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Friday, November 18, 2016

Exhale

Will the Paris Accord Accelerate Climate Change?

Laurence Kotlikoff, Andrey Polbin & Andrey Zubarev

NBER Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
The 2015 Paris Accord is meant to control our planet’s rising temperature. But it may be doing the opposite in gradually, rather than immediately reducing CO2 emissions. The Accord effectively tells dirty-energy producers to "use it or lose it." This may be accelerating their extraction and burning of fossil fuels and, thereby, be permanently raising temperatures. Our paper uses a simple OLG model to illustrate this long-noted Green Paradox. Its framework treats climate damage as a negative externality imposed by today’s generations on tomorrow’s – an externality that is, in part, irreversible and can tip the climate to permanently higher temperatures. In our model, delaying abatement can lead to larger changes in climate than doing nothing, reducing welfare for all generations. In contrast, immediate policy action can raise welfare for all generations. Finally we question the standard use of infinitely-lived, single-agent models, which assume, unrealistically, intergenerational altruism in determining optimal abatement policy. Their prescriptions can differ, potentially dramatically, from those needed to correct the negative climate externality today’s generations are imposing on tomorrow’s.

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Hurricane Sandy’s flood frequency increasing from year 1800 to 2100

Ning Lin et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 October 2016, Pages 12071–12075

Abstract:
Coastal flood hazard varies in response to changes in storm surge climatology and the sea level. Here we combine probabilistic projections of the sea level and storm surge climatology to estimate the temporal evolution of flood hazard. We find that New York City’s flood hazard has increased significantly over the past two centuries and is very likely to increase more sharply over the 21st century. Due to the effect of sea level rise, the return period of Hurricane Sandy’s flood height decreased by a factor of ∼3× from year 1800 to 2000 and is estimated to decrease by a further ∼4.4× from 2000 to 2100 under a moderate-emissions pathway. When potential storm climatology change over the 21st century is also accounted for, Sandy’s return period is estimated to decrease by ∼3× to 17× from 2000 to 2100.

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The Economics of Wind Power

Cornelis van Kooten

Annual Review of Resource Economics, 2016, Pages 181-205

Abstract:
Many countries have incentivized wind power projects to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels for generating electricity. As shown in this review, the benefits and costs of integrating electricity from an intermittent wind source into a preexisting electricity grid depend on the operating protocols of the electricity system, the preexisting generation mix, wind profiles, and the nature of economic incentives. Electricity systems are discussed from generation through transmission and distribution to retail demand, including how wind energy impacts investment in marginal (peak time) generating assets. The discussion also examines issues that could limit the usefulness of wind power at the high penetration rates now envisioned: the inability to store electricity, the need for fast-responding backup-generating capacity, network instability, low-capacity factors, and inappropriate incentives. Overall, this review finds that the costs of wind power likely exceed the benefits and that there may be limits to the proportion of electricity that can be generated by wind.

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Recent pause in the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 due to enhanced terrestrial carbon uptake

Trevor Keenan et al.

Nature Communications, November 2016

Abstract:
Terrestrial ecosystems play a significant role in the global carbon cycle and offset a large fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The terrestrial carbon sink is increasing, yet the mechanisms responsible for its enhancement, and implications for the growth rate of atmospheric CO2, remain unclear. Here using global carbon budget estimates, ground, atmospheric and satellite observations, and multiple global vegetation models, we report a recent pause in the growth rate of atmospheric CO2, and a decline in the fraction of anthropogenic emissions that remain in the atmosphere, despite increasing anthropogenic emissions. We attribute the observed decline to increases in the terrestrial sink during the past decade, associated with the effects of rising atmospheric CO2 on vegetation and the slowdown in the rate of warming on global respiration. The pause in the atmospheric CO2 growth rate provides further evidence of the roles of CO2 fertilization and warming-induced respiration, and highlights the need to protect both existing carbon stocks and regions, where the sink is growing rapidly.

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Strategic Policy Choice in State-Level Regulation: The EPA's Clean Power Plan

James Bushnell et al.

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
The EPA's Clean Power Plan sets goals for CO2 emission rate reductions by 2030 that vary substantially across states. States can choose the regulatory mechanism they use and whether or not to join with other states in implementing their goals. We analyze incentives to adopt rate standards versus cap-and-trade with theory and simulation. We show conditions where adoption of inefficient rate standards is a dominant strategy from both consumers' and generators' perspectives. Numerical simulations of the Western electricity system highlight incentives for uncoordinated policies that lower welfare and increase emissions relative to coordination.

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Observed Arctic sea-ice loss directly follows anthropogenic CO2 emission

Dirk Notz & Julienne Stroeve

Science, 11 November 2016, Pages 747-750

Abstract:
Arctic sea ice is retreating rapidly, raising prospects of a future ice-free Arctic Ocean during summer. Since climate-model simulations of the sea-ice loss differ substantially, we here use a robust linear relationship between monthly-mean September sea-ice area and cumulative CO2 emissions to infer the future evolution of Arctic summer sea ice directly from the observational record. The observed linear relationship implies a sustained loss of 3 ± 0.3 m2 of September sea-ice area per metric ton of CO2 emission. Based on this sensitivity, Arctic sea-ice will be lost throughout September for an additional 1000 Gt of CO2 emissions. Most models show a lower sensitivity, which is possibly linked to an underestimation of the modeled increase in incoming longwave radiation and of the modeled Transient Climate Response.

