AMI risk-standardized hospitalization and mortality rates decreased significantly for all 3 county income groups. Mean hospitalization rates were significantly higher among low-income counties compared with high-income counties in 1999 (1353 vs 1123 per 100 000 person-years, respectively) and in 2013 (853 vs 648 per 100 000 person-years, respectively). One-year mortality rates after hospitalization for AMI were similar across county income groups, decreasing from 1999 (31.5%, 31.4%, and 31.1%, for high-, average-, and low-income counties, respectively) to 2013 (26.2%, 26.1%, and 25.4%, respectively). Income was associated with county-level, risk-standardized AMI hospitalization rates but not mortality rates. Increasing 1 interquartile range of median county consumer price index–adjusted income ($12 000) was associated with a decline in 46 and 37 hospitalizations per 100 000 person-years for 1999 and 2013, respectively; interaction between income and time was 0.56. The rate of decline in AMI hospitalizations was similar for all county income groups; however, low-income counties lagged behind high-income counties by 4.3 (95% CI, 3.1-5.9) years. There were no significant differences in trends across geographic regions.

Conclusions and Relevance: Hospitalization and mortality rates of AMI declined among counties of all income levels, although hospitalization rates among low-income counties lag behind those of the higher income groups. These findings lend support for a more targeted, community-based approach to AMI prevention.

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Effect of Calorie Restriction on Mood, Quality of Life, Sleep, and Sexual Function in Healthy Nonobese Adults: The CALERIE 2 Randomized Clinical Trial

Corby Martin et al.

JAMA Internal Medicine, June 2016, Pages 743-752

Importance: Calorie restriction (CR) increases longevity in many species and reduces risk factors for chronic diseases. In humans, CR may improve health span, yet concerns remain about potential negative effects of CR.

Objective: To test the effect of CR on mood, quality of life (QOL), sleep, and sexual function in healthy nonobese adults.

Design, Setting, and Participants: A multisite randomized clinical trial (Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy Phase 2 [CALERIE 2]) was conducted at 3 academic research institutions. Adult men and women (N = 220) with body mass index (BMI; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) of 22.0 to 28.0 were randomized to 2 years of 25% CR or an ad libitum (AL) control group in a 2:1 ratio favoring CR. Data were collected at baseline, 12 months, and 24 months and examined using intent-to-treat analysis. The study was conducted from January 22, 2007, to March 6, 2012. Data analysis was performed from July 18, 2012, to October 27, 2015.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Self-report questionnaires were administered to measure mood (Beck Depression Inventory-II [BDI-II], score range 0-63, higher scores indicating worse mood, and Profile of Mood States [POMS], with a total mood disturbance score range of −32 to 200 and higher scores indicating higher levels of the constructs measured), QOL (Rand 36-Item Short Form, score range 0-100, higher scores reflecting better QOL, and Perceived Stress Scale, score range 0-40, higher scores indicating higher levels of stress), sleep (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index [PSQI], total score range 0-21, higher scores reflecting worse sleep quality), and sexual function (Derogatis Interview for Sexual Function–Self–report, total score range 24-188, higher scores indicating better sexual functioning).

Results: In all, 218 participants (152 women [69.7%]; mean [SD] age, 37.9 (7.2) years; mean [SD] BMI, 25.1 [1.6]) were included in the analyses. The CR and AL groups lost a mean (SE) of 7.6 (0.3) kg and 0.4 (0.5) kg, respectively, at month 24 (P < .001). Compared with the AL group, the CR group had significantly improved mood (BDI-II: between-group difference [BGD], −0.76; 95% CI, −1.41 to −0.11; effect size [ES], −0.35), reduced tension (POMS: BGD, −0.79; 95% CI, −1.38 to −0.19; ES, −0.39), and improved general health (BGD, 6.45; 95% CI, 3.93 to 8.98; ES, 0.75) and sexual drive and relationship (BGD, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.11 to 2.01; ES, 0.35) at month 24 as well as improved sleep duration at month 12 (BGD, −0.26; 95% CI, −0.49 to −0.02; ES, −0.32) (all P < .05). Greater percent weight loss in the CR group at month 24 was associated with increased vigor (Spearman correlation coefficient, ρ = −0.30) and less mood disturbance (ρ = 0.27) measured with the POMS, improved general health (ρ = −0.27) measured with the SF-36, and better sleep quality per the PSQI total score (ρ = 0.28) (all P < .01).

Conclusions and Relevance: In nonobese adults, CR had some positive effects and no negative effects on health-related QOL.

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Abnormalities in Diffusional Kurtosis Metrics Related to Head Impact Exposure in a Season of High School Varsity Football

Elizabeth Davenport et al.

Journal of Neurotrauma, forthcoming

Abstract:
The purpose of this study is to determine if the effects of cumulative head impacts during a season of high school football produce changes in diffusional kurtosis imaging (DKI) metrics in the absence of clinically diagnosed concussion. Subjects were recruited from a high school football team and were outfitted with the Head Impact Telemetry System (HITs) during all practices and games. Biomechanical head impact exposure metrics were calculated including: total impacts, summed acceleration, and Risk Weighted cumulative Exposure (RWE). Twenty-four players completed pre- and post-season MRI, including DKI; players who experienced clinical concussion were excluded. Fourteen subjects completed pre- and post-season Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT). DKI-derived metrics included mean kurtosis (MK), axial kurtosis (K axial), and radial kurtosis (K radial), and white matter modeling (WMM) parameters included axonal water fraction (AWF), tortuosity of the extra-axonal space, extra-axonal diffusivity (De axial and radial), and intra-axonal diffusivity. These metrics were used to determine the total number of abnormal voxels, defined as 2 standard deviations above or below the group mean. Linear regression analysis revealed a statistically significant relationship between RWEcp and MK. Secondary analysis of other DKI-derived and WMM metrics demonstrated statistically significant linear relationships with RWEcp after covariate adjustment. These results were compared with the results of DTI-derived metrics from the same imaging sessions in this exact same cohort. Several of the DKI-derived scalars (Da, MK, K axial, and K radial) explained more variance when compared to RWEcp, suggesting that DKI may be more sensitive to subconcussive head impacts. No significant relationships between DKI-derived metrics and ImPACT measures were found. It is important to note, the pathological implications of these metrics are not well understood. In summary, we demonstrate a single season of high school football can produce DKI measurable changes in the absence of clinically diagnosed concussion.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, June 13, 2016

Learn something

What Do Test Scores Miss? The Importance of Teacher Effects on Non-Test Score Outcomes

Kirabo Jackson

NBER Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
This paper extends the traditional test-score value-added model of teacher quality to allow for the possibility that teachers affect a variety of student outcomes through their effects on both students’ cognitive and noncognitive skill. Results show that teachers have effects on skills not measured by test-scores, but reflected in absences, suspensions, course grades, and on-time grade progression. Teacher effects on these non-test-score outcomes in 9th grade predict effects on high-school completion and predictors of college-going — above and beyond their effects on test scores. Relative to using only test-score measures of teacher quality, including both test-score and non-test-score measures more than doubles the predictable variability of teacher effects on these longer-run outcomes.

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Classroom Composition and Measured Teacher Performance: What Do Teacher Observation Scores Really Measure?

Matthew Steinberg & Rachel Garrett

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, June 2016, Pages 293-317

Abstract:
As states and districts implement more rigorous teacher evaluation systems, measures of teacher performance are increasingly being used to support instruction and inform retention decisions. Classroom observations take a central role in these systems, accounting for the majority of teacher ratings upon which accountability decisions are based. Using data from the Measures of Effective Teaching study, we explore the extent to which classroom composition influences measured teacher performance based on classroom observation scores. The context in which teachers work — most notably, the incoming academic performance of their students — plays a critical role in determining teachers’ measured performance. Furthermore, the intentional sorting of teachers to students has a significant influence on measured performance. Implications for high-stakes teacher accountability policies are discussed.

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Signaling in Higher Education: The Effect of Access to Elite Colleges on Choice of Major

Valerie Bostwick

Economic Inquiry, July 2016, Pages 1383–1401

Abstract:
I propose a model of postsecondary education in which major field of study can be used by individuals to signal productivity to employers. Under this signaling model, I show that geographic areas with high access to elite universities result in fewer science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors among lower ability students at nonelite colleges. This is distinct from the prediction of a full information model in which access to elite schools should only affect high ability individuals directly. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Baccalaureate & Beyond survey, I find evidence that is consistent with the signaling model prediction, specifically a 2.3–3.7 percentage point or 16%–25% decrease in the probability of choosing a STEM major among lower ability students in areas with greater access to elite colleges.

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Giving College Credit Where it is Due: Advanced Placement Exam Scores and College Outcomes

Jonathan Smith, Michael Hurwitz & Christopher Avery

Journal of Labor Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We implement a regression discontinuity design using the continuous raw Advanced Placement (AP) exam scores, which are mapped into the observed 1-5 integer scores, for over 4.5 million students. Earning higher AP integer scores positively impacts college completion and subsequent exam taking. Specifically, attaining credit-granting integer scores increases the probability that a student will receive a bachelor’s degree within four years by 1 to 2 percentage points per exam. We also find that receiving a score of 3 over a 2 on junior year AP exams causes students to take between 0.06 and 0.14 more AP exams senior year.

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Student Loan Information Provision and Academic Choices

Maximilian Schmeiser, Christiana Stoddard & Carly Urban

American Economic Review, May 2016, Pages 324-328

Abstract:
We examine the effect of a student loan information intervention on changes in college major using administrative data from the Montana University System from 2002-2014. Our difference-in-difference-in-differences strategy exploits the relative trends for students at Montana State University above and below the cutoff for receiving a warning letter about their student debt, compared to their counterparts at the University of Montana. We find that students who receive information suggesting they may be unlikely to be able to repay their loans are more likely to switch to higher earning majors, with higher academic performers most likely to choose STEM fields.

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Returns to Education: The Causal Effects of Education on Earnings, Health and Smoking

James Heckman, John Eric Humphries & Gregory Veramendi

NBER Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
This paper estimates returns to education using a dynamic model of educational choice that synthesizes approaches in the structural dynamic discrete choice literature with approaches used in the reduced form treatment effect literature. It is an empirically robust middle ground between the two approaches which estimates economically interpretable and policy-relevant dynamic treatment effects that account for heterogeneity in cognitive and non-cognitive skills and the continuation values of educational choices. Graduating college is not a wise choice for all. Ability bias is a major component of observed educational differentials. For some, there are substantial causal effects of education at all stages of schooling.

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Why Do We Tenure? Analysis of a Long Standing Risk-Based Explanation

Jonathan Brogaard, Joseph Engelberg & Edward Dickersin Van Wesep

University of Colorado Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
Using a sample of all academics that pass through top 50 economics and finance departments between 1996 and 2014, we study whether the granting of tenure leads faculty to pursue riskier ideas. We use the extreme tails of ex-post citations as our measure of risk and find that both the number of publications and the portion that are “home runs” peak at tenure and fall steadily for a decade thereafter. Similar patterns holds for elite (top 10) institutions, for faculty with longer tenure cycles, and for promotion to Full Professorship. We find the opposite pattern among poorly-cited publications: their numbers steadily rise after tenure. The decline in both the quantity and quality of publications points to tenure incentivizing less effort in publishing rather than more risk-taking.

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Cognitive and emotional outcomes after prolonged education: A quasi-experiment on 320 182 Swedish boys

Anton Lager et al.

International Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Background: Cognitive and socio-emotional abilities are powerful predictors of death and disease as well as of social and economic outcomes. Education is societies’ main way of promoting these abilities, ideally so that inequalities by socioeconomic background are reduced. However, the extent to which education serves these cognitive, social-emotional and equality objectives is relatively unknown and intensively debated. Drawing on a Swedish school reform that was explicitly designed as a massive quasi-experiment, we assessed differential impact of education on intelligence and emotional control across childhood socioeconomic position. We also assessed initial differences in abilities by childhood socioeconomic position and how well childhood socioeconomic position and abilities predict all-cause mortality.

Methods: The Swedish comprehensive school reform, rolled out during the 1950s, extended compulsory education from 8 to 9 years in some municipalities whereas others were kept as controls for the sake of evaluation. We followed eight full cohorts of Swedish boys born between 1951 and 1958, who lived in 1017 municipalities with known experimental status (344 336 boys) and whose childhood socioeconomic position was known (320 182 boys). At conscription, intelligence was measured by four subtests and emotional control (calm and efficient responses in various situations) was rated by a military psychologist. Both measures were standardized to have a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15. All-cause mortality was recorded until 49–56 years of age.

Results: The reform had an average positive impact on intelligence of 0.75 IQ units (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.54, 0.97; P < 0.0005). The impact on emotional control was negative; −0.50 units (95% CI: −0.72, −0.28; P < 0.0005). Both effects differed by socioeconomic background so that the average IQ difference between sons of high non-manual and unqualified manual workers was reduced from 16.32 to 15.57 units and the difference in emotional control was reduced from 6.50 to 5.63 units. All-cause mortality was predicted by low childhood socioeconomic position [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.15 [95% CI: 1.11, 1.20], P < 0.0005], low intelligence [HR = 1.39 (95% CI: 1.34, 1.44), P < 0.0005] as well as low emotional control [HR = 1.61 (95% CI: 1.55, 1.67), P < 0.0005] in mutually adjusted models.

Conclusions: Extending compulsory education promoted intelligence but lowered emotional control, and reduced disparities over social background in both. Emotional control was the strongest predictor of all-cause mortality. Our results are in line with the idea that education is important in our efforts to achieve healthy, competent and fair societies, but much more work is needed to understand the links between education and non-cognitive skills.

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Gainfully Employed? Assessing the Employment and Earnings of For-Profit College Students Using Administrative Data

Stephanie Riegg Cellini & Nicholas Turner

NBER Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
We draw on population-level administrative data from the U.S. Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service to quantify the impact of for-profit college attendance on the employment and earnings of over 1.4 million students. We characterize both the within-student earnings effects and joint distributions of earnings effects and increases in student debt. Our descriptive analysis of degree-seeking students suggests that on average associate’s and bachelor’s degree students experience a decline in earnings after attendance, relative to their own earnings in years prior to attendance. Master’s degree students and students who complete their degrees appear to experience better outcomes, with positive earnings effects. Our difference-in-difference analysis of certificate students suggests that despite the much higher costs of attendance, earnings effects are smaller in the for-profit sector relative to the effects for comparable students in public community colleges—a result that holds for all but one of the top ten fields of study. In absolute terms, we find no evidence of improved earnings post-enrollment for students in any of the top ten for-profit fields and we can rule out that average effects are driven by a few low-performing institutions.

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The impact of education tax benefits on college completion

Mahmoud Elsayed

Economics of Education Review, August 2016, Pages 16–30

Abstract:
This paper uses a nationally representative sample from the 2004-09 Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) survey to examine the effect of education tax benefits on college completion. The paper employs a propensity score matching approach to correct for differences between eligible and ineligible students. Results suggest that tax benefits increase the likelihood of completing a college degree by 8 percentage points. The effect of tax benefits is largest for students who attended private and four-year institutions.

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Student Responsiveness to Earnings Data in the College Scorecard

Michael Hurwitz & Jonathan Smith

College Board Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
The release of the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard in September 2015 has the potential to influence millions of students’ college decisions. Each college’s scorecard includes the college’s annual cost and graduation rate in addition to the previously unavailable median earnings. Using the universe of SAT score sends to colleges and the exact date on which these scores are sent, we estimate how students respond to the release of these quality metrics. We find that data on annual cost and graduation rate, both of which were previously available, did not impact the volume of score sends received by colleges. By contrast, we estimate that each 10 percent increase in earnings results in a 2.4 percent increase in score sends. The impact is driven almost entirely by well-resourced high schools and students.

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On-Task in a Box: An Evaluation of a Package-Ready Intervention for Increasing Levels of On-Task Behavior and Academic Performance

Brian King et al.

School Psychology Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present study tested the efficacy of the On-Task in a Box program for increasing on-task behavior and academic accuracy of highly off-task students. Six students in 2nd and 3rd grades were identified by their classroom teacher as highly off-task. Following identification, the students participated in the On-Task in a Box intervention. Results of the study found immediate and large effects, which were maintained following discontinuation of the intervention. Collateral improvements in accuracy on math probes completed during independent seatwork were also observed. Teacher and participant responses to intervention acceptability questionnaires indicate the program was viewed positively. Implications for school-based adoption of the program are presented, and limitations and future research are discussed.

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The Relative Benefits of Live versus Online Delivery: Evidence from Virtual Algebra I in North Carolina

Jennifer Heissel

Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over one million K-12 students pursue virtual education every year, but researchers know very little about the effectiveness of such programs. This paper exploits a district policy change that suddenly shifted advanced eighth graders into a virtual classroom for Algebra I. After the policy, higher-ability eighth graders in the treatment district began taking Algebra I in the virtual classroom at rates similar to the statewide average of their peers in traditional classrooms. The change in course delivery provides a unique opportunity to study effects of a virtual course on academic outcomes. The analysis uses variation in program uptake across performance quintile, district, and year in a difference-in-difference-in-difference approach to estimate the causal effect of the virtual course, finding that eighth grade virtual students tend to underperform relative to eighth graders who took Algebra I in a traditional classroom and relative to pre-policy, same-district students who had to take the course in ninth grade.

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A Crisis in Student Loans?: How Changes in the Characteristics of Borrowers and in the Institutions They Attended Contributed to Rising Loan Defaults

Adam Looney & Constantine Yannelis

Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Fall 2015, Pages 1-89

Abstract:
This paper examines the rise in student loan default and delinquency. It draws on a unique set of administrative data on federal student borrowing matched to earnings records from de-identified tax records. Most of the increase in default is associated with borrowers at for-profit schools, 2-year institutions, and certain other nonselective institutions. Historically, students at these institutions have constituted a small share of all student borrowers. These nontraditional borrowers have largely come from lower-income families, attended institutions with relatively weak educational outcomes, faced poor labor market outcomes after leaving school, and defaulted at high rates. In contrast, default rates have remained low among borrowers who attended most 4-year public and nonprofit private institutions and among graduate school borrowers — who collectively represent the vast majority of the federal loan portfolio — despite the severe recession and these borrowers’ relatively high loan balances. The higher earnings, low rates of unemployment, and greater family resources of this latter category of borrowers appear to have helped them avoid adverse loan outcomes even during times of hardship. Decomposition analysis indicates that changes in the characteristics of borrowers and the institutions they attended are associated with much of the doubling in default rates between 2000 and 2011, with changes in the type of schools attended, debt burdens, and labor market outcomes explaining the largest share.

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Denying loan access: The student-level consequences when community colleges opt out of the Stafford loan program

Mark Wiederspan

Economics of Education Review, April 2016, Pages 79–96

Abstract:
The degree to which students are able to make adequate repayments on their student loans and avoid default is of special concern for colleges. If too many former students go into default, the college will face sanctions by the federal government and lose eligibility to provide currently enrolled students federal financial aid, such as the Pell grant. To avoid these sanctions, some colleges have chosen not to participate in federal loan programs by excluding loans from students' financial aid packages. In this article, I investigate the student-level impacts associated with the decision of community colleges to opt out of the Stafford loan program. Utilizing administrative records from over 50 community colleges located in a single state, I estimate the within-college differences in outcomes for Pell-eligible students before and after an institution opts out of the federal loan program. I find that Pell-eligible students enrolling when the community college offered federal loans were 7.6 percentage points more likely to borrow than Pell-eligible students who enrolled when the institutions opted out. Overall borrowing also increased by $368 a year. I also find that students borrowing a loan attempted 19 additional credits in their first year of enrollment and were more likely to attempt and complete math and science courses than non-borrowers.

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Education loans and wealth building among young adults

Min Zhan, Xiaoling Xiang & William Elliott

Children and Youth Services Review, July 2016, Pages 67–75

Abstract:
With the use of education loans growing rapidly as a way to finance college education, it is important to examine how such loans impact the future financial well-being. This study examines the association between education loans and postcollege wealth accumulation among young adults, the group with the greatest share of outstanding education loans. Data come from 15 rounds of data of the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, and the analyses control for a number of student characteristics, college experiences, and parental income. Results from a treatment-effects model indicate that having education loans upon leaving college is negatively related to postcollege net worth, financial assets, nonfinancial assets, and value of primary housing. Furthermore, having education loans also has an additional negative link to the value of net worth among Black young adults. The relationship between the amount of education loans and wealth accumulation is not statistically significant among those with outstanding loans. The study findings indicate the importance of developing alternative approaches, instead of additional loans and other credits, to meet the financial needs of college students.

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What About Certificates? Evidence on the Labor Market Returns to Nondegree Community College Awards in Two States

Di Xu & Madeline Trimble

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, June 2016, Pages 272-292

Abstract:
The annual number of certificates awarded by community colleges has increased dramatically, but relatively little research has been conducted on the economic benefits of certificates in the labor market. Based on detailed student-level information from matched college transcript and employment data in two states, this article estimates the relationship between earning a certificate and student earnings and employment status after exiting college. Our results indicate that certificates have positive impacts on earnings in both states overall, and in cases where there is no impact on earnings, certificates may nonetheless lead to increased probability of employment. In addition, we find substantial variation in the returns across fields of study and, more importantly, across specific programs within a particular field. Finally, in-depth analysis of the industry of employment before and after college enrollment indicates that many adult learners use certificate programs to switch to a new industry, which may not necessarily boost their earnings, at least in the short run. Our results therefore point to the importance of including multiple measures to evaluate the benefits of a certificate program, rather than merely evaluating its impact on overall earnings.

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Are College Costs Worth it? How Ability, Major, and Debt Affect the Returns to Schooling

Douglas Webber

Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the financial value over the course of a lifetime of pursuing a college degree under a variety of different settings (e.g. major, student loan debt, individual ability). I account for ability/selection bias and the probability that entering freshmen will not eventually graduate. I find the financial proposition of attending college is a sound investment for most individuals and cost scenarios, although some scenarios do not pay off until late in life, or ever. I estimate the present discounted value of attending college for the median student to vary between $85,000 and $300,000 depending on the student’s major. Most importantly, the results of this paper emphasize the role that risk (e.g. the nontrivial chance that a student will not eventually graduate) plays in the cost-benefit analysis of obtaining a college degree.

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Determinants of Organizational Failure in the Milwaukee School Voucher Program

Michael Ford & Fredrik Andersson

Policy Studies Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this article, we utilize 25 years of data on the Milwaukee voucher program to test the relationships among organizational liabilities of newness, institutional affiliation, market-share, and regulatory environment on the cumulative risk of school failure. Overall, we find that 41 percent of all private voucher schools operating in Milwaukee between 1991 and 2015 failed. Start-up voucher schools, and those unaffiliated with a larger institution, have comparatively higher failure risk over time. The results of our analysis shed light onto one of the long-term impacts of a public policy reform premised on social entrepreneurship. We conclude that policymakers should consider the consequences of organizational failure when utilizing nongovernment entities in the provision of public goods, and that scholars focus increased attention to understanding the negative externalities created by public entrepreneurship.

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Sitting on a stability ball improves attention span and reduces anxious/depressive symptomatology among grade 2 students: A prospective case-control field experiment

Anca Gaston, Sherri Moore & Leslie Butler International

Journal of Educational Research, 2016, Pages 136–142

Abstract:
This study used a prospective matched case-control design to examine the effects of sitting on a stability ball on inattention, hyperactivity, oppositional defiant behaviours, and anxious/depressive symptomatology among 23 experimental and 18 control grade 2 students. Classroom teachers completed the NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment Scale at baseline and 8-weeks (T2) and 5-months (T3) after the experimental group switched to stability balls. Social validity was assessed at year-end. ANCOVAs controlling for baseline scores demonstrated that students in the experimental condition had improved attention at T2 and T3 and reduced anxious/depressive symptoms at T2. All students and the classroom teacher preferred the balls. In conclusion, sitting on stability balls is well received and may represent an effective classroom management strategy for improving attention.

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A day at the museum: The impact of field trips on middle school science achievement

Emilyn Ruble Whitesell

Journal of Research in Science Teaching, forthcoming

Abstract:
Field trips are an important feature of the United States’ education system, although in the current context of high-stakes tests and school accountability, many schools are shifting resources away from enrichment. It is critical to understand how field trips and other informal learning experiences contribute to student test scores, but little research has explored the impact of field trips on standard measures of academic learning. In this study, I used 6 years of student-level data to estimate the impact of field trips to informal science education institutions on New York City students’ performance on the state's standardized eighth-grade science exam. Using a rigorous identification strategy with school fixed effects to capitalize on variation in field trip participation within schools over time, I found small positive effects of exposure to field trips on students’ science test scores and proficiency. Effects were largest for Hispanic students and those who qualified for free or reduced-price lunch. This evidence that field trips can contribute positively to student achievement is meaningful for policymakers and administrators, as it suggests schools can provide enrichment experiences that families desire without sacrificing student test scores. The study suggests that field trips might be an effective tool for reducing achievement gaps.

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Teacher Quality Differences Between Teacher Preparation Programs: How Big? How Reliable? Which Programs Are Different?

Paul von Hippel et al.

Economics of Education Review, August 2016, Pages 31–45

Abstract:
Sixteen US states have begun to hold teacher preparation programs (TPPs) accountable for teacher quality, as estimated by teacher value-added to student test scores. Yet it is not easy to identify TPPs whose teachers are substantially better or worse than average. The true differences between TPPs are small; the estimated differences are not very reliable; and when many TPPs are compared, multiple comparisons increase the danger of misclassifying ordinary TPPs as good or bad. Using large and diverse data from Texas, we evaluate statistical methods for estimating teacher quality differences between TPPs. The most convincing estimates come from a value-added model where confidence intervals are widened by the Bonferroni correction and by the inclusion of teacher random effects (or teacher clustering in large TPPs). Using these confidence intervals, it is rarely possible to tell which TPPs, if any, are better or worse than average. The potential benefits of TPP accountability may be too small to balance the risk that a proliferation of noisy TPP estimates will encourage arbitrary and ineffective policy actions.

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School Reforms and Pupil Performance

Andrew Eyles, Claudia Hupkau & Stephen Machin

Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The relationship between school reforms, specifically those involving the introduction of new school types, and pupil performance is studied. The particular context is the introduction of academy schools in England, but related evidence on Swedish free schools and US charter schools is also presented. The empirical evidence shows a causal positive impact of the conversion of disadvantaged schools to academies on end of school pupil performance and on subsequent probability of degree completion at university. There is heterogeneity in this impact, such that more disadvantaged pupils and those attending London academies experience bigger performance improvements.

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School District and Housing Price Responses to Fiscal Stress Labels: Evidence from Ohio

Paul Thompson

Journal of Urban Economics, July 2016, Pages 54–72

Abstract:
This paper examines the effect of the Ohio fiscal stress labeling system on school district outcomes and housing prices. Under this policy, financially troubled districts are labeled and required to implement financial recovery plans. In response to these plans, districts increase local tax revenues and decrease capital and operating expenditures. Although these recovery plans lead to better long-term financial health for school districts, there appear to be some negative impacts on welfare in these districts during the duration of the label. I find that residential home sale prices fall following fiscal stress label receipt, but rise again once the label is removed. These districts also undergo substantial restructuring, including reductions in enrollments, teachers, and schools, which coincide with a transitory reduction in math proficiency rates following label receipt.

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The Marginal Effect of K-12 English Language Development Programs: Evidence from Los Angeles Schools

Nolan Pope

Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The growing number of K-12 non-native English speaking students increases the value of optimizing education policy to meet their academic needs. Using a regression discontinuity in test scores from the Los Angeles Unified School District, I analyze the optimal age and English proficiency level for students to enter and exit English language development (ELD) programs. I find marginal kindergarteners receive small academic gains from entering ELD classes. Marginal 2nd to 4th graders who are reclassified from ELD to mainstream English classes receive large benefits to their English test scores (0.25 SD) and GPA that persist over the next 7 years. Boys receive the majority of the benefits. I find no evidence that students reclassified in later grades receive any benefit. Achievement gains can be obtained by enrolling more students into ELD programs in kindergarten and choosing to transition them into mainstream English classes sooner.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Collective

Women's connectivity in extreme networks

Pedro Manrique et al.

Science Advances, 10 June 2016

Abstract:
A popular stereotype is that women will play more minor roles than men as environments become more dangerous and aggressive. Our analysis of new longitudinal data sets from offline and online operational networks [for example, ISIS (Islamic State)] shows that although men dominate numerically, women emerge with superior network connectivity that can benefit the underlying system's robustness and survival. Our observations suggest new female-centric approaches that could be used to affect such networks. They also raise questions about how individual contributions in high-pressure systems are evaluated.