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The Social Cost of Carbon Revisited

Robert Pindyck

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
An estimate of the social cost of carbon (SCC) is key to climate policy. But how should we estimate the SCC? A common approach is to use an integrated assessment model (IAM) to simulate time paths for the atmospheric CO2 concentration, its impact on global mean temperature, and the resulting reductions in GDP and consumption. I have argued that IAMs have serious deficiencies that make them poorly suited for this job, but what is the alternative? I present a more transparent approach to estimating an average SCC, which I argue is a more useful guide for policy than the marginal SCC derived from IAMs. I rely on a survey through which I elicit expert opinions regarding (1) the probabilities of alternative economic outcomes of climate change, including extreme outcomes such as a 20% or greater reduction in GDP, but not the particular causes of those outcomes; and (2) the reduction in emissions required to avert an extreme outcome. My estimate of the average SCC is the ratio of the present value of damages from an extreme outcome to the total emission reduction needed to avert such an outcome. I discuss the survey instrument, explain how experts were identified, and present results. I obtain SCC estimates of $200/mt or higher, but the variation across experts is large. Trimming outliers and focusing on experts who expressed a high degree of confidence in their answers yields lower SCCs, $80 to $100/mt.

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Socioecological transitions trigger fire regime shifts and modulate fire–climate interactions in the Sierra Nevada, USA, 1600–2015 CE

Alan Taylor et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Large wildfires in California cause significant socioecological impacts, and half of the federal funds for fire suppression are spent each year in California. Future fire activity is projected to increase with climate change, but predictions are uncertain because humans can modulate or even override climatic effects on fire activity. Here we test the hypothesis that changes in socioecological systems from the Native American to the current period drove shifts in fire activity and modulated fire–climate relationships in the Sierra Nevada. We developed a 415-y record (1600–2015 CE) of fire activity by merging a tree-ring–based record of Sierra Nevada fire history with a 20th-century record based on annual area burned. Large shifts in the fire record corresponded with socioecological change, and not climate change, and socioecological conditions amplified and buffered fire response to climate. Fire activity was highest and fire–climate relationships were strongest after Native American depopulation — following mission establishment (ca. 1775 CE) — reduced the self-limiting effect of Native American burns on fire spread. With the Gold Rush and Euro-American settlement (ca. 1865 CE), fire activity declined, and the strong multidecadal relationship between temperature and fire decayed and then disappeared after implementation of fire suppression (ca. 1904 CE). The amplification and buffering of fire–climate relationships by humans underscores the need for parameterizing thresholds of human- vs. climate-driven fire activity to improve the skill and value of fire–climate models for addressing the increasing fire risk in California.

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Future nuisance flooding at Boston caused by astronomical tides alone

Richard Ray & Grant Foster

Earth's Future, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sea level rise necessarily triggers more occurrences of minor, or nuisance, flooding events along coastlines, a fact well documented in recent studies. At some locations nuisance flooding can be brought about merely by high spring tides, independent of storms, winds, or other atmospheric conditions. Analysis of observed water levels at Boston indicates that tidal flooding began to occur there in 2011 and will become more frequent in subsequent years. A compilation of all predicted nuisance-flooding events, induced by astronomical tides alone, is presented through year 2050. The accuracy of the tide prediction is improved when several unusual properties of Gulf of Maine tides, including secular changes, are properly accounted for. Future mean sea-level rise at Boston cannot be predicted with comparable confidence, so two very different climate scenarios are adopted; both predict a large increase in the frequency and the magnitude of tidal flooding events.

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The U.S. Economy in WWII as a Model for Coping with Climate Change

Hugh Rockoff

NBER Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
During World War II the United States rapidly transformed its economy to cope with a wide range of scarcities, such as shortfalls in the amounts of ocean shipping, aluminum, rubber, and other raw materials needed for the war effort. This paper explores the mobilization to see whether it provides lessons about how the economy could be transformed to meet scarcities produced by climate change or other environmental challenges. It concludes that the success of the United States in overcoming scarcities during World War II without a major deterioration in living standards provides a basis for optimism that environmental challenges can be met, but that the unique political consensus that prevailed during the war limits the practical usefulness of the wartime model.

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Climate change is advancing spring onset across the U.S. national park system

William Monahan et al.

Ecosphere, October 2016

Abstract:
Many U.S. national parks are already at the extreme warm end of their historical temperature distributions. With rapidly warming conditions, park resource management will be enhanced by information on seasonality of climate that supports adjustments in the timing of activities such as treating invasive species, operating visitor facilities, and scheduling climate-related events (e.g., flower festivals and fall leaf-viewing). Seasonal changes in vegetation, such as pollen, seed, and fruit production, are important drivers of ecological processes in parks, and phenology has thus been identified as a key indicator for park monitoring. Phenology is also one of the most proximate biological responses to climate change. Here, we use estimates of start of spring based on climatically modeled dates of first leaf and first bloom derived from indicator plant species to evaluate the recent timing of spring onset (past 10–30 yr) in each U.S. natural resource park relative to its historical range of variability across the past 112 yr (1901–2012). Of the 276 high latitude to subtropical parks examined, spring is advancing in approximately three-quarters of parks (76%), and 53% of parks are experiencing “extreme” early springs that exceed 95% of historical conditions. Our results demonstrate how changes in climate seasonality are important for understanding ecological responses to climate change, and further how spatial variability in effects of climate change necessitates different approaches to management. We discuss how our results inform climate change adaptation challenges and opportunities facing parks, with implications for other protected areas, by exploring consequences for resource management and planning.

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Coastal sea level rise with warming above 2 °C

Svetlana Jevrejeva et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two degrees of global warming above the preindustrial level is widely suggested as an appropriate threshold beyond which climate change risks become unacceptably high. This “2 °C” threshold is likely to be reached between 2040 and 2050 for both Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 and 4.5. Resulting sea level rises will not be globally uniform, due to ocean dynamical processes and changes in gravity associated with water mass redistribution. Here we provide probabilistic sea level rise projections for the global coastline with warming above the 2 °C goal. By 2040, with a 2 °C warming under the RCP8.5 scenario, more than 90% of coastal areas will experience sea level rise exceeding the global estimate of 0.2 m, with up to 0.4 m expected along the Atlantic coast of North America and Norway. With a 5 °C rise by 2100, sea level will rise rapidly, reaching 0.9 m (median), and 80% of the coastline will exceed the global sea level rise at the 95th percentile upper limit of 1.8 m. Under RCP8.5, by 2100, New York may expect rises of 1.09 m, Guangzhou may expect rises of 0.91 m, and Lagos may expect rises of 0.90 m, with the 95th percentile upper limit of 2.24 m, 1.93 m, and 1.92 m, respectively. The coastal communities of rapidly expanding cities in the developing world, and vulnerable tropical coastal ecosystems, will have a very limited time after midcentury to adapt to sea level rises unprecedented since the dawn of the Bronze Age.