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The Evolutionary Origins of Hierarchy

Henok Mengistu et al.

PLoS Computational Biology, June 2016

Abstract:
Hierarchical organization - the recursive composition of sub-modules - is ubiquitous in biological networks, including neural, metabolic, ecological, and genetic regulatory networks, and in human-made systems, such as large organizations and the Internet. To date, most research on hierarchy in networks has been limited to quantifying this property. However, an open, important question in evolutionary biology is why hierarchical organization evolves in the first place. It has recently been shown that modularity evolves because of the presence of a cost for network connections. Here we investigate whether such connection costs also tend to cause a hierarchical organization of such modules. In computational simulations, we find that networks without a connection cost do not evolve to be hierarchical, even when the task has a hierarchical structure. However, with a connection cost, networks evolve to be both modular and hierarchical, and these networks exhibit higher overall performance and evolvability (i.e. faster adaptation to new environments). Additional analyses confirm that hierarchy independently improves adaptability after controlling for modularity. Overall, our results suggest that the same force - the cost of connections - promotes the evolution of both hierarchy and modularity, and that these properties are important drivers of network performance and adaptability. In addition to shedding light on the emergence of hierarchy across the many domains in which it appears, these findings will also accelerate future research into evolving more complex, intelligent computational brains in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics.

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Synchronized Behavior Increases Assessments of the Formidability and Cohesion of Coalitions

Daniel Fessler & Colin Holbrook

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Synchronized behavior is a common feature of martial drills and military parades in many societies. Hagen and colleagues (Hagen & Bryant, 2003; Hagen & Hammerstein, 2009) hypothesized that the intentional enactment of synchronized behavior evolved as a means of signaling coalitional strength, as individuals who can synchronize are able to act in concert in agonistic contexts. Previous research has explored either the subjective consequences of synchrony for participants in synchronized behaviors or the effect of synchrony on observers' impressions of rapport among the synchronized actors. Critically, left untested is the central tenet that, by communicating that the individuals constitute a coordinated unit, synchronized behaviors signal elevated fighting capacity. We tested this prediction in two studies by asking large U.S. samples to judge the envisioned physical formidability - previously demonstrated to summarize assessments of diverse determinants of fighting capacity - of U.S. soldiers or terrorists on the basis of audio tracks of either synchronous or asynchronous footsteps. Consonant with the agonistic signaling hypothesis, participants judged the synchronized target individuals to be larger and more muscular than the unsynchronized individuals, an effect mediated by their assessment that the former collectively constitute a single unified entity. Although synchronized footsteps also enhanced listeners' perceptions of social bonding among the target individuals, this assessment did not mediate their judgments of elevated formidability, suggesting that synchrony primarily signals fighting capacity via revealed entitativity rather than inferred motivation.

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How norm violations shape social hierarchies: Those who stand on top block norm violators from rising up

Eftychia Stamkou et al.

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Norm violations engender both negative reactions and perceptions of power from observers. We addressed this paradox by examining whether observers' tendency to grant power to norm followers versus norm violators is moderated by the observer's position in the hierarchy. Because norm violations threaten the status quo, we hypothesized that individuals higher in a hierarchy (high verticality) would be less likely to grant power to norm violators compared to individuals lower in the hierarchy (low verticality). In 14 studies (Ntotal = 1,704), we measured participants' trait verticality (sense of power, socioeconomic status, testosterone) and manipulated state verticality (power position, status, dominance). A meta-analysis revealed that higher ranked participants granted less power to norm violators than lower ranked individuals, presumably because the former support social stratification. Interestingly, these effects occurred for trait but not state verticality. Overall, negative reactions to deviants may be driven by hierarchy-maintenance motives by those in privileged positions.

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Dynamics of Communicator and Audience Power: The Persuasiveness of Competence versus Warmth

David Dubois, Derek Rucker & Adam Galinsky

Journal of Consumer Research, June 2016, Pages 68-85

Abstract:
The current research offers a new theoretical perspective on the relationship between power and persuasion. An agentic-communal model of power is presented that proposes power affects both the messages generated by communicators and the messages that persuade audiences. Compared to low-power states, high-power states produce a greater emphasis on information that conveys competence. As a consequence, high-power communicators generate messages with greater competence information, and high-power audiences are persuaded more by competence information. In contrast to high-power states, low-power states produce a greater emphasis on information that conveys warmth. As a result, low-power communicators generate messages with greater warmth information, and low-power audiences are persuaded more by warmth information. Because of these two outcomes, a power-matching effect occurs between communicator and audience power: high-power communicators are more effective in persuading high-power audience members, whereas low-power communicators are more effective in persuading low-power audience members. Four experiments find support for these effects in oral and written contexts with three distinct manipulations of power. Overall, these experiments demonstrate that the persuasiveness of messages can be affected by the alignment between the psychological sense of power of the communicator and the audience.

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Unselective Overimitators: The Evolutionary Implications of Children's Indiscriminate Copying of Successful and Prestigious Models

Maciej Chudek, Andrew Baron & Susan Birch

Child Development, May/June 2016, Pages 782-794

Abstract:
Children are both shrewd about whom to copy - they selectively learn from certain adults - and overimitators - they copy adults' obviously superfluous actions. Is overimitation also selective? Does selectivity change with age? In two experiments, 161 two- to seven-year-old children saw videos of one adult receiving better payoffs or more bystander attention than another. Children then watched the adults perform unnecessary actions on novel transparent devices. Children preferred the adult who received greater payoffs or bystander attention when asked questions like "Who do you think is smarter?" but overimitated both adults' unnecessary actions equally. Although older children overimitated more, unselectivity was consistent across ages. This pattern hints at a plausible adaptive function of overimitation: acquiring rarely demonstrated behaviors by practising them immediately.

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Narcissistic Reactions to Subordinate Role Assignment: The Case of the Narcissistic Follower

Alex Benson, Christian Jordan & Amy Christie

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, July 2016, Pages 985-999

Abstract:
Narcissists aspire to be leaders and consequently may react negatively to being assigned a subordinate role, even though such roles may be integral to group functioning. In the first three studies, participants were assigned to a low status role (i.e., "employee"), high status role (i.e., "project manager"), or (in Studies 2 and 3) control condition. More narcissistic participants were less satisfied and discredited the role assignment more in the employee condition than in the project manager condition. Furthermore, more narcissistic participants displayed greater self-interest in the employee condition, relative to the project manager condition (Study 2), and less willingness to engage in behaviors to benefit the group in the employee condition, relative to the project manager and control conditions (Study 3). In Study 4, these findings were replicated in sports teams. Although there is nothing inherently negative about subordinate roles, narcissists perceive them negatively and react poorly to occupying them.

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Imagined contact encourages prosocial behavior towards outgroup members

Rose Meleady & Charles Seger

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Imagined contact is a relatively new technique designed to focus the accumulated knowledge of over 500 studies of intergroup contact into a simple and versatile prejudice-reduction intervention. While it is now clear that imagined contact can improve intergroup attitudes, its ability to change actual intergroup behavior is less well established. Some emerging findings provide cause for optimism with nonverbal, and unobtrusive measures of behavior. This paper extends this work by adopting methods from behavioral economics to examine more deliberative behavior. Participants believed they were playing a prisoner's dilemma with an outgroup member. They could choose whether to cooperate or compete with the other player. In three studies, we provide reliable evidence that imagined contact (vs. control) successfully encouraged more prosocial, cooperative choices. In the third study we show that this effect is mediated by increased trust towards the outgroup member. The findings demonstrate that imagined contact interventions can have a tangible impact on volitional intergroup behaviors.

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Oxytocin promotes intuitive rather than deliberated cooperation with the in-group

Femke Ten Velden, Katie Daughters & Carsten De Dreu

Hormones and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
In intergroup settings, individuals prefer cooperating with their in-group, and sometimes derogate and punish out-groups. Here we replicate earlier work showing that such in-group bounded cooperation is conditioned by oxytocin and extend it by showing that oxytocin-motivated in-group cooperation is intuitive rather than deliberated. Healthy males (N = 65) and females (N = 129) self-administered intranasal placebo or 24 IU oxytocin in a double-blind placebo-controlled between-subjects design, were assigned to a three-person in-group (that faced a 3-person out-group), and given an endowment from which they could contribute to a within-group pool (benefitting the in-group), and/or to a between-group pool (benefitting the in-group and punishing the out-group). Prior to decision-making, participants performed a Stroop Interference task that was either cognitively taxing, or not. Cognitively taxed individuals kept less to themselves and contributed more to the within-group pool. Furthermore, participants receiving placebo contributed more to the within-group pool when they were cognitively taxed rather than not; those receiving oxytocin contributed to the within-group pool regardless of cognitive taxation. Neither taxation nor treatment influenced contributions to the between-group pool, and no significant sex differences were observed. It follows that in intergroup settings (i) oxytocin increases in-group bounded cooperation, (ii) oxytocin neither reduces nor increases out-group directed spite, and (iii) oxytocin-induced in-group cooperation is independent of cognitive taxation and, therefore, likely to be intuitive rather than consciously deliberated.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Mixing it up

Changes in American Adults' Reported Same-Sex Sexual Experiences and Attitudes, 1973-2014

Jean Twenge, Ryne Sherman & Brooke Wells

Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examined change over time in the reported prevalence of men having sex with men and women having sex with women and acceptance of those behaviors in the nationally representative General Social Survey of U.S. adults (n's = 28,161-33,728, ages 18-96 years), 1972-2014. The number of U.S. adults who had at least one same-sex partner since age 18 doubled between the early 1990s and early 2010s (from 3.6 to 8.7 % for women and from 4.5 to 8.2 % for men). Bisexual behavior (having sex with both male and female partners) increased from 3.1 to 7.7 %, accounting for much of the rise, with little consistent change in those having sex exclusively with same-sex partners. The increase in same-sex partners was larger for women than for men, consistent with erotic plasticity theory. Attitudes toward same-sex sexual behavior also became substantially more accepting, d = .75, between the early 1970s and early 2010s. By 2014, 49 % of American adults believed that same-sex sexual activity was "not wrong at all," up from 11 % in 1973 and 13 % in 1990. Controlling for acceptance reduced, but did not eliminate, the increase in same-sex behavior over time. Mixed effects (hierarchical linear modeling) analyses separating age, time period, and cohort showed that the trends were primarily due to time period. Increases in same-sex sexual behavior were largest in the South and Midwest and among Whites, were mostly absent among Blacks, and were smaller among the religious. Overall, same-sex sexual behavior has become both more common (or at least more commonly reported) and more accepted.

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Daily exposure to negative campaign messages decreases same-sex couples' psychological and relational well-being

David Frost & Adam Fingerhut

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, July 2016, Pages 477-492

Abstract:
Throughout history, the rights of stigmatized minority group members have been subject to popular debate and voter referenda. The impact of the resulting devaluing social discourse on the well-being of minority group members remains unknown. For example, exposure to the discourse leading up to decisions on same-sex marriage may have negative consequences for sexual minority individuals and same-sex couples. We examined the impact of exposure to same-sex marriage campaign messages (e.g., commercials, billboards, yard signs) on the psychological and relational well-being of couples living in the four states that had same-sex marriage voter initiatives in the 2012 general election. Sixty-two same-sex couples (N = 124) completed a baseline survey and 10 daily diary reports during the month before the election. Daily exposure to negative campaign messages was associated with increased negative affect and decreased positive affect and relationship satisfaction. These associations persisted controlling for baseline levels of depression and daily fluctuations in general stress among both members of the couple. Exposure to a devaluing social discourse regarding the rights of same-sex couples represents a unique form of social stress resulting in negative consequences for the psychological and relational well-being of same-sex couples. Thus, the health of same-sex couples may be of particular concern in contexts where marriage policy decisions are pending and the subject of popular debate.

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When love meets hate: The relationship between state policies on gay and lesbian rights and hate crime incidence

Brian Levy & Denise Levy

Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do public policies on gay and lesbian rights affect the incidence of hate crimes based on sexual orientation? We propose that legal inequalities increase hate crimes because they provide discursive opportunities for bias, discrimination, and violence. Legal equality, however, will reduce violence. Using annual panel data from 2000 to 2012, a period of substantial policy change, we analyze how three state policies affect reported hate crimes: same-sex partnerships, employment non-discrimination, and hate crime laws. Hate crime and employment non-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation reduce hate crime incidence. Partnership recognition increases reported hate crimes, though it may not increase actual crime incidence. Because incidence is spatially correlated, policy changes in one state yield spillover benefits in other states. These results provide some of the first quantitative evidence that public policies affect hate crimes based on sexual orientation. Findings confirm the roles of institutional heterosexism and discursive opportunities in producing hate crimes.

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Straight until proven gay: A systematic bias toward straight categorizations in sexual orientation judgments

David Lick & Kerri Johnson

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, June 2016, Pages 801-817

Abstract:
Perceivers achieve above chance accuracy judging others' sexual orientations, but they also exhibit a notable response bias by categorizing most targets as straight rather than gay. Although a straight categorization bias is evident in many published reports, it has never been the focus of systematic inquiry. The current studies therefore document this bias and test the mechanisms that produce it. Studies 1-3 revealed the straight categorization bias cannot be explained entirely by perceivers' attempts to match categorizations to the number of gay targets in a stimulus set. Although perceivers were somewhat sensitive to base rate information, their tendency to categorize targets as straight persisted when they believed each target had a 50% chance of being gay (Study 1), received explicit information about the base rate of gay targets in a stimulus set (Study 2), and encountered stimulus sets with varying base rates of gay targets (Study 3). The remaining studies tested an alternate mechanism for the bias based upon perceivers' use of gender heuristics when judging sexual orientation. Specifically, Study 4 revealed the range of gendered cues compelling gay judgments is smaller than the range of gendered cues compelling straight judgments despite participants' acknowledgment of equal base rates for gay and straight targets. Study 5 highlighted perceptual experience as a cause of this imbalance: Exposing perceivers to hyper-gendered faces (e.g., masculine men) expanded the range of gendered cues compelling gay categorizations. Study 6 linked this observation to our initial studies by demonstrating that visual exposure to hyper-gendered faces reduced the magnitude of the straight categorization bias. Collectively, these studies provide systematic evidence of a response bias in sexual orientation categorization and offer new insights into the mechanisms that produce it.

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Can Being Gay Provide a Boost in the Hiring Process? Maybe If the Boss is Female

Benjamin Everly, Miguel Unzueta & Margaret Shih

Journal of Business and Psychology, June 2016, Pages 293-306

Design/Methodology/Approach: Data were collected from two samples of non-student participants. Each participant evaluated the perceived hirability of an ostensibly real job applicant by reviewing the applicant's resume. In reality, all participants were randomly assigned to evaluate the same fictitious resume that differed only in the gender and sexual orientation of the applicant.

Findings: We find that men perceived gay and lesbian job applicants as less hirable, while women perceived gay and lesbian job applicants as more hirable than heterosexual job applicants. Additionally, we show perceptions of hirability are mediated by perceptions of gay and lesbian job applicants' competence.

Implications: These results show that bias against gays and lesbians is much more nuanced than previous work suggests. One implication is that placing more women in selection roles within organizations could be a catalyst for the inclusion of gay and lesbian employees. Additionally, these results could influence when and how gays and lesbians disclose their gay identities at work.

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Construal level shapes associations between political conservatism and reactions to male same-sex intimacy

Ross Rogers, Matthew Vess & Clay Routlege

Social Psychology, Spring 2016, Pages 87-97

Abstract:
This research examined how construal level and the salience of moral values affect relationships between political ideology and moral reactions to same-sex issues. In Study 1 (N = 170), political conservatism was a stronger predictor of moral reactions to physical intimacy between a male same-sex couple (vs. an opposite-sex couple). However, this was only true among participants induced to adopt an abstract (vs. concrete) construal level. Study 2 (N = 152) found political conservatism was a stronger predictor of moral negativity to physical intimacy between men when the idea of moral purity (vs. fairness) was made salient. However, this effect only occurred among participants induced to adopt an abstract (vs. concrete) level of mental construal. The implications of this research for better understanding when social-cognitive factors interact with political ideology to influence moral reactions toward same-sex social policy issues are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pushing the button

Why concessions should not be made to terrorist kidnappers

Patrick Brandt, Justin George & Todd Sandler

European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the dynamic implications of making concessions to terrorist kidnappers. We apply a Bayesian Poisson changepoint model to kidnapping incidents associated with three cohorts of countries that differ in their frequency of granting concessions. Depending on the cohort of countries during 2001-2013, terrorist negotiation successes encouraged 64% to 87% more kidnappings. Our findings also hold for 1978-2013, during which these negotiation successes encouraged 26% to 57% more kidnappings. Deterrent aspects of terrorist casualties are also quantified; the dominance of religious fundamentalist terrorists meant that such casualties generally did not curb kidnappings.

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The Deterrent Effects of the International Criminal Court: Evidence from Libya

Courtney Hillebrecht

International Interactions, forthcoming

Abstract:
The International Criminal Court (ICC) was designed to try the worst war criminals for crimes against humanity, genocide and other instances of mass human suffering. By providing a permanent, international mechanism to hold perpetrators of mass human rights abuse accountable, the ICC is also meant to be a deterrent - to prevent potential genocidaires from committing systematic human rights abuses in the first place. But what if the effect is actually quite the opposite? While advocates of international justice have made conjectures about the effect of the ICC on stopping human rights abuses, the existing scholarship does not empirically test assumptions about the relationship between international criminal justice and violence. This article outlines the causal mechanisms by which the ICC could affect on-going violence and tests these assumptions using event count models of the relationship between the ICC and the level of violence against civilians in Libya during the 2011 crisis. These analyses suggest that the ICC's involvement in conflict does have a dampening effect on the level of mass atrocities committed. The results also call for a broad and sustained research agenda on the effect of international accountability efforts on on-going violence.

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What Explains the Flow of Foreign Fighters to ISIS?

Efraim Benmelech & Esteban Klor

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
This paper provides the first systematic analysis of the link between economic, political, and social conditions and the global phenomenon of ISIS foreign fighters. We find that poor economic conditions do not drive participation in ISIS. In contrast, the number of ISIS foreign fighters is positively correlated with a country's GDP per capita and Human Development Index (HDI). In fact, many foreign fighters originate from countries with high levels of economic development, low income inequality, and highly developed political institutions. Other factors that explain the number of ISIS foreign fighters are the size of a country's Muslim population and its ethnic homogeneity. Although we cannot directly determine why people join ISIS, our results suggest that the flow of foreign fighters to ISIS is driven not by economic or political conditions but rather by ideology and the difficulty of assimilation into homogeneous Western countries.

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Deal or No Deal? The End of the Cold War and the U.S. Offer to Limit NATO Expansion

Joshua Itzkowitz Shifrinson

International Security, Spring 2016, Pages 7-44

Abstract:
Did the United States promise the Soviet Union during the 1990 negotiations on German reunification that NATO would not expand into Eastern Europe? Since the end of the Cold War, an array of Soviet/Russian policymakers have charged that NATO expansion violates a U.S. pledge advanced in 1990; in contrast, Western scholars and political leaders dispute that the United States made any such commitment. Recently declassified U.S. government documents provide evidence supporting the Soviet/Russian position. Although no non-expansion pledge was ever codified, U.S. policymakers presented their Soviet counterparts with implicit and informal assurances in 1990 strongly suggesting that NATO would not expand in post-Cold War Europe if the Soviet Union consented to German reunification. The documents also show, however, that the United States used the reunification negotiations to exploit Soviet weaknesses by depicting a mutually acceptable post-Cold War security environment, while actually seeking a system dominated by the United States and opening the door to NATO's eastward expansion. The results of this analysis carry implications for international relations theory, diplomatic history, and current U.S.-Russian relations.

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It Matters Whether Probabilities are Expressed in Numbers Versus Words: Experimental Evidence from National Security Professionals

John Friedman, Jennifer Lerner & Richard Zeckhauser

Harvard Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
National security is one of many fields where public officials offer imprecise probability assessments when evaluating high-stakes decisions. This practice is often justified with arguments about how quantifying subjective judgments would bias analysts and decision makers toward overconfident action. We translate these arguments into testable hypotheses, and evaluate their validity through survey experiments involving national security professionals. Results reveal that when decision makers receive numerals (as opposed to words) for probability assessments, they are less likely to support risky actions and more receptive to gathering additional information, disconfirming the idea of a bias toward action. Yet when respondents generate probabilities themselves, using numbers (as opposed to words) magnifies overconfidence, especially among low-performing assessors. These results hone directions for research among both proponents and skeptics of quantifying probability estimates in national security and other fields. Given that uncertainty surrounds virtually all intelligence reports, military plans, and national security decisions, understanding how national security officials form and interpret probability assessments has wide-ranging implications for theory and practice.

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Judicial Restraint and the New War Powers

Jasmine Farrier

Presidential Studies Quarterly, June 2016, Pages 387-410

Abstract:
Over the past four decades, members of Congress have filed 10 lawsuits challenging military actions abroad that were ordered or sustained by presidents without prior legislative consent. In dismissing these cases, federal courts told the plaintiffs to use their legislative tools to show disapproval of the actions already in progress. Under this logic, the House and Senate must have a veto-proof supermajority to end an existing military engagement before a case can be heard on the merits. These precedents contrast with previous war powers cases initiated by private litigants, which focused on prior simple majority legislative authority for presidential action.

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Does Social Media Influence Conflict? Evidence from the 2012 Gaza Conflict

Thomas Zeitzoff

Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does international public support via social media influence conflict dynamics? To answer this question, I construct a unique, extremely disaggregated data set drawn from social media sources to examine the behavior of Israel and Hamas during the 2012 Gaza Conflict. The data set contains conflict actions and international audience behavior at the hourly level for the full 179 hours of the conflict. Notably, I also include popular support for each side from international audiences on social media. I employ a Bayesian structural vector autoregression to measure how Israel's and Hamas's actions respond to shifts in international public support. The main finding is that shifts in public support reduce conflict intensity, particularly for Israel. This effect is greater than the effect of the key international actors - United States, Egypt, and United Nations. The results provide an important insight into how information technology is changing the role of international audiences in conflict.

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The Contagion of Interstate Violence: Reminders of Historical Interstate (but Not Intrastate) Violence Increase Support for Future Violence Against Unrelated Third-Party States

Mengyao Li et al.

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Five experiments investigated the war contagion phenomenon in the context of international relations, hypothesizing that reminders of past inter- (but not intra-) state war will increase support for future, unrelated interstate violence. After being reminded of the Korean War as an interstate rather than intrastate conflict, South Koreans showed stronger support for violent responses to new, unrelated interstate tensions (Study 1). Replicating this war contagion effect among Americans, we demonstrated that it was mediated by heightened perceived threat from, and negative images of, a fictitious country unrelated to the past war (Study 2), and moderated by national glorification (Study 3). Study 4, using another international conflict in the U.S. history, provided further conceptual replication. Finally, Study 5 included a baseline in addition to the inter- versus intrastate manipulation, yielding further support for the generalized effect of past interstate war reminders on preferences for aggressive approaches to new interstate tensions.

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Terrorism and public opinion: The effects of terrorist attacks on the popularity of the president of the United States

David Randahl

Terrorism and Political Violence, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article uses a large-n dataset to investigate the effect of terrorist attacks with American victims on the popularity of the U.S. president. The study uses two broad theoretical frameworks to analyze this effect, the score-keeping framework and the rally-effect framework. The findings of the study show that, when excluding the effect from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, actual terrorist attacks have no generalizable short-term impact on the popularity of the U.S. president. This indicates that even though the topics of national security, terrorism, and the president's ability to handle these issues are important in the political debate in the United States, actual terrorism has little or no short-term impact on presidential approval ratings.

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Kantian Dynamics Revisited: Time Varying Analyses of Dyadic IGO-Conflict Relationships

Christopher Anderson, Sara McLaughlin Mitchell & Emily Schilling

International Interactions, forthcoming

Abstract:
The literature on international organizations (IGOs) and interstate conflict in world politics produces a series of contradictory theoretical arguments and empirical findings about how IGOs help to prevent conflict and promote peace between member states. Empirical studies find a range of inconsistent results ranging from pacifying effects of shared IGO memberships on dyadic militarized disputes to conflict inducing effects of shared IGO memberships to null relationships. Theoretically, we consider how IGOs promote the rule of peace preservation through the mechanisms of coercion, self-interest, and legitimacy and we describe how these mechanisms help explain the time varying relationships between shared IGOs memberships and militarized conflict since WWII. Analyses of time varying parameter models of dyad-year data from 1948 to 2000 suggest that shared IGO memberships reduce the likelihood of militarized conflict in some historical periods (Cold War), but increase the chances for dyadic conflict in other periods (post-Cold War). The design of IGOs is relevant as well, with security-based, highly institutionalized IGOs best suited to prevent militarized conflict between member states. The results suggest that evolutionary dynamics in the Kantian peace vary across legs of the Kantian tripod and that we cannot understand the Kantian peace without considering dynamic relationships over time.

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Reputations and Signaling in Coercive Bargaining

Todd Sechser

Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
When do states defend their reputations? States sometimes pay high costs to protect their reputations, but other times willingly tarnish them. What accounts for the difference? This article investigates reputation building in the context of coercive diplomacy. In coercive bargaining, giving in to a challenge can harm one's reputation. I argue, however, that states value their reputations less - and therefore are more willing to capitulate to coercive threats - when they do not expect future challenges. Using a data set of more than 200 coercive threats, empirical tests find support for this logic. Coercers that are constrained in their ability to initiate future challenges exhibit higher rates of coercive success in the status quo. The results shed light on the causes of reputation-building behavior and add an important element to our understanding of the dynamics of coercive diplomacy.

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Determinants of Foreign Aid: Rivalry and Domestic Instability

Gary Uzonyi & Toby Rider

International Interactions, forthcoming

Abstract:
Foreign aid is usually seen as a form of international cooperation. Thus, the expectation is that states engaged in international rivalry with one another should be unlikely to provide each other aid. However, they do provide their enemies aid. We consider how situations of uncertainty influence aid transfers between states. We argue that states may provide each other aid to limit uncertainty from potential regime changes that could lead to war. Such uncertainty is particularly bad for rivals who are prone to militarized conflict. We find that rivals may provide one another foreign aid when one of the countries is experiencing regime-threatening levels of domestic instability. We compare these results to the behavior of nonrivals and find that: Rivals are likely to provide their enemies aid in times of uncertainty; rivals are no less likely to give aid to each other than are nonrivals; and rivals provide more aid during times of instability than do nonrivals.

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Al-Qaeda's propaganda decoded: A psycholinguistic system for detecting variations in terrorism ideology

Shuki Cohen et al.

Terrorism and Political Violence, forthcoming

Abstract:
We describe a novel hybrid method of content analysis that combines the speed of computerized text analysis with the contextual sensitivity of human raters, and apply it to speeches that were given by major leaders of Al-Qaeda (AQ) - both in its "core" Afghanistan/Pakistan region and its affiliate group in Iraq. The proposed "Ideology Extraction using Linguistic Extremization" (IELEX) categorization method has acceptable levels of inter-rater and test-retest reliabilities. The method uncovered subtle (and potentially non-conscious) differences in the emphases that Usama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri put on the various components of their ideological justification for terrorism. We show how these differences were independently recognized as the crux of the rift in AQ, based on documents that were confiscated in Abbottabad following Usama Bin Laden's assassination. Additionally, several of the ideological discrepancies that we detected between AQ "core" and its Iraqi affiliate correspond to schisms that presumably led to the splintering of AQ Iraq and the rise of ISIS. We discuss IELEX's capability to quantify a variety of grievance-based terrorist ideologies, along with its use towards more focused and efficient counter-terrorism and counter-messaging policies.

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Recollection Bias and its Underpinnings: Lessons from Terrorism-Risk Assessments

Kip Viscusi & Richard Zeckhauser

Harvard Working Paper, January 2016

Abstract:
Recollection bias is the phenomenon whereby people, after observing a highly unexpected event, hold current risk beliefs about a similar event that are no higher than their recollection of their prior beliefs. This article explores recollection bias in relation to individuals' perceptions of the risks of terrorism attacks. Over 60% of respondents in a national U.S. sample of over 900 adults believe that the risks of a future terrorist attack by either an airplane or in a public setting are no higher than they believed respectively before the 9/11 attack and the Boston Marathon bombing. Only one-fifth of respondents are free of any type of recollection bias. Recollection bias is negatively correlated with absolute levels of risk belief. Recollection bias - basically the belief that perceived risks have not increased - dampens support for a variety of anti-terrorism measures, controlling for the level of risk beliefs and demographic factors. Public attitudes influence policy. Thus, educating the public about risk is critical.