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Economic tools to promote transparency and comparability in the Paris Agreement

Joseph Aldy et al.

Nature Climate Change, November 2016, Pages 1000–1004

Abstract:
The Paris Agreement culminates a six-year transition towards an international climate policy architecture based on parties submitting national pledges every five years. An important policy task will be to assess and compare these contributions. We use four integrated assessment models to produce metrics of Paris Agreement pledges, and show differentiated effort across countries: wealthier countries pledge to undertake greater emission reductions with higher costs. The pledges fall in the lower end of the distributions of the social cost of carbon and the cost-minimizing path to limiting warming to 2 °C, suggesting insufficient global ambition in light of leaders’ climate goals. Countries’ marginal abatement costs vary by two orders of magnitude, illustrating that large efficiency gains are available through joint mitigation efforts and/or carbon price coordination. Marginal costs rise almost proportionally with income, but full policy costs reveal more complex regional patterns due to terms of trade effects.

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The Effects of Adaptation Measures on Hurricane Induced Property Losses: Which FEMA investments have the highest returns?

Meri Davlasheridze, Karen Fisher-Vanden & Allen Klaiber

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, January 2017, Pages 93–114

Abstract:
This paper evaluates the relative effectiveness of FEMA expenditures on hurricane induced property losses. We find that spending on FEMA ex-ante mitigation and planning projects leads to greater reductions in property losses than spending on ex-post adaptation programs — specifically, a one percent increase in annual spending on ex-ante risk reduction and warning projects reduces damages by 0.21 percent while a one percent increase in ex-post recovery and clean-up spending reduces damages by 0.12. Although both types of program spending are effective, we find the marginal return from spending on programs that target long-term mitigation and risk management to be almost twice that of spending on ex-post recovery programs. With the predicted increases in the frequency and severity of North Atlantic hurricanes in the future, our findings suggest there are important potential gains that could be realized from the further diversification of FEMA spending across project categories.

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Impact of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire across western US forests

John Abatzoglou & Park Williams

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 October 2016, Pages 11770–11775

Abstract:
Increased forest fire activity across the western continental United States (US) in recent decades has likely been enabled by a number of factors, including the legacy of fire suppression and human settlement, natural climate variability, and human-caused climate change. We use modeled climate projections to estimate the contribution of anthropogenic climate change to observed increases in eight fuel aridity metrics and forest fire area across the western United States. Anthropogenic increases in temperature and vapor pressure deficit significantly enhanced fuel aridity across western US forests over the past several decades and, during 2000–2015, contributed to 75% more forested area experiencing high (>1 σ) fire-season fuel aridity and an average of nine additional days per year of high fire potential. Anthropogenic climate change accounted for ∼55% of observed increases in fuel aridity from 1979 to 2015 across western US forests, highlighting both anthropogenic climate change and natural climate variability as important contributors to increased wildfire potential in recent decades. We estimate that human-caused climate change contributed to an additional 4.2 million ha of forest fire area during 1984–2015, nearly doubling the forest fire area expected in its absence. Natural climate variability will continue to alternate between modulating and compounding anthropogenic increases in fuel aridity, but anthropogenic climate change has emerged as a driver of increased forest fire activity and should continue to do so while fuels are not limiting.

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Telework: Urban Form, Energy Consumption, and Greenhouse Gas Implications

William Larson & Weihua Zhao

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
A primary motivation of telework policy is to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Using a numerical simulation of the standard urban model, we show telework causes sprawl, calling into question the idea that telework decreases energy consumption. Overall effects depend on wage changes due to telework, land-use regulation such as height limits or greenbelts, and the telework participation rate. While energy consumption increases in some scenarios, emissions may fall due to changes in the energy mix between gasoline and other sources.

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Civil Society in an Age of Environmental Accountability: How Local Environmental Nongovernmental Organizations Reduce U.S. Power Plants’ Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Don Grant & Ion Bogdan Vasi

Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Abstract:
Institutional scholars have argued that in the absence of legislation on the issue of climate change, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) can help reduce the amount of anthropogenic greenhouse gases being emitted to the environment by disseminating environmental norms. Consistent with this reasoning, they have shown that from the middle of the last century up through the mid-1990s, nations with more memberships in NGOs have tended to have lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the aggregate. Doubts remain, however, about whether NGOs have reduced emissions in the time since and at the level of individual power plants where the lion's share of carbon pollution is emitted. Using plant-specific information on CO2 emissions recently collected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, we investigate the effects of local environmental NGOs (ENGOs) on plants’ environmental performance. Consistent with our expectations, we find that local ENGOs not only directly reduce plants’ emissions but indirectly do so by enhancing the effectiveness of subnational climate policies that encourage energy efficiency. We discuss the implications of our findings for research on the decoupling of normative systems, social movements, environmental sociology, and the EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan.

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Relative impacts of mitigation, temperature, and precipitation on 21st-century megadrought risk in the American Southwest

Toby Ault et al.

Science Advances, October 2016

Abstract:
Megadroughts are comparable in severity to the worst droughts of the 20th century but are of much longer duration. A megadrought in the American Southwest would impose unprecedented stress on the limited water resources of the area, making it critical to evaluate future risks not only under different climate change mitigation scenarios but also for different aspects of regional hydroclimate. We find that changes in the mean hydroclimate state, rather than its variability, determine megadrought risk in the American Southwest. Estimates of megadrought probabilities based on precipitation alone tend to underestimate risk. Furthermore, business-as-usual emissions of greenhouse gases will drive regional warming and drying, regardless of large precipitation uncertainties. We find that regional temperature increases alone push megadrought risk above 70, 90, or 99% by the end of the century, even if precipitation increases moderately, does not change, or decreases, respectively. Although each possibility is supported by some climate model simulations, the latter is the most common outcome for the American Southwest in Coupled Model Intercomparison 5 generation models. An aggressive reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions cuts megadrought risks nearly in half.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27790992

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Atypical

Democratic Values? A Racial Group-Based Analysis of Core Political Values, Partisanship, and Ideology

David Ciuk

Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on American core political values, partisanship, and ideology often concludes that liberals and Democrats believe equality to be one of the most important values while conservatives and Republicans place greater emphasis on social order and moral traditionalism. Though these findings are valuable, it is assumed that they generalize across various groups (e.g. socioeconomic classes, religious groups, racial groups, etc.) in society. Focusing on racial groups in contemporary American politics, I challenge this assumption. More specifically, I argue that if individuals’ value preferences are formed during their pre-adult socialization years, and if the socialization process is different across racial groups, then it may be the case that members of different racial groups connect their value preferences to important political behaviors, including partisanship and ideology, in different ways as well. In the first part of this study, I fit a geometric model of value preferences to two different data sets — the first from 2010 and the second from 2002 — and I show that although there is substantial value disagreement between white Democrats/liberals and Republicans/conservatives, that disagreement is smaller in Latinos and almost completely absent in African Americans. In the second part of this study, I demonstrate the political implications of these findings by estimating the effects of values on party and ideology, conditional on race. Results show that where whites’ value preferences affect their partisan and ideological group ties, the effects are smaller in Latinos and indistinguishable from zero in African Americans. I close by suggesting that scholars of values and political behavior ought to think in a more nuanced manner about how fundamental political cognitions relate to various attitudes and behaviors across different groups in society.

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Learned inequality: Racial labels in the biology curriculum can affect the development of racial prejudice

Brian Donovan

Journal of Research in Science Teaching, forthcoming

Abstract:
For over a century, genetic arguments for the existence of racial inequality have been used to oppose policies that promote social equality. And, over that same time period, American biology textbooks have repeatedly discussed genetic differences between races. This experiment tests whether racial terminology in the biology curriculum causes adolescents to develop genetic beliefs about racial difference, thereby affecting prejudice. Individual students (N = 135, grades 7–9) were randomly assigned within their classrooms to learn either from: (i) four text-based lessons discussing racial differences in skeletal structure and the prevalence of genetic disease (racial condition); or (ii) an identical curriculum lacking racial terminology (nonracial condition). Over 3-months that coincided with this learning, students in the racial condition grew significantly more in their perception of the amount of genetic variation between races relative to students in the nonracial condition. Furthermore, those in the racial condition grew in their belief that races differ in intelligence for genetic reasons significantly more than those in the nonracial condition. And, compared to the nonracial condition, students in the racial condition became significantly less interested in socializing across racial lines and less supportive of policies that reduce racial inequality in education. These findings show how biology education sustains racial inequality, and conversely, how human genetic variation education could be designed to reduce genetically based racism.

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Tweetment Effects on the Tweeted: Experimentally Reducing Racist Harassment

Kevin Munger

Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
I conduct an experiment which examines the impact of group norm promotion and social sanctioning on racist online harassment. Racist online harassment de-mobilizes the minorities it targets, and the open, unopposed expression of racism in a public forum can legitimize racist viewpoints and prime ethnocentrism. I employ an intervention designed to reduce the use of anti-black racist slurs by white men on Twitter. I collect a sample of Twitter users who have harassed other users and use accounts I control (“bots”) to sanction the harassers. By varying the identity of the bots between in-group (white man) and out-group (black man) and by varying the number of Twitter followers each bot has, I find that subjects who were sanctioned by a high-follower white male significantly reduced their use of a racist slur. This paper extends findings from lab experiments to a naturalistic setting using an objective, behavioral outcome measure and a continuous 2-month data collection period. This represents an advance in the study of prejudiced behavior.

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A comparison of race-related pain stereotypes held by White and Black individuals

Nicole Hollingshead et al.

Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Pain judgments are the basis for pain management. The purpose of this study was to assess Black and White participants' race-related pain stereotypes. Undergraduates (n = 551) rated the pain sensitivity and willingness to report pain for the typical Black person, White person, and themselves. Participants, regardless of race, rated the typical White person as being more pain sensitive and more willing to report pain than the typical Black person. White participants rated themselves as less sensitive and less willing to report pain than same-race peers; however, Black participants rated themselves as more pain sensitive and more willing to report pain than same-race peers. These findings highlight similarities and differences in racial stereotypic pain beliefs held by Black and White individuals.

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Ethnic Cueing Across Minorities a Survey Experiment on Candidate Evaluation in the United States

Claire Adida, Lauren Davenport & Gwyneth McClendon

Public Opinion Quarterly, Winter 2016, Pages 815-836

Abstract:
The number of minority voters in the United States continues to rise, and politicians must increasingly appeal to a diverse electorate. Are ethnic cues effective with different groups of minority voters? In this article, we investigate this question across the two largest minority groups in the United States: Blacks and Latinos. Drawing on American politics research, we propose that Black respondents will react positively to coethnic and cominority cues, while Latinos will be less receptive to such cues, and that this difference will be due at least in part to varying perceptions of discrimination across the two groups. We test this argument with an experimental design that leverages Congressman Charles Rangel’s mixed heritage as Black and Latino. Our results confirm that Black participants respond positively to both coethnic and cominority cues about Rangel, while Latino participants do not. Reactions to ethnic cues in turn correspond to differences in perceptions of discrimination.