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Going Global: Islamist Competition in Contemporary Civil Wars

Aisha Ahmad

Security Studies, Spring 2016, Pages 353-384

Abstract:
The global landscape of modern jihad is highly diverse and wrought with conflict between rival Islamist factions. Within this inter-Islamist competition, some factions prove to be more robust and durable than others. This research proposes that the adoption of a global identity allows an Islamist group to better recruit and expand their domestic political power across ethnic and tribal divisions without being constrained by local politics. Islamists that rely on an ethnic or tribal identity are more prone to group fragmentation, whereas global Islamists are better able to retain group cohesion by purging their ranks of dissenters. To examine these two processes, I present original field research and primary source analysis to examine Islamist in-fighting in Somalia from 2006-2014 and then expand my analysis to Iraq and Syria, Pakistan, and Mali.

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What Does Dabiq Do? ISIS Hermeneutics and Organizational Fractures within Dabiq Magazine

Brandon Colas

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)'s flagship English-language magazine, Dabiq, is a puzzle. The magazine is not, despite appearances, primarily designed for direct recruiting efforts or inciting violence against the West. In fact, the primary audiences of Dabiq are English-speaking second generation Muslims or converts, Western policymakers, and a third group of current or would-be members of ISIS who are not integrating with the organization itself. The third audience - those members who are failing to function within the organization - is strange to include in an English-language magazine. Why publish organizational weaknesses, in English? One possibility for this puzzle is that the fundamentalist hermeneutics of ISIS is reflected in their own media efforts. One of the assumptions that ISIS holds about their sacred texts is that each text carries a single meaning that reflects the author's original intent. There might be multiple applications of that intent, but each text can only have one intent, and therefore one meaning. Following this logic, a message meant for one person is unlikely to be of utility for another, and so this may be why ISIS exposes their weaknesses as part of the process of correcting their own members.

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The Pivot before the Pivot: U.S. Strategy to Preserve the Power Balance in Asia

Nina Silove

International Security, Spring 2016, Pages 45-88

Abstract:
American critics of the Barack Obama administration's 2011 "pivot to Asia" policy claim that, despite the lofty rhetoric, the United States has pursued an anemic strategy in Asia. Chinese critics of the pivot to Asia assert that it is a bellicose strategy aimed at containing China's rise. These two conflicting criticisms are addressed in a detailed historical narrative that traces the development and implementation of U.S. strategy, based on declassified documents, some of which have never before been made public, and extensive in-depth interviews with senior policymakers. Neither American nor Chinese critics of the pivot to Asia are correct. If this policy is properly dated and measured, the United States undertook a substantive military, diplomatic, and later economic reorientation toward Asia. That reorientation started in the mid-2000s, well before the pivot announcement. The aim of the reorientation was not to contain China's rise. Rather, the United States sought to manage China's growth through a blend of internal and external balancing combined with expanded engagement with China. These means were intended to work symbiotically to expand the combined power of the United States and its allies and partners in Asia, and to dissuade China from bidding for hegemony. The ultimate effect of the reorientation strategy - if successful - would be to preserve the existing power balance in the region, in which the United States has held the superior position.

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China in Africa: An Analysis of the Effect of Chinese Media Expansion on African Public Opinion

Catie Snow Bailard

International Journal of Press/Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 2006, Chinese officials revealed an extensive plan to increase the nation's soft power in Africa through a number of initiatives to increase the presence and relevance of Chinese media in Africa. However, the question remains: Has China been successful in enhancing its soft power via its news media expansion in the African region? Although it is easy to find sweeping proclamations regarding the popularity of Chinese media throughout Africa, there have been limited efforts to systematically measure the effect of these media on African public opinion toward China. This study seeks to fill this void. Using Pew Global Attitudes Project data, I explore correlations between attitudes toward China and the extent of the Chinese media presence across six African nations in 2013. In addition, to better test for a causal effect of the post-2006 expansion, I employ a second analysis in which I compare these relationships in 2007 with these same relationships in 2013. By comparing changes in these relationships over time, this analysis provides tentative empirical support that the sweeping efforts undertaken to expand the reach and relevance of Chinese media in Africa have moved African public opinion in the desired direction.

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Crimes Committed by U.S. Soldiers in Europe, 1945-1946

Thomas Kehoe & James Kehoe

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Summer 2016, Pages 53-84

Abstract:
Accounts from victims and observers, including new research in the U.S. National Archives and the Bavarian National Archives, suggest that American soldiers committed crimes against persons - especially rape and various forms of assault - and against property in Europe after World War II more often than statistics about charges and prosecutions at the time indicated. More importantly, previously unexamined statistical summaries of crimes committed by American troops, as recorded by the U.S. Provost Marshal, provide unprecedented quantitative information about these crimes in the European Theater of Operations (eto) during the first postwar year, May 1945 to June 1946. The absolute number of crimes decreased as the number of troops declined, but the rate of crime (number per 10,000 troops) increased during the same period.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Making partner

Family Inequality: Diverging Patterns in Marriage, Cohabitation, and Childbearing

Shelly Lundberg, Robert Pollak & Jenna Stearns

Journal of Economic Perspectives, Spring 2016, Pages 79-102

Abstract:
Popular discussions of changes in American families over the past 60 years have revolved around the "retreat from marriage." Concern has focused on increasing levels of nonmarital childbearing, as well as falling marriage rates that stem from both increases in the age at first marriage and greater marital instability. Often lost in these discussions is the fact that the decline of marriage has coincided with a rise in cohabitation. Many "single" Americans now live with a domestic partner and a substantial fraction of "single" mothers are cohabiting, often with the child's father. The share of women who have ever cohabited has nearly doubled over the past 25 years, and the majority of nonmarital births now occur to cohabiting rather than to unpartnered mothers at all levels of education. The emergence of cohabitation as an alternative to marriage has been a key feature of the post–World War II transformation of the American family. These changes in the patterns and trajectories of family structure have a strong socioeconomic gradient. The important divide is between college graduates and others: individuals who have attended college but do not have a four-year degree have family patterns and trajectories that are very similar to those of high school graduates.

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The Gendered Division of Housework and Couples' Sexual Relationships: A Reexamination

Daniel Carlson et al.

Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although contemporary couples increasingly express preferences for egalitarian unions, previous research has suggested that sexual intimacy decreases when routine housework is shared. Yet this research was conducted on data that are decades old. To update this work, the authors compared data from the 2006 Marital and Relationship Survey (MARS) and Wave 2 of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH2), collected in 1992–1994. The results indicated change in the association between housework arrangements and sexual intimacy across surveys. Although egalitarian arrangements were associated with lower sexual frequency compared to conventional arrangements in the NSFH2, no such difference was found in the MARS. In fact, reported sexual frequency increased across surveys among egalitarian couples only. In addition, how housework was arranged mattered more for sexual satisfaction among MARS couples than NSFH2 couples. These changes appear to result from the increasing role of perceived equity as a mechanism linking the division of housework to sex.

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Changing the Rules Midway: The Impact of Granting Alimony Rights on Existing and Newly-Formed Partnerships

Pierre-Andre Chiappori et al.

Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper analyses the effect of a reform granting alimony rights to cohabiting couples in Canada. A collective household model with a matching framework predicts that changes in alimony laws would affect existing couples and couples-to-be differently. For existing couples, it benefits the intended beneficiary but, for couples not yet formed, it generates offsetting intra-household transfers and lower intra-marital allocations for her. Our empirical analyses confirm these predictions. Among couples united before the reform, obtaining the right to petition for alimony led women to lower their labor force participation but not among newly formed cohabiting couples.

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"Why Not Settle Down Already?" A Quantitative Analysis of the Delay in Marriage

Cezar Santos & David Weiss

International Economic Review, May 2016, Pages 425–452

Abstract:
A striking change in American society in the last 40 years has been the decline and delay in marriage. The fraction of young adults who have never been married increased significantly between 1970 and 2000. Idiosyncratic labor income volatility also rose. We establish a quantitatively important link between these facts. If marriage involves consumption commitments, then a rise in income volatility delays marriage. We quantitatively assess this hypothesis vis-à-vis others in the literature. Increased volatility accounts for about 20% of the observed delay in marriage and is strong relative to other mechanisms.

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Is It All About Money? Work Characteristics and Women’s and Men’s Marriage Formation in Early Adulthood

Janet Chen-Lan Kuo & Kelly Raley

Journal of Family Issues, June 2016, Pages 1046-1073

Abstract:
Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 97, this article investigates how work characteristics (earnings and autonomy) shape young adults’ transition to first marriage separately for men and women. The results suggest that earnings are positively associated with marriage and that this association is as strong for women as men in their mid to late 20s. Additionally, occupational autonomy — having the control over one’s own work structure — facilitates entry into first marriage for women in their mid to late 20s but, for men, occupational autonomy is not associated with marriage at these ages. These results suggest that even as women’s earnings are increasingly important for marriage, other aspects of work are also important for stable family formation.

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In the Eye of the Betrothed: Perceptual Downgrading of Attractive Alternative Romantic Partners

Shana Cole, Yaacov Trope & Emily Balcetis

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
People in monogamous relationships can experience a conflict when they interact with an attractive individual. They may have a desire to romantically pursue the new person, while wanting to be faithful to their partner. How do people manage the threat that attractive alternatives present to their relationship goals? We suggest that one way people defend their relationships against attractive individuals is by perceiving the individual as less attractive. In two studies, using a novel visual matching paradigm, we found support for a perceptual downgrading effect. People in relationships perceived threatening attractive individuals as less attractive than did single participants. The effect was exacerbated among participants who were highly satisfied with their current relationships. The studies provide evidence for a perceptual bias that emerges to protect long-term goals. We discuss the findings within the context of a broader theory of motivated perception in the service of self-control.

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Is Your Spouse More Likely to Divorce You if You Are the Older Partner?

Paula England, Paul Allison & Liana Sayer

Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
The authors assessed how the relative age of spouses affects whether men or women initiate a divorce, using data from the National Survey of Families and Households. Ex-spouses' reports of who left generally agreed, but not always, so the analysis used a latent class model embedded in an event-history model with competing risks that the woman leaves the man or the man leaves the woman. Support was not found for the hypothesis that age heterogamy itself increases the odds of divorce: Even large age differences did not make men more likely to leave younger wives, and women's exits were as likely when the marriage is homogamous as when she was older. The main conclusion is that both men and women are more likely to leave if their spouse is older than they are. The effects were stronger for men, but the gender difference in effect size was not statistically significant.

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Interjurisdictional competition and the Married Women’s Property Acts

Jayme Lemke

Public Choice, March 2016, Pages 291-313

Abstract:
Married women in the early nineteenth century United States were not permitted to own property, enter into contracts without their husband’s permission, or stand in court as independent persons. This severely limited married women’s ability to engage in formal business ventures, collect rents, administer estates, and manage bequests through wills. By the dawn of the twentieth century, legal reform in nearly every state had removed these restrictions by extending formal legal and economic rights to married women. Legal reform being by nature a public good with dispersed benefits, what forces impelled legislators to undertake the costs of action? In this paper, I argue that interjurisdictional competition between states and territories in the nineteenth century was instrumental in motivating these reforms. Two conditions are necessary for interjurisdictional competition to function: (1) law-makers must hold a vested interest in attracting population to their jurisdictions, and (2) residents must be able to actively choose between the products of different jurisdictions. Using evidence from the passage of the Married Women’s Property Acts, I find that legal reforms were adopted first and in the greatest strength in those regions in which there was active interjurisdictional competition.

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Not in the mood? Men under- (not over-) perceive their partner’s sexual desire in established intimate relationships

Amy Muise et al.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, May 2016, Pages 725-742

Abstract:
Men’s sexual overperception bias — where men tend to perceive greater sexual interest in women’s behavior than actually exists — is a well-documented finding in previous research. All of the existing research, however, has tested this effect in the context of initial encounters or for fictitious or unknown targets. No research currently exists on how people perceive their romantic partner’s sexual desire in the context of ongoing, intimate relationships. In 3 dyadic studies, we provide evidence that men in established romantic relationships err in the direction of the opposite bias and underperceive their romantic partner’s sexual desire. We also demonstrate that this underperception bias is functional (particularly for men) in that it is associated with their partner feeling more satisfied and committed to the relationship. In addition, people are particularly likely to underperceive their partner’s desire on days when they are motivated to avoid sexual rejection, and men’s underperception bias is, in part, accounted for by men’s higher general levels of sexual desire than women. The current studies extend previous findings on sexual perceptual biases and demonstrate the important role of context in men’s judgments of a partner’s sexual interest.

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Women's red clothing can increase mate-guarding from their male partner

Pavol Prokop & Adam Pazda

Personality and Individual Differences, August 2016, Pages 114–117

Abstract:
Mate guarding is a common strategy that functions to prevent individuals from engaging in extra-pair copulations. For women, wearing red clothing can be perceived by men as a signal of sexual receptivity. Thus, men may guard their mate more strongly when she is wearing red, relative to other colors. We tested this hypothesis by examining the intensity of anticipated mate-guarding behaviors in conditions where women were imagined (by their partner and themselves) to wear red or black clothing in a repeated-measures design. Results showed stronger anticipated mate-guarding behaviors from men when they imagined their partner in red, relative to black. Women were unable to predict the intensity of mate-guarding from their partner with respect to color condition. Partner satisfaction did not moderate these findings in either sex.

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Hormonal contraceptives suppress oxytocin-induced brain reward responses to the partner’s face

Dirk Scheele et al.

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, May 2016, Pages 767-774

Abstract:
The hypothalamic peptide oxytocin (OXT) has been identified as a key modulator of pair-bonding in men, but its effects in women are still elusive. Moreover, there is substantial evidence that hormonal contraception (HC) influences partner preferences and sexual satisfaction, which constitute core domains of OXT function. We thus hypothesized that OXT effects on partner-related behavioral and neural responses could be significantly altered in women using HC. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging study involving 40 pair-bonded women, 21 of whom were using HC, we investigated whether a 24-IU nasal dose of OXT would modulate brain reward responses evoked by the romantic partner’s face relative to the faces of familiar and unfamiliar people. Treatment with OXT increased the perceived attractiveness of the partner relative to other men, which was paralleled by elevated responses in reward-associated regions, including the nucleus accumbens. These effects of OXT were absent in women using HC. Our results confirm and extend previous findings in men that OXT interacts with the brain reward system to reinforce partner value representations, indicating a common OXT-dependent mechanism underlying partner attraction in both sexes. This mechanism may be disturbed in women using HC, suggesting that gonadal steroids could alter partner-specific OXT effects.