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Hearing in Color: How Expectations Distort Perception of Skin Tone

Ulrik Lyngs et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has found that the perceived brightness of a face can be distorted by the social category of race. Thus, Levin and Banaji (2006) found, in a U.S. sample, that faces of identical brightness were perceived to be lighter if they had stereotypical White American features than if they had Black American features. Here, we present 2 experiments conducted in Natal, Brazil, that extend this line of research. Experiment 1 tested if the brightness distortion effect would generalize to a Brazilian population. Experiment 2 tested if speech accent would have a similar effect on brightness perception. In Experiment 1, we found that the brightness distortion effect clearly replicated in the Brazilian sample: Faces with Black racial features were perceived to be darker than faces with White racial features, even though their objective brightness was identical. In Experiment 2, we found that speech accent influenced brightness perception in a similar manner: Faces were perceived to be darker when paired with an accent associated with low socioeconomic status than when they were paired with an accent associated with high socioeconomic status. Whereas racial concepts in Brazil are often claimed to be much more fluid compared with the United States, our findings suggest that the populations are quite similar with respect to associations between facial features and skin tone. Our findings also demonstrate speech accent as an additional source of category information that perceptual cognition can take into account when modeling the world.

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Positivity Bias in Judging Ingroup Members’ Emotional Expressions

Talya Lazerus et al.

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigated how group membership impacts valence judgments of ingroup and outgroup members’ emotional expressions. In Experiment 1, participants, randomized into 2 novel, competitive groups, rated the valence of in- and outgroup members’ facial expressions (e.g., fearful, happy, neutral) using a circumplex affect grid. Across all emotions, participants judged ingroup members’ expressions as more positive than outgroup members’ expressions. In Experiment 2, participants categorized fearful and happy expressions as being either positive or negative using a mouse-tracking paradigm. Participants exhibited the most direct trajectories toward the “positive” label for ingroup happy expressions and an initial attraction toward positive for ingroup expressions of fear, with outgroup emotion trajectories falling in between. Experiment 3 replicated Experiment 2 and demonstrated that the effect could not be accounted for by targets’ gaze direction. Overall, people judged ingroup faces as more positive, regardless of emotion, both in deliberate and implicit judgments.

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Cultural Sentiments and Schema-Consistency Bias in Information Transmission

Fallin Hunzaker

American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The negative outcomes associated with cultural stereotypes based on race, class, and gender and related schema-consistency biases are well documented. How these biases become culturally entrenched is less well understood. In particular, previous research has neglected the role of information transmission processes in perpetuating cultural biases. In this study, I combine insights from the cultural cognition, affect control theory, and cultural transmission frameworks to examine how one form of internalized culture — fundamental cultural sentiments — affects the content of information shared in communication. I argue that individuals communicate narratives in ways that minimize deflection of internalized cultural sentiments, resulting in cultural-consistency bias. I test this proposition using a serial transmission study in which participants read and retell short stories. Results show that culturally inconsistent, high-deflection information experiences an initial boost in memorability, but consistency biases ultimately win out as information is altered to increase cultural consistency, demonstrating that deflection provides a promising measure of cultural schema-consistency. This measure is predictive of the information that individuals share in communication and changes to this information in the transmission process.

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Fairy Godmothers > Robots: The Influence of Televised Gender Stereotypes and Counter-Stereotypes on Girls’ Perceptions of STEM

Bradley Bond

Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, June 2016, Pages 91-97

Abstract:
The present study, grounded in gender schema theory, employed a posttest experimental design to examine how television might influence girls’ perceptions of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Girls (6-9 years old) were either exposed to stereotypical or counter-stereotypical STEM female television characters. In a posttest following exposure, girls reported math and science self-efficacy, preference for STEM and stereotypical careers, and perceptions of scientists’ gender using the draw-a-scientist procedure. Girls in the stereotype condition reported more interest in stereotypical careers and were more likely to perceive scientists as males than girls in the counter-stereotype STEM condition or a no exposure control. Girls in the counter-stereotype STEM condition did not differ from the no exposure control in any of the dependent variables. Results suggest that onetime exposure to televised stereotypes may activate existing gender schema, but that onetime exposure to televised counter-stereotypes may not have the capacity to alter girls’ STEM schema.

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Recalibrating valence-weighting tendencies as a means of reducing anticipated discomfort with an interracial interaction

Evava Pietri, John Dovidio & Russell Fazio

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
We utilized a general intervention that affects (through “recalibration”) the way people generalize negative associations when evaluating objects to promote less negative expectations about an interaction with a Black Internet “chat” partner. During this intervention, participants played a game to learn which “beans” varying in shape and speckles increased or decreased their points. Participants later classified game beans and new beans as good or bad. Recalibration condition participants were told whether they classified beans correctly, thus receiving feedback regarding the appropriate weighting of resemblance to a known positive versus negative object. Control participants, who received no feedback, were more likely to classify new beans as negative than recalibration participants. Compared to control, the recalibration condition also anticipated feeling less intergroup anxiety during a chat with a Black partner (Experiments 1 and 2) and this effect was strongest among participants who reported fewer close interactions with Black people (Experiment 2).

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Experiencing Racial Humor with Outgroups: A Psychophysiological Examination of Co-Viewing Effects

Omotayo Banjo et al.

Media Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on co-viewing (or group viewing) is scarce. Yet, co-viewing has important implications for the viewers’ entertainment experience and the way viewers respond to and evaluate entertainment — especially those with controversial messages. The present study investigated responses to racial humor content among racial in-group and out-group viewing contexts. Specifically, the study examined the extent to which Blacks and Whites would experience discomfort when viewing racial slurs in comedies with in-group compared to out-group members. Employing real-time psychophysiological data and multilevel time series models, the study found a significant increase in emotional arousal (indicated by SCRs) and distraction (indicated by RSA) among Blacks in the context of out-group viewing compared to in-group viewing, but not for Whites. Implications of findings are discussed.