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Marriage, Markets, and Money: A Coasian Theory of Household Formation

Kenneth Burdett et al.

International Economic Review, May 2016, Pages 337–368

Abstract:
This article integrates search-based models of marriage and money. We think about households as organizations, the way Coase thinks about firms, as alternatives to markets that become more attractive when transactions costs increase. In the model, individuals consume market- and home-produced goods, and home production is facilitated by marriage. Market frictions, including taxes, search, and bargaining problems, increase the marriage propensity. The inflation tax encourages marriage because being single is cash intensive. Microdata confirm singles use cash more than married people. We use macrodata over many countries to investigate how marriage responds to inflation, taxation, and other variables.

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Life Insurance Holdings and Well-Being of Surviving Spouses

Timothy Harris & Aaron Yelowitz

University of Kentucky Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
Premature death of a breadwinner can have devastating financial consequences on surviving dependents. This study investigates the role of life insurance in mitigating the long-run financial consequences of spousal mortality. Using the Health and Retirement Study, we examine individuals whose spouses died during or soon after his or her peak earnings years. Using an instrumental variables approach, we find that lump-sum life insurance payouts do not significantly influence spousal well-being.

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Altruism, Cooperation, and Efficiency: Agricultural Production in Polygynous Households

Richard Akresh, Joyce Chen & Charity Moore

Economic Development and Cultural Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Altruism toward others can inhibit cooperation by increasing the utility players expect to receive in a noncooperative equilibrium. To test this, we examine agricultural productivity in West African polygynous households. We find cooperation, as evidenced by more efficient production, is greater among co-wives than among husbands and wives. Using a game-theoretic model, we show that this outcome can arise because co-wives are less altruistic toward each other than toward their husbands. We present a variety of robustness checks, which suggest results are not driven by selection into polygyny, greater propensity for cooperation among women, or household heads enforcing others’ cooperative agreements.

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The Forecast Model of Relationship Commitment

Edward Lemay

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Four studies tested the forecast model of relationship commitment, which posits that forecasts of future relationship satisfaction determine relationship commitment and prorelationship behavior in romantic relationships independently of other known predictors and partially explain the effects of these other predictors. This model was supported in 2 cross-sectional studies, a daily report study, and a study using behavioral observation, informant, and longitudinal methods. Across these studies, forecasts of future relationship satisfaction predicted relationship commitment and prorelationship behavior during relationship conflict and partially explained the effects of relationship satisfaction, quality of alternatives, and investment size. These results suggest that representations of the future have a prominent role in interpersonal processes.

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Seeking Connection Versus Avoiding Disappointment: An Experimental Manipulation of Approach and Avoidance Sexual Goals and the Implications for Desire and Satisfaction

Amy Muise, Gillian Boudreau & Natalie Rosen

Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous correlational research has demonstrated an association between people’s reasons for having sex (i.e., their sexual goals) and their sexual desire and sexual and relationship satisfaction. Across two studies of people in romantic relationships (N = 396) we extend previous research and demonstrate, for the first time, that manipulating the salience of approach sexual goals (i.e., engaging in sex to pursue positive outcomes, such as enhanced intimacy) compared to avoidance sexual goals (i.e., engaging in sex to avert negative outcomes, such as a partner’s disappointment) or a control condition leads people to feel higher sexual desire for their romantic partners and to report higher sexual and relationship satisfaction. In addition, in Study 2 we demonstrate that focusing on approach sexual goals over the course of a week leads people to report more satisfying sexual experiences during that week, as well as higher desire and overall relationship satisfaction, compared to a control group. The current findings advance approach–avoidance theory by providing evidence that it is possible to manipulate people’s sexual goals and, in turn, impact their feelings of desire and satisfaction. Results are promising for the development of interventions to promote sexual and relational well-being.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

In the extreme

The Fiscal Cost of Hurricanes: Disaster Aid Versus Social Insurance

Tatyana Deryugina

NBER Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
Little is known about the fiscal costs of natural disasters, especially regarding social safety nets that do not specifically target extreme weather events. This paper shows that US hurricanes lead to substantial increases in non-disaster government transfers, such as unemployment insurance and public medical payments, in affected counties in the decade after a hurricane. The present value of this increase significantly exceeds that of direct disaster aid. This implies, among other things, that the fiscal costs of natural disasters have been significantly underestimated and that victims in developed countries are better insured against them than previously thought.

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Motivated Recall in the Service of the Economic System: The Case of Anthropogenic Climate Change

Erin Hennes et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, June 2016, Pages 755-771

Abstract:
The contemporary political landscape is characterized by numerous divisive issues. Unlike many other issues, however, much of the disagreement about climate change centers not on how best to take action to address the problem, but on whether the problem exists at all. Psychological studies indicate that, to the extent that sustainability initiatives are seen as threatening to the socioeconomic system, individuals may downplay environmental problems in order to defend and protect the status quo. In the current research, participants were presented with scientific information about climate change and later asked to recall details of what they had learned. Individuals who were experimentally induced (Study 1) or dispositionally inclined (Studies 2 and 3) to justify the economic system misremembered the evidence to be less serious, and this was associated with increased skepticism. However, when high system justifiers were led to believe that the economy was in a recovery, they recalled climate change information to be more serious than did those assigned to a control condition. When low system justifiers were led to believe that the economy was in recession, they recalled the information to be less serious (Study 3). These findings suggest that because system justification can impact information processing, simply providing the public with scientific evidence may be insufficient to inspire action to mitigate climate change. However, linking environmental information to statements about the strength of the economic system may satiate system justification needs and break the psychological link between proenvironmental initiatives and economic risk.

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Shutting Down the Thermohaline Circulation

David Anthoff, Francisco Estrada & Richard Tol

American Economic Review, May 2016, Pages 602-606

Abstract:
Past climatic changes were caused by a slowdown of the thermohaline circulation. We use results from experiments with three climate models to show that the expected cooling due to a slowdown of the thermohaline circulation is less in magnitude than the expected warming due to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. The integrated assessment model FUND and a meta-analysis of climate impacts are used to evaluate the change in human welfare. We find modest but by and large positive effects on human welfare since a slowdown of the thermohaline circulation implies decelerated warming.

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Economic Effects of an Ocean Acidification Catastrophe

Stephen Colt & Gunnar Knapp

American Economic Review, May 2016, Pages 615-619

Abstract:
We assess the potential magnitude of the economic effects of an ocean acidification (OA) catastrophe by focusing on marine ecosystem services most likely to be affected. It is scientifically plausible that by 2200 OA could cause a complete collapse of marine capture fisheries, complete destruction of coral reefs, and significant rearrangement of marine ecosystems. Upper-bound values for losses from the first two effects range from 97 to 301 billion 2014 dollars per year (0.09 - 0.28% of current world GDP). We argue that aquaculture output would not be reduced, due to the high potential for adaptation by this young industry.

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Tracking global carbon revenues: A survey of carbon taxes versus cap-and-trade in the real world

Jeremy Carl & David Fedor

Energy Policy, September 2016, Pages 50–77

Abstract:
We investigate the current use of public revenues which are generated through both carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems. More than $28.3 billion in government “carbon revenues” are currently collected each year in 40 countries and another 16 states or provinces around the world. Of those revenues, 27% ($7.8 billion) are used to subsidize “green” spending in energy efficiency or renewable energy; 26% ($7.4 billion) go toward state general funds; and 36% ($10.1 billion) are returned to corporate or individual taxpayers through paired tax cuts or direct rebates. Cap-and-trade systems ($6.57 billion in total public revenue) earmark a larger share of revenues for “green” spending (70%), while carbon tax systems ($21.7 billion) more commonly refund revenues or otherwise direct them towards government general funds (72% of revenues). Drawing from an empirical dataset, we also identify various trends in systems’ use of “carbon revenues” in terms of the total revenues collected annually per capita in each jurisdiction and offer commensurate qualitative observations on carbon policy design choices.

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Greening of the Earth and its drivers

Zaichun Zhu et al.

Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Global environmental change is rapidly altering the dynamics of terrestrial vegetation, with consequences for the functioning of the Earth system and provision of ecosystem services. Yet how global vegetation is responding to the changing environment is not well established. Here we use three long-term satellite leaf area index (LAI) records and ten global ecosystem models to investigate four key drivers of LAI trends during 1982–2009. We show a persistent and widespread increase of growing season integrated LAI (greening) over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated area, whereas less than 4% of the globe shows decreasing LAI (browning). Factorial simulations with multiple global ecosystem models suggest that CO2 fertilization effects explain 70% of the observed greening trend, followed by nitrogen deposition (9%), climate change (8%) and land cover change (LCC) (4%). CO2 fertilization effects explain most of the greening trends in the tropics, whereas climate change resulted in greening of the high latitudes and the Tibetan Plateau. LCC contributed most to the regional greening observed in southeast China and the eastern United States. The regional effects of unexplained factors suggest that the next generation of ecosystem models will need to explore the impacts of forest demography, differences in regional management intensities for cropland and pastures, and other emerging productivity constraints such as phosphorus availability.

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Price Regulation and Environmental Externalities: Evidence from Methane Leaks

Catherine Hausman & Lucija Muehlenbachs

NBER Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
Price regulations are widely used to reduce inefficiencies from natural monopolies, but they can introduce other inefficiencies, such as the failure to cost-minimize. We examine a previously unstudied distortion in the natural gas distribution sector that allows firms to pass the cost of lost gas on to their customers. We show that firms abate leaks below what is theoretically optimal for a private firm – expenditure on abatement is well below the cost of lost gas. Additionally, natural gas, primarily composed of methane, is both explosive and a potent greenhouse gas. Thus the climate impacts of leaked methane greatly exacerbate the inefficiencies created by imperfect price regulation.

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Global trends in wildfire and its impacts: Perceptions versus realities in a changing world

Stefan Doerr & Cristina Santín

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 5 June 2016

Abstract:
Wildfire has been an important process affecting the Earth's surface and atmosphere for over 350 million years and human societies have coexisted with fire since their emergence. Yet many consider wildfire as an accelerating problem, with widely held perceptions both in the media and scientific papers of increasing fire occurrence, severity and resulting losses. However, important exceptions aside, the quantitative evidence available does not support these perceived overall trends. Instead, global area burned appears to have overall declined over past decades, and there is increasing evidence that there is less fire in the global landscape today than centuries ago. Regarding fire severity, limited data are available. For the western USA, they indicate little change overall, and also that area burned at high severity has overall declined compared to pre-European settlement. Direct fatalities from fire and economic losses also show no clear trends over the past three decades. Trends in indirect impacts, such as health problems from smoke or disruption to social functioning, remain insufficiently quantified to be examined. Global predictions for increased fire under a warming climate highlight the already urgent need for a more sustainable coexistence with fire. The data evaluation presented here aims to contribute to this by reducing misconceptions and facilitating a more informed understanding of the realities of global fire.

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Electric utilities and American climate policy: Lobbying by expected winners and losers

Sung Eun Kim, Johannes Urpelainen & Joonseok Yang

Journal of Public Policy, June 2016, Pages 251-275

Abstract:
When and why do individual companies lobby on environmental policies? Given the structural strength of business interests, the answer to this question is important for explaining policy. However, evidence on the strategic lobbying behaviour of individual companies remains scarce. We use data from lobbying disclosure reports on all major climate bills introduced during the 111th Congress (2009–2010). We then link the lobbying disclosure reports to detailed data on the fuel choices of all electric utilities in the United States along with socioeconomic, institutional and political data from the states where the utilities operate. The expected winners (renewable energy, natural gas users) from climate policy are much more likely to lobby individually on federal legislation than the expected losers (coal users). We find that expected winners lobby for specific provisions and rents as a private good, whereas expected losers concentrate their efforts on collective action through trade associations and committees to prevent climate legislation. The results suggest that the supporters of climate policy believed the probability of federal climate legislation to be nontrivial.

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Poorest countries experience earlier anthropogenic emergence of daily temperature extremes

Luke Harrington et al.

Environmental Research Letters, May 2016

Abstract:
Understanding how the emergence of the anthropogenic warming signal from the noise of internal variability translates to changes in extreme event occurrence is of crucial societal importance. By utilising simulations of cumulative carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and temperature changes from eleven earth system models, we demonstrate that the inherently lower internal variability found at tropical latitudes results in large increases in the frequency of extreme daily temperatures (exceedances of the 99.9th percentile derived from pre-industrial climate simulations) occurring much earlier than for mid-to-high latitude regions. Most of the world's poorest people live at low latitudes, when considering 2010 GDP-PPP per capita; conversely the wealthiest population quintile disproportionately inhabit more variable mid-latitude climates. Consequently, the fraction of the global population in the lowest socio-economic quintile is exposed to substantially more frequent daily temperature extremes after much lower increases in both mean global warming and cumulative CO2 emissions.

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Disruption of the European climate seasonal clock in a warming world

Christophe Cassou & Julien Cattiaux

Nature Climate Change, June 2016, Pages 589–594

Abstract:
Temperatures over Europe are largely driven by the strength and inland penetration of the oceanic westerly flow. The wind influence depends on season: blocked westerlies, linked to high-pressure anomalies over Scandinavia, induce cold episodes in winter but warm conditions in summer. Here, we propose to define the onset of the two seasons as the calendar day on which the daily circulation/temperature relationship switches sign. We have assessed this meteorologically based metric using several observational data sets and we provide evidence for an earlier onset of the summer date by ~10 days between the 1960s and 2000s. Results from a climate model show that internal variability alone cannot explain this calendar advance. Rather, the earlier onset can be partly attributed to anthropogenic forcings. The modification of the zonal advection due to earlier disappearance of winter snow over Eastern Europe, which reduces the degree to which climate has continental properties, is mainly responsible for the present-day and near-future advance of the summer date in Western Europe. Our findings are in line with phenological-based trends (earlier spring events) reported for many living species over Europe for which we provide an alternative interpretation to the traditionally evoked local warming effect. Based on the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario, which assumes that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise throughout the twenty-first century, a summer advance of ~20 days compared with pre-industrial climate is expected by 2100, whereas no clear signal arises for winter onset.