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The world is a scary place: Individual differences in belief in a dangerous world predict specific intergroup prejudices

Corey Cook et al.

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests that people chronically concerned with safety, as measured by the Belief in a Dangerous World (BDW) Scale, are prone to intergroup prejudice and likely to endorse negative stereotypes under conditions eliciting concern for safety. Using a sociofunctional, threat-based approach to prejudice, the current research tested whether people with high BDW report increased prejudice specifically toward groups stereotypically associated with safety-related threats compared to groups associated with unrelated threats. Studies 1 and 2 found that higher BDW predicts increased negativity, safety-related concern, and fear toward groups stereotypically associated with threats to safety (e.g., illegal immigrants and Muslims) compared to groups thought to pose unrelated threats (e.g., gay men and obese people). Study 3 activated concern for safety using a news story detailing increased crime (vs. a control story), finding an interaction between safety concern activation, target group, and BDW, such that situational threat concern elicited greater prejudice toward Mexican Americans, but not toward Asian Americans, from those participants with higher BDW. These studies suggest that individual differences in concern for safety predict specific prejudices (e.g., fear and social distancing) toward distinct groups rather than general outgroup negativity.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

No holds barred

Are Legacy Airline Mergers Pro- or Anti-Competitive? Evidence from Recent U.S. Airline Mergers

Dennis Carlton et al.

University of Chicago Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
Recent mergers have reduced the number of legacy airlines in the United States from six to three. We examine the effect of these legacy airline mergers on fares and output to determine whether the mergers have had an overall pro-competitive or anti-competitive effect. We focus on routes most likely to have been adversely affected by a reduction in competition. Our difference-in-differences regression analysis shows that those routes experienced no significant adverse effect on fares and significant increases in passenger traffic as well as capacity. These results indicate that the recent legacy mergers were pro-competitive.

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Evidence for the Effects of Mergers on Market Power and Efficiency

Bruce Blonigen & Justin Pierce

NBER Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
Study of the impact of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) on productivity and market power has been complicated by the difficulty of separating these two effects. We use newly-developed techniques to separately estimate productivity and markups across a wide range of industries using detailed plant-level data. Employing a difference-in-differences framework, we find that M&As are associated with increases in average markups, but find little evidence for effects on plant-level productivity. We also examine whether M&As increase efficiency through reallocation of production to more efficient plants or through reductions in administrative operations, but again find little evidence for these channels, on average. The results are robust to a range of approaches to address the endogeneity of firms’ merger decisions.

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Using Big Data to Estimate Consumer Surplus: The Case of Uber

Peter Cohen et al.

NBER Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
Estimating consumer surplus is challenging because it requires identification of the entire demand curve. We rely on Uber’s “surge” pricing algorithm and the richness of its individual level data to first estimate demand elasticities at several points along the demand curve. We then use these elasticity estimates to estimate consumer surplus. Using almost 50 million individual-level observations and a regression discontinuity design, we estimate that in 2015 the UberX service generated about $2.9 billion in consumer surplus in the four U.S. cities included in our analysis. For each dollar spent by consumers, about $1.60 of consumer surplus is generated. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the overall consumer surplus generated by the UberX service in the United States in 2015 was $6.8 billion.

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Do Ride-Sharing Services Affect Traffic Congestion? An Empirical Study of Uber Entry

Ziru Li, Yili Hong & Zhongju Zhang

Arizona State University Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
Sharing economy platform, which leverages information technology (IT) to re-distribute unused or underutilized assets to people who are willing to pay for the services, has received tremendous attention in the last few years. Its creative business models have disrupted many traditional industries (e.g., transportation, hotel) by fundamentally changing the mechanism to match demand with supply in real time. In this research, we investigate how Uber, a peer-to-peer mobile ride-sharing platform, affects traffic congestion and environment (carbon emissions) in the urban areas of the United States. Leveraging a unique data set combining data from Uber and the Urban Mobility Report, we examine whether the entry of Uber car services affects traffic congestion using a difference-in-difference framework. Our findings provide empirical evidence that ride-sharing services such as Uber significantly decrease the traffic congestion after entering an urban area. We perform further analysis including the use of instrumental variables, alternative measures, a relative time model using more granular data to assess the robustness of the results. A few plausible underlining mechanisms are discussed to help explain our findings.

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Information, competition, and the quality of charities

Silvana Krasteva & Huseyin Yildirim

Journal of Public Economics, December 2016, Pages 64–77

Abstract:
Drawing upon the all-pay auction literature, we propose a model of charity competition in which informed giving alone can account for the significant quality heterogeneity across similar charities. Our analysis identifies a negative effect of competition and a positive effect of informed giving on the equilibrium quality of charity. In particular, we show that as the number of charities grows, so does the percentage of charity scams, approaching one in the limit. In light of this and other results, we discuss the need for regulating nonprofit entry and conduct as well as promoting informed giving.

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Defaults, Decision Costs and Welfare in Behavioural Policy Design

Nicholas Chesterley

Economica, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper studies the welfare effects of behavioural policies that change a consumer's default option or their cost of optimizing. I find that such policies, though increasingly popular, lead not just to changes in the welfare of optimizers or default-takers in the population — the payoff effect — but also to the membership of those groups — the composition effect. This can lead to costly and potentially counterintuitive effects: improving defaults may actually lower welfare, unlike decision simplification, which is unambiguously positive. Such approaches present a useful policy tool but are not always appropriate, and considerable knowledge of preferences is necessary for effective implementation.

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The Optimal Distribution of Population across Cities

David Albouy et al.