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Will economic growth and fossil fuel scarcity help or hinder climate stabilization? Overview of the RoSE multi-model study

Elmar Kriegler et al.

Climatic Change, May 2016, Pages 7-22

Abstract:
We investigate the extent to which future energy transformation pathways meeting ambitious climate change mitigation targets depend on assumptions about economic growth and fossil fuel availability. The analysis synthesizes results from the RoSE multi-model study aiming to identify robust and sensitive features of mitigation pathways under these inherently uncertain drivers of energy and emissions developments. Based on an integrated assessment model comparison exercise, we show that economic growth and fossil resource assumptions substantially affect baseline developments, but in no case they lead to the significant greenhouse gas emission reduction that would be needed to achieve long-term climate targets without dedicated climate policy. The influence of economic growth and fossil resource assumptions on climate mitigation pathways is relatively small due to overriding requirements imposed by long-term climate targets. While baseline assumptions can have substantial effects on mitigation costs and carbon prices, we find that the effects of model differences and the stringency of the climate target are larger compared to that of baseline assumptions. We conclude that inherent uncertainties about socio-economic determinants like economic growth and fossil resource availability can be effectively dealt with in the assessment of mitigation pathways.

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Has Arctic Sea Ice Loss Contributed to Increased Surface Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet?

Jiping Liu et al.

Journal of Climate, May 2016, Pages 3373–3386

Abstract:
In recent decades, the Greenland ice sheet has experienced increased surface melt. However, the underlying cause of this increased surface melting and how it relates to cryospheric changes across the Arctic remain unclear. Here it is shown that an important contributing factor is the decreasing Arctic sea ice. Reduced summer sea ice favors stronger and more frequent occurrences of blocking-high pressure events over Greenland. Blocking highs enhance the transport of warm, moist air over Greenland, which increases downwelling infrared radiation, contributes to increased extreme heat events, and accounts for the majority of the observed warming trends. These findings are supported by analyses of observations and reanalysis data, as well as by independent atmospheric model simulations using a state-of-the-art atmospheric model that is forced by varying only the sea ice conditions. Reduced sea ice conditions in the model favor more extensive Greenland surface melting. The authors find a positive feedback between the variability in the extent of summer Arctic sea ice and melt area of the summer Greenland ice sheet, which affects the Greenland ice sheet mass balance. This linkage may improve the projections of changes in the global sea level and thermohaline circulation.

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Future cost-competitive electricity systems and their impact on US CO2 emissions

Alexander MacDonald et al.

Nature Climate Change, May 2016, Pages 526–531

Abstract:
Carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation are a major cause of anthropogenic climate change. The deployment of wind and solar power reduces these emissions, but is subject to the variability of the weather. In the present study, we calculate the cost-optimized configuration of variable electrical power generators using weather data with high spatial (13-km) and temporal (60-min) resolution over the contiguous US. Our results show that when using future anticipated costs for wind and solar, carbon dioxide emissions from the US electricity sector can be reduced by up to 80% relative to 1990 levels, without an increase in the levelized cost of electricity. The reductions are possible with current technologies and without electrical storage. Wind and solar power increase their share of electricity production as the system grows to encompass large-scale weather patterns. This reduction in carbon emissions is achieved by moving away from a regionally divided electricity sector to a national system enabled by high-voltage direct-current transmission.

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Climatic thresholds shape northern high-latitude fire regimes and imply vulnerability to future climate change

Adam Young et al.

Ecography, forthcoming

Abstract:
Boreal forests and arctic tundra cover 33% of global land surface and store an estimated 50% of total soil carbon. Because wildfire is a key driver of terrestrial carbon cycling, increasing fire activity in these ecosystems would likely have global implications. To anticipate potential spatiotemporal variability in fire-regime shifts, we modeled the spatially explicit 30-yr probability of fire occurrence as a function of climate and landscape features (i.e., vegetation and topography) across Alaska. Boosted regression tree (BRT) models captured the spatial distribution of fire across boreal forest and tundra ecoregions (AUC from 0.63-0.78 and Pearson correlations between predicted and observed data from 0.54-0.71), highlighting summer temperature and annual moisture availability as the most influential controls of historical fire regimes. Modeled fire-climate relationships revealed distinct thresholds to fire occurrence, with a nonlinear increase in the probability of fire above an average July temperature of 13.4 °C and below an annual moisture availability (i.e., P-PET) of approximately 150 mm. To anticipate potential fire-regime responses to 21st-century climate change, we informed our BRTs with Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 climate projections under the RCP 6.0 scenario. Based on these projected climatic changes alone (i.e., not accounting for potential changes in vegetation), our results suggest an increasing probability of wildfire in Alaskan boreal forest and tundra ecosystems, but of varying magnitude across space and throughout the 21st century. Regions with historically low flammability, including tundra and the forest-tundra boundary, are particularly vulnerable to climatically induced changes in fire activity, with up to a fourfold increase in the 30-yr probability of fire occurrence by 2100. Our results underscore the climatic potential for novel fire regimes to develop in these ecosystems, relative to the past 6,000-35,000 years, and spatial variability in the vulnerability of wildfire regimes and associated ecological processes to 21st-century climate change.

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Federal Coal Program Reform, the Clean Power Plan, and the Interaction of Upstream and Downstream Climate Policies

Todd Gerarden, Spencer Reeder & James Stock

NBER Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
Coal mined on federally managed lands accounts for approximately 40% of U.S. coal consumption and 13% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions. The U.S. Department of the Interior is undertaking a programmatic review of federal coal leasing, including the climate effects of burning federal coal. This paper studies the interaction between a specific upstream policy, incorporating a carbon adder into federal coal royalties, and downstream emissions regulation under the Clean Power Plan (CPP). After providing some comparative statics, we present quantitative results from a detailed dynamic model of the power sector, the Integrated Planning Model (IPM). The IPM analysis indicates that, in the absence of the CPP, a royalty adder equal to the social cost of carbon could reduce emissions by roughly 3/4 of the emissions reduction that the CPP is projected to achieve. If instead the CPP is binding, the royalty adder would: reduce the price of tradeable emissions allowances, produce some additional emissions reductions by reducing leakage, and reduce wholesale power prices under a mass-based CPP but increase them under a rate-based CPP. A federal royalty adder increases mining of non-federal coal, but this substitution is limited by a shift to electricity generation by gas and renewables.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Offense and defense

Making it moral: Merely labeling an attitude as moral increases its strength

Andrew Luttrell et al.

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, July 2016, Pages 82-93

Abstract:
Prior research has shown that self-reported moral bases of people's attitudes predict a range of important consequences, including attitude-relevant behavior and resistance in the face of social influence. Although previous studies typically rely on self-report measures of such bases, the present research tests the possibility that people can be induced to view their own attitudes as grounded in moral bases. This perception alone leads to outcomes associated with strong attitudes. In three experiments, participants were led to view their attitudes as grounded in moral or non-moral bases. Merely perceiving a moral (vs. non-moral) basis to one's attitudes led them to show greater correspondence with relevant behavioral intentions (Experiment 1) and become less susceptible to change following a persuasive message (Experiments 2 and 3). Moreover, these effects were independent of any other established indicators of attitude strength.

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Memories of unethical actions become obfuscated over time

Maryam Kouchaki & Francesca Gino

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 31 May 2016, Pages 6166-6171

Abstract:
Despite our optimistic belief that we would behave honestly when facing the temptation to act unethically, we often cross ethical boundaries. This paper explores one possibility of why people engage in unethical behavior over time by suggesting that their memory for their past unethical actions is impaired. We propose that, after engaging in unethical behavior, individuals' memories of their actions become more obfuscated over time because of the psychological distress and discomfort such misdeeds cause. In nine studies (n = 2,109), we show that engaging in unethical behavior produces changes in memory so that memories of unethical actions gradually become less clear and vivid than memories of ethical actions or other types of actions that are either positive or negative in valence. We term this memory obfuscation of one's unethical acts over time "unethical amnesia." Because of unethical amnesia, people are more likely to act dishonestly repeatedly over time.

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Evidence for Absolute Moral Opposition to Genetically Modified Food in the United States

Sydney Scott, Yoel Inbar & Paul Rozin

Perspectives on Psychological Science, May 2016, Pages 315-324

Abstract:
Public opposition to genetic modification (GM) technology in the food domain is widespread (Frewer et al., 2013). In a survey of U.S. residents representative of the population on gender, age, and income, 64% opposed GM, and 71% of GM opponents (45% of the entire sample) were "absolutely" opposed - that is, they agreed that GM should be prohibited no matter the risks and benefits. "Absolutist" opponents were more disgust sensitive in general and more disgusted by the consumption of genetically modified food than were non-absolutist opponents or supporters. Furthermore, disgust predicted support for legal restrictions on genetically modified foods, even after controlling for explicit risk-benefit assessments. This research suggests that many opponents are evidence insensitive and will not be influenced by arguments about risks and benefits.

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Caught Red-Minded: Evidence-Induced Denial of Mental Transgressions

Bethany Burum, Daniel Gilbert & Timothy Wilson

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
We suggest that when confronted with evidence of their socially inappropriate thoughts and feelings, people are sometimes less likely - and not more likely - to acknowledge them because evidence can elicit psychological responses that inhibit candid self-reflection. In 3 studies, participants were induced to exhibit racial bias (Study 1) or to experience inappropriate sexual arousal (Studies 2 and 3). Some participants were then told that the researcher had collected physiological evidence of these mental transgressions. Results showed that participants who were told about the evidence were less willing to acknowledge their mental transgressions, but only if they were told before they had an opportunity to engage in self-reflection. These results suggest that under some circumstances, confronting people with public evidence of their private shortcomings can be counterproductive.

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Foreign language affects the contribution of intentions and outcomes to moral judgment

Janet Geipel, Constantinos Hadjichristidis & Luca Surian

Cognition, September 2016, Pages 34-39

Abstract:
We examine whether the use of a foreign language, as opposed to the native language, influences the relative weight intentions versus outcomes carry in moral evaluations. In Study 1, participants were presented with actions that had positive outcomes but were motivated by dubious intentions, while in Study 2 with actions that had negative outcomes but were motivated by positive intentions. Participants received the materials either in their native or a foreign language. Foreign language prompted more positive moral evaluations in Study 1 and less positive evaluations in Study 2. These results show that foreign language reduces the relative weight placed on intentions versus outcomes. We discuss several theoretical accounts that are consistent with the results such as that foreign language attenuates emotions (triggered by intentions) or it depletes cognitive resources.

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A Moist Crevice for Word Aversion: In Semantics Not Sounds

Paul Thibodeau

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Abstract:
Why do people self-report an aversion to words like "moist"? The present studies represent an initial scientific exploration into the phenomenon of word aversion by investigating its prevalence and cause. Results of five experiments indicate that about 10-20% of the population is averse to the word "moist." This population often speculates that phonological properties of the word are the cause of their displeasure. However, data from the current studies point to semantic features of the word - namely, associations with disgusting bodily functions - as a more prominent source of peoples' unpleasant experience. "Moist," for averse participants, was notable for its valence and personal use, rather than imagery or arousal - a finding that was confirmed by an experiment designed to induce an aversion to the word. Analyses of individual difference measures suggest that word aversion is more prevalent among younger, more educated, and more neurotic people, and is more commonly reported by females than males.

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The Valjean Effect: Visceral States and Cheating

Elanor Williams et al.

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Visceral states like thirst, hunger, and fatigue can alter motivations, predictions, and even memory. Across 3 studies, we demonstrate that such "hot" states can also shift moral standards and increase dishonest behavior. Compared to participants who had just eaten or who had not yet exercised, hungry and thirsty participants were more likely to behave dishonestly to win a prize. Consistent with the specificity of motivation that is characteristic of visceral states, participants were only more likely to cheat for a prize that could alleviate their current deprived state (such as a bottle of water). Interestingly, this increase in dishonest behavior did not seem to be driven by an increase in the perceived monetary value of the prize.

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Careful Cheating: People Cheat Groups Rather than Individuals

Amitai Amir, Tehila Kogut & Yoella Bereby-Meyer

Frontiers in Psychology, March 2016

Abstract:
Cheating for material gain is a destructive phenomenon in any society. We examine the extent to which people care about the victims of their unethical behavior - be they a group of people or an individual - and whether they are sensitive to the degree of harm or cost that they cause to these victims. The results of three studies suggest that when a group (rather than a single individual) is the victim of one's behavior, the incidence of cheating increases only if the harm to the group is presented in global terms - such that the cheating might be justified by the relatively minor harm caused to each individual in the group (Studies #1 and #3). However, when the harm or cost to each individual in the group is made explicit, the tendency to cheat the group is no longer apparent and the tendency to cheat increases when the harm caused is minor - regardless of whether the victim is an individual or a group of people (Study #2). Individual differences in rational and intuitive thinking appear to play different roles in the decision to cheat different type of opponents: individual opponents seem to trigger the subject's intuitive thinking which restrains the urge to cheat, whereas groups of opponents seem to trigger the subject's rational mode of thinking which encourage cheating.

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Effects of Culture and Gender on Judgments of Intent and Responsibility

Jason Plaks et al.

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Abstract:
Do different cultures hold different views of intentionality? In four studies, participants read scenarios in which the actor's distal intent (a focus on a broader goal) and proximal intent (a focus on the mechanics of the act) were manipulated. In Studies 1-2, when distal intent was more prominent in the actor's mind, North Americans rated the actor more responsible than did Chinese and South Asian participants. When proximal intent was more prominent, Chinese and South Asian participants, if anything, rated the actor more responsible. In Studies 3-4, when distal intent was more prominent, male Americans rated the actor more responsible than did female Americans. When proximal intent was more prominent, females rated the actor more responsible. The authors discuss these findings in relation to the literatures on moral reasoning and cultural psychology.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, June 6, 2016

Following the money

Clouded Judgment: The Role of Sentiment in Credit Origination

Kristle Cortés, Ran Duchin & Denis Sosyura

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using daily fluctuations in local sunshine as an instrument for sentiment, we study its effect on day-to-day decisions of lower-level financial officers. Positive sentiment is associated with higher credit approvals, and negative sentiment has the opposite effect of a larger magnitude. These effects are stronger when financial decisions require more discretion, when reviews are less automated, and when capital constraints are less binding. The variation in approval rates affects ex post financial performance and produces significant real effects. Our analysis of the economic channels suggests that sentiment influences managers' risk tolerance and subjective judgment.

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How Do Bank Regulators Determine Capital-Adequacy Requirements?

Eric Posner

University of Chicago Law Review, Fall 2015, Pages 1853-1895

Abstract:
Regulators require banks to maintain capital above a certain level in order to correct the incentives to make excessively risky loans. However, it has never been clear how regulators determine how high or low the minimum capital–asset ratio should be. An examination of US regulators’ justifications for five regulations issued over more than thirty years reveals that regulators have never performed a serious economic analysis that would justify the levels that they have chosen. Instead, regulators appear to have followed a practice of incremental change designed to weed out a handful of outlier banks. This approach resulted in significant regulatory failures leading up to the financial crisis of 2007–2008.

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Metropolitan area home prices and the mortgage interest deduction: Estimates and simulations from policy change

Hal Martin & Andrew Hanson

Regional Science and Urban Economics, July 2016, Pages 12–23

Abstract:
We simulate changes to metropolitan area home prices from reforming the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID). Price simulations are based on an extended user cost model that incorporates two dimensions of behavioral change in home buyers: sensitivity of borrowing and the propensity to use tax deductions. We simulate prices with both inelastic and elastic supply. Our results show a wide range of price effects across metropolitan areas and prospective policies. Considering behavioral change and no supply elasticity, eliminating the MID results in average home price declines as steep as 13.5% in Washington, D.C., and as small as 3.5% in Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL. Converting the MID to a 15 percent refundable credit reduces prices by as much as 1.4% in San Jose, CA, San Francisco, CA, and Washington, D.C. and increases average price in other metropolitan areas by as much as 12.1% (Miami-Fort Lauderdale). Accounting for market elasticities produces price estimates that are on average 36% as large as standard estimates.

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The Phillips Curve: Back to the '60s?

Olivier Blanchard

American Economic Review, May 2016, Pages 31-34

Abstract:
This paper reexamines the behavior of inflation and unemployment and reaches four conclusions: 1) The U.S. Phillips curve is alive and well (at least as well as in the past). 2) Inflation expectations however have become steadily more anchored. 3) The slope of the curve has substantially declined. But the decline dates back to the 1980s rather than to the crisis. 4) The standard error of the residual in the relation is large, especially in comparison to the low level of inflation. Each of the four conclusions presents challenges for the conduct of monetary policy.

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Weather-Adjusting Economic Data

Michael Boldin & Jonathan Wright

Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Fall 2015, Pages 227-278

Abstract:
This paper proposes and implements a statistical methodology for adjusting employment data for the effects of deviations in weather from seasonal norms. This is distinct from seasonal adjustment, which controls only for the normal variation in weather across the year. We simultaneously control for both of these effects by integrating a weather adjustment step in the seasonal adjustment process. We use several indicators of weather, including temperature and snowfall. We find that weather effects can be important, shifting the monthly payroll change number by more than 100,000 in either direction. The effects are largest in the winter and early spring months and in the construction sector. A similar methodology is constructed and applied to data in the national income and product accounts (NIPA), although the manner in which NIPA data are reported makes it impossible to integrate weather and seasonal adjustments fully.

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Reactions of Equity Markets to Recent Financial Reforms

Nonna Sorokina & John Thornton

Journal of Economics and Business, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conduct event studies of broad equity market reaction to the events surrounding introduction and enactment of recent financial reform initiatives. In response to the introduction of the Dodd-Frank Act, financial firms and firms from a few other industries experience a statistically significant decrease in systematic risk, while a substantial number of industries, representing a broad cross-section of the economy, experiences a statistically significant increase in systematic risk. The systematic risk in some industries does not change. The increase in risk is concentrated in industries in which firms are dependent on external capital. The initial market reaction to Dodd-Frank indicates that it may lower the risk in financial firms, but the risk for many non-financial firms simultaneously increases.

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What Was Bad for General Motors Was Bad for America: The Automobile Industry and the 1937/38 Recession

Joshua Hausman

Journal of Economic History, June 2016, Pages 427-477

Abstract:
This article shows that there were timing, geographic, and sectoral anomalies in the 1937/38 recession, none of which are easily explained by aggregate shocks. I argue that an auto industry supply shock contributed both to the recession's anomalies and to its severity. Labor-strife-induced wage increases and an increase in raw material costs led auto manufacturers to raise prices in fall 1937. Expectations of these price increases brought auto sales forward. When auto prices finally rose, sales plummeted. This shock likely reduced 1938 auto sales by roughly 600,000 units and 1938 GDP growth by 0.5–1 percentage point.

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Business Microloans for U.S. Subprime Borrowers

Cesare Fracassi et al.

Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, February 2016, Pages 55-83

Abstract:
We show that business microloans to U.S. subprime borrowers have a very large impact on subsequent firm success. Using data on startup loan applicants from a lender that employed an automated algorithm in its application review, we implement a regression discontinuity design assessing the causal impact of receiving a loan on firms. Startups receiving funding are dramatically more likely to survive, enjoy higher revenues, and create more jobs. Loans are more consequential for survival among subprime business owners with more education and less managerial experience.

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Credit Rationing, Income Exaggeration, and Adverse Selection in the Mortgage Market

Brent Ambrose, James Conklin & Jiro Yoshida

Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the role of borrower concerns about future credit availability in mitigating the effects of adverse selection and income misrepresentation in the mortgage market. We show that the majority of additional risk associated with “low-doc” mortgages originated prior to the Great Recession was due to adverse selection on the part of borrowers who could verify income but chose not to. We provide novel evidence that these borrowers were more likely to inflate or exaggerate their income. Our analysis suggests that recent regulatory changes that have essentially eliminated the low-doc loan product would result in credit rationing against self-employed borrowers.

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Joint Liability Lending and Credit Risk: Evidence from the Home Equity Market

Sumit Agarwal et al.

Journal of Housing Economics, June 2016, Pages 47–66

Abstract:
Using a unique dataset of home equity credit contracts, we examine the benefits of joint liability lending. Our results show that the risk of default for joint borrowers with similar risk scores is significantly lower than the risk associated with single borrowers. However, when joint borrowers have divergent risk scores, the risk of default is higher than single borrowers. Our results indicate that the lower risk associated with joint liability is largely dependent upon the similarity of risk characteristics (profiles) of the joint borrowers. Our results suggest that joint liability lending per say does not reduce credit risk.

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Will TLAC regulations fix the G-SIB too-big-to-fail problem?

Paul Kupiec

Journal of Financial Stability, forthcoming

Abstract:
The efficacy of the Financial Stability Board's proposed requirement for minimum “total loss absorbing capacity” (TLAC) at global systemically important banks (G-SIBs) is assessed using a stylized model of a bank holding company and an equilibrium asset pricing model to value financial claims. I identify a number of G-SIB strategies that satisfy minimum TLAC requirements but fail to reduce implicit safety net subsidies that accrue to G-SIB shareholders or increase the resources available to recapitalize a failing G-SIB subsidiary. To meet the FSB's stated goals, TLAC requirements must impose minimum TLAC at all subsidiaries and restrict how TLAC funds can be invested. An equivalent, but much simpler solution is to significantly increase regulatory capital requirements on systemically important bank subsidiaries.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Outlook on life

The Relationship between Education and Mental Health: New Evidence from a Discordant Twin Study

Andrew Halpern-Manners et al.

Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior research has documented a strong and positive correlation between completed education and adults' mental health. Researchers often describe this relationship using causal language: higher levels of education are thought to enhance people's skills, afford important structural advantages, and empower better coping mechanisms, all of which lead to better mental health. An alternative explanation - the social selection hypothesis - suggests that schooling is a proxy for unobserved endowments and/or preexisting conditions that confound the relationship between the two variables. In this article, we seek to adjudicate between these hypotheses using a relatively large, US-based sample of identical adult twins. By relating within-twin-pair differences in education to within-twin-pair differences in mental health, we are able to control for the influence of genetic traits and shared family characteristics that may otherwise bias the estimates associated with educational attainment. Results from our analyses suggest that the observed association between education and mental health is attributable to confounding on unobserved variables. This finding holds across mental health conditions, is robust to several sensitivity checks, and survives a falsification test. Theoretical implications for the study of educational gradients in mental health are discussed.

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Neural mechanisms linking social status and inflammatory responses to social stress

Keely Muscatell et al.

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, June 2016, Pages 915-922

Abstract:
Social stratification has important implications for health and well-being, with individuals lower in standing in a hierarchy experiencing worse outcomes than those higher up the social ladder. Separate lines of past research suggest that alterations in inflammatory processes and neural responses to threat may link lower social status with poorer outcomes. This study was designed to bridge these literatures to investigate the neurocognitive mechanisms linking subjective social status and inflammation. Thirty-one participants reported their subjective social status, and underwent a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan while they were socially evaluated. Participants also provided blood samples before and after the stressor, which were analysed for changes in inflammation. Results showed that lower subjective social status was associated with greater increases in inflammation. Neuroimaging data revealed lower subjective social status was associated with greater neural activity in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC) in response to negative feedback. Finally, results indicated that activation in the DMPFC in response to negative feedback mediated the relation between social status and increases in inflammatory activity. This study provides the first evidence of a neurocognitive pathway linking subjective social status and inflammation, thus furthering our understanding of how social hierarchies shape neural and physiological responses to social interactions.

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Views of a good life and allostatic load: Physiological correlates of theories of a good life depend on the socioeconomic context

Cynthia Levine et al.

Self and Identity, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research examines the relationship between one's theory of a good life and allostatic load, a marker of cumulative biological risk, and how this relationship differs by socioeconomic status. Among adults with a bachelor's degree or higher, those who saw individual characteristics (e.g. personal happiness, effort) as part of a good life had lower levels of allostatic load than those who did not. In contrast, among adults with less than a bachelor's degree, those who saw supportive relationships as part of a good life had lower levels of allostatic load than those who did not. These findings extend past research on socioeconomic differences in the emphasis on individual or relational factors and suggest that one's theory of a good life has health implications.

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Clinical neuroprediction: Amygdala reactivity predicts depressive symptoms 2 years later

Whitney Mattson et al.

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, June 2016, Pages 892-898

Abstract:
Depression is linked to increased amygdala activation to neutral and negatively valenced facial expressions. Amygdala activation may be predictive of changes in depressive symptoms over time. However, most studies in this area have focused on small, predominantly female and homogenous clinical samples. Studies are needed to examine how amygdala reactivity relates to the course of depressive symptoms dimensionally, prospectively and in populations diverse in gender, race and socioeconomic status. A total of 156 men from predominately low-income backgrounds completed an fMRI task where they viewed emotional facial expressions. Left and right amygdala reactivity to neutral, but not angry or fearful, facial expressions relative to a non-face baseline at age 20 predicted greater depressive symptoms 2 years later, controlling for age 20 depressive symptoms. Heightened bilateral amygdala reactivity to neutral facial expressions predicted increases in depressive symptoms 2 years later in a large community sample. Neutral facial expressions are affectively ambiguous and a tendency to interpret these stimuli negatively may reflect to cognitive biases that lead to increases in depressive symptoms over time. Individual differences in amygdala reactivity to neutral facial expressions appear to identify those at most risk for a more problematic course of depressive symptoms across time.

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People Who Choose Time Over Money Are Happier

Hal Hershfield, Cassie Mogilner & Uri Barnea

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Money and time are both scarce resources that people believe would bring them greater happiness. But would people prefer having more money or more time? And how does one's preference between resources relate to happiness? Across studies, we asked thousands of Americans whether they would prefer more money or more time. Although the majority of people chose more money, choosing more time was associated with greater happiness - even controlling for existing levels of available time and money. Additional studies and experiments provide insight into choosers' underlying rationale and the causal direction of the effect.

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The end is (not) near: Aging, essentialism, and future time perspective

David Weiss et al.

Developmental Psychology, June 2016, Pages 996-1009

Abstract:
Beliefs about aging influence how we interpret and respond to changes within and around us. Essentialist beliefs about aging are defined as views that link chronological age with inherent and immutable properties underlying aging-related changes. These beliefs may influence the experience of aging-related changes and shape people's outlook of the future. We hypothesized that people who endorse essentialist beliefs about aging report a more limited future time perspective. Two studies provided correlational (Study 1, N = 250; 18-77 years) and experimental (Study 2, N = 103; 20-77 years) evidence that essentialist beliefs about aging affect people's future time perspective. In addition, Study 2 and Study 3 (N = 174; 34-67 years) tested the underlying mechanism and provided evidence that perception of aging-related threat explains the effect of essentialist beliefs on a reduced future time perspective. These findings highlight the fundamental role of essentialist beliefs about aging for the perception of time horizons in the context of aging.

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Respiratory sinus arrhythmia as a predictor of self-injurious thoughts and behaviors among adolescents

Madeline Wielgus et al.

International Journal of Psychophysiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests that self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITBs) may function as maladaptive emotion regulation strategies. One psychophysiological index of emotion regulatory capacity is respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). The temporal course of RSA responsivity to a stressor may be characterized by basal RSA, RSA reactivity to stressor, and RSA recovery post-stressor. RSA has been linked to both internalizing and externalizing symptoms in adolescents, but little is known about the relation between RSA and SITBs. Initial research has shown a cross-sectional relation between lower basal RSA and greater RSA reactivity to a sad mood induction and self-injury. To date no prospective research on the relation between RSA and SITBs exists. The current study aims to investigate the prospective relation between RSA and SITBs in a community sample of 108 adolescents (Mage = 12.82, SDage = 0.82, 53.70% female). At the initial laboratory visit (T1), participants completed an unsolvable anagram stressor task, during which RSA (basal, reactivity, and recovery) was measured. SITBs were assessed at T1 and at the 6-month follow-up (T2). Results indicated basal RSA and RSA reactivity did not significantly predict engagement in SITBs between T1 and T2. Poorer RSA recovery from the stressor task at T1 did significantly predict engagement in SITBs between T1 and T2, over and above depressive symptoms and lifetime history of SITBs. This suggests that adolescents with poor ability to regulate physiologically following a stressor may turn to maladaptive emotion regulation strategies like SITBs.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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