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
The received economic wisdom is that cities are too big and that public policy should limit their sizes. This wisdom assumes, unrealistically, that city sites are homogeneous, migration is unfettered, land is given freely to incoming migrants, and federal taxes are neutral. Should those assumptions not hold, large cities may be inefficiently small. We prove this claim in a system of cities with heterogeneous sites and either free mobility or local governments, where agglomeration economies, congestion, federal taxation, and land ownership create wedges. A quantitative version of our model suggests that cities may well be too numerous and underpopulated for a wide range of plausible parameter values. The welfare costs of free migration equilibria appear small, whereas they seem substantial when local governments control city size.

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On the Relevance of Market Power

Louis Kaplow

Harvard Law Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Market power is the most important determinant of liability in competition law cases throughout the world. Yet fundamental questions on the relevance of market power are underanalyzed, if examined at all: When and why should we inquire into market power? How much should we require? Should market power be viewed as one thing, regardless of the practice under scrutiny and independent of the pertinent anticompetitive and procompetitive explanations for its use? Does each component of market power have the same probative force? Or even influence optimal liability determinations in the same direction? This Article’s ground-up investigation of market power finds that the answers often differ from what is generally believed and sometimes are surprising — notably, higher levels of certain market power measures or particular market power components sometimes disfavor liability. This gulf between conventional wisdom and correct understanding suggests the need to redirect research agendas, agency guidance, and competition law doctrine.

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Attribute Search in Online Retailing

Timothy Richards, Stephen Hamilton & Janine Empen

American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Online retailing has created an empirical opportunity to examine consumer search behavior using click stream data. In this article we examine the implications of greater variety online for consumer search intensity, and equilibrium prices. We test our hypothesis using consumer data on online search and purchase behavior from the comScore Web Behavior Panel. We find that search intensity systematically decreases in categories with broader product ranges, and equilibrium prices rise. Our findings suggests that broader product ranges in online retail markets can produce anti-competitive effects that are mediated through equilibrium responses in consumer search behavior.

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Power to the People: Does Ownership Type Influence Electricity Service?

Richard Boylan

Journal of Law and Economics, May 2016, Pages 441-476

Abstract:
After storm-related power outages, many have recommended municipalizing investor-owned utilities, claiming that profit-making utilities have insufficient incentive to prepare for storms. I provide empirical evidence that municipal utilities spend more on maintenance of their distribution network than investor-owned utilities. Nonetheless, I find that storms significantly disrupt electricity consumption in areas served by municipal utilities but do not disrupt areas served by investor-owned utilities. These results are based on a stratified random sample of 241 investor-owned, 96 cooperative, and 94 municipal utilities in the United States between 1999 and 2012. I conclude that municipal utilities’ in-efficiencies are more important in causing power outages than investor-owned utilities’ disincentives to spend on maintenance.

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Can Nudges Hurt? The Case of Tightwads and Spendthrifts

Linda Thunström, Ben Gilbert & Chian Jones Ritten

University of Wyoming Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
People have been found to experience pain when spending money, which can help regulate spending. For some, pain levels are optimal for managing spending (‘unconflicted’), but for others these levels are too low (‘spendthrifts’) or too high (‘tightwads’). We evaluate the effect of spending reminder nudges across subjects with different levels of pain of paying. To do so, we use a laboratory spending task where we vary the market context through treatments with different availability of product quality information (full, opt in, no information), and nudges designed to encourage rational spending (an opportunity cost reminder, an arbitrage reminder, no reminder). Two key results emerge. First, reminder nudges have undesired welfare effects. Tightwads, who already spend too little, significantly reduce their spending when reminded of opportunity costs, while spending by spendthrifts, who spend too much, is unaffected. Opportunity cost reminders therefore exacerbate the predisposition of tightwads to feel too much pain of paying, rather than encourage all types to make more rational decisions. Arbitrage reminders have similar effects, but results are mixed and weaker. Second, the context most helpful in reducing pain of paying for tightwads and increasing pain of paying for spendthrifts is the standard condition of an efficient market: fully-provided, costless information and no spending nudges.

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Regional Technology Dynamism and Noncompete Clauses: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Thor Berger & Carl Benedikt Frey

Journal of Regional Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper, we examine the causal impact of enforceable covenants not to compete (CNCs) on labor market matching and the technological dynamism of regions. Exploiting the fact that the Michigan Antitrust Reform Act (MARA) of 1985 inadvertently repealed Michigan' s prohibition on CNC enforcement, we show that technical professionals in Michigan became increasingly likely to switch industry relative to similar workers in other U.S. states after prohibition. Workers switching industries after the introduction of MARA also earned lower wages, implying that they shifted into technical fields where their skills from previous employment were less productive. Estimates further show that the technological dynamism of Michigan declined in tandem, as fewer workers shifted into new types of jobs associated with recent technological advances. These findings are consistent with the view that skilled professionals that are subject to CNCs are more likely to leave their field of work postemployment to avoid lawsuits.

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Who Feeds the Trolls? Patent Trolls and the Patent Examination Process

Josh Feng & Xavier Jaravel

Harvard Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
Leveraging random examiner assignment and detailed patent prosecution data, we find that non-practicing entities (NPEs) purchase patents granted by examiners that tend to issue incremental patents with vaguely-worded claims. In comparison, practicing entities purchase a very different set of patents, but assert patents similar to those purchased by NPEs. These results show that on average NPEs purchase and assert patents productive for litigation but lacking technological merit, thus adding to overall litigation fees without providing incentives for high-quality innovations. Their activities are in part the symptom of a broader problem with the issuance of ill-defined intellectual property rights, which leads to (likely inefficient) litigation even among practicing entities. A cost-benefit calibration shows that investments in improving examination quality at the United States Patent Office would have large social returns.

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When Civil Society Uses an Iron Fist: The Roles of Private Associations in Rulemaking and Adjudication

Robert Ellickson

American Law and Economics Review, Fall 2016, Pages 235-271

Abstract:
Alexis de Tocqueville and Robert Putnam are but two of the many admirers of the countless private associations that lie at the core of civil society. This article seeks to advance understanding of the law-like activities of these associations. Residential community associations and sports leagues, for example, make rules and levy fines on members who violate them. The New York Diamond Dealers Club and the Writers Guild of America, like many other associations, have established internal arbitral panels for the resolution of member disputes. Courts are highly likely to defer to the outcomes of these arbitrations. The article’s central positive thesis, hedged with qualifications, is that a private association tends to engage in social control when it is the most cost-effective institution for addressing the issue at hand. This thesis is used to illuminate some otherwise puzzling associational practices, such as the efforts of the National Football League and other professional sports leagues to control players' domestic violence off the field of play.

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Welfare Implications of Congestion Pricing: Evidence from SFpark

Pnina Feldman, Jun Li & Hsin-Tien Tsai

University of California Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
Congestion pricing provides an appealing solution to urban parking problems. By charging varying rates across areas based on their congestion levels, congestion pricing shifts demand and allows a better allocation of limited resources. It aims to increase the accessibility of highly desired public goods for commuters who value them, and reduce traffic caused by drivers searching for available parking spaces. Using data from the City of San Francisco both before and after a congestion pricing scheme was implemented in 2011, we estimate the welfare implications of the policy. We use a two-stage dynamic search model to estimate consumers' search costs, distance disutilities, price sensitivities and trip valuations. These estimates then allow us to conduct welfare comparisons. We find that congestion pricing increases consumer welfare in popular areas, but when implemented in less-congested areas, it may actually hurt consumer welfare. In one of the districts under study, consumers ended up searching more, parked further away and paid more. Interestingly, despite the improved availability, congestion pricing may actually increase traffic due to cruising (searching for parking), as price sensitive consumers start to search for inexpensive parking spaces, particularly when prices are highly dispersed geographically. Through counterfactual analyses, we find that a simple three-tier pricing policy, which eliminates the search for a lower price, can significantly increase welfare and achieve more than 50% of the welfare increase achieved by a full price information benchmark.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

All about babies

Pregnancy and Dropout: Effects of Family, Neighborhood, and High School Characteristics on Girls’ Fertility and Dropout Status

Nathan Berg & Teresa Nelson

Population Research and Policy Review, December 2016, Pages 757–789

Abstract:
Administrative data from multiple sources are combined to measure pregnancy (excluding those ending in abortion or miscarriage) and high school dropout in a cohort of girls who were 9th graders in the 1994–1995 academic year. Rates of pregnancy (as identified in the data) and dropout are substantially higher among Hispanic high school students than among African-Americans or non-Hispanic whites. Previous studies of teen pregnancy and dropout typically focus on pregnancy rates conditional on dropout status, or dropout rates conditional on fertility. This paper presents estimates of pregnancy and dropout as a joint-dependent variable. Estimates of their joint probability distribution conditional on individual, family, neighborhood, and high school characteristics are reported. The estimates use longitudinal administrative data collected as annual censuses of all public school students in Texas with individual-level ids. Neighborhood characteristics (from the US Census data geographically linked to Texas high schools) have large effects on pregnancy and dropout. Immigrant Hispanic girls’ pregnancy rates are significantly lower than native-born Hispanic girls’ pregnancy rates. Above-normal-age status in the 9th grade is among the strongest predictors of pregnancy and dropout in later years. Ethnic differences in age distributions within grade level appear to explain a large share of ethnic differences in pregnancy and dropout rates.

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Trends in Gestational Age at Time of Surgical Abortion for Fetal Aneuploidy and Structural Abnormalities

Anne Davis, Sarah Horvath & Paula Castaño

American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, forthcoming

Study Design: We conducted a retrospective case series of all women undergoing surgical abortion for fetal aneuploidy or structural abnormalities up to 24 weeks gestation from 2004 through 2014 in a hospital operating room setting at a single, urban medical center. We excluded labor induction abortions (<1% of abortions at our medical center) and suction aspirations performed in the office practice. We performed suction aspiration up to 14 weeks and dilation and evacuation after that gestational age. We describe the median gestational age at abortion by fetal indication and year.

Results: For women undergoing abortion for fetal aneuploidy (n = 392), the median gestational age at time of abortion decreased from 19.0 weeks (interquartile range 18.0-21.0) in 2004 to 14.0 weeks (interquartile range 13.0-17.0) in 2014 (Kruskal Wallis P < .0001). For women undergoing abortion for fetal structural abnormalities (n = 586), the median gestational age was ≥ 20 weeks for each year during the study interval (P = .1). As gestational age decreased in the fetal aneuploidy group, fewer women underwent dilation and evacuation and more became eligible for suction aspiration (<14 weeks). In 2004, >90% of women underwent dilation and evacuation for either indication. By 2014, 31% of women with fetal aneuploidy were eligible for suction aspiration compared to 11% of those with structural anomalies.

Conclusion: Gestational age at the time of abortion for fetal aneuploidy decreased substantially from 2004 to 2014; earlier abortion is safer for women. In contrast, women seeking abortion for fetal structural abnormalities did not experience a change in timing. Legislation restricting gestational age at the time of abortion could disproportionately affect women with fetal structural abnormalities.

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State Abortion Policy and Unintended Birth Rates in the United States

Marshall Medoff

Social Indicators Research, November 2016, Pages 589–600

Abstract:
Restrictive state abortion laws make it more difficult and costly for women to obtain an abortion. The fundamental law of demand posits that an increase in the cost of an abortion should cause the number of abortions to decrease. This suggests that restrictive state abortion laws should cause women with unintended pregnancies to have fewer abortions and concomitantly more unintended births. This paper investigates the impact four restrictive state abortion laws — No Medicaid Funding, Parental Involvement, Mandatory Counseling and Waiting Periods — have on the unintended birth rates of the 50 US states for the year 2006. Using a variety of methodologies, the empirical results show that, contrary to the theoretical prediction, these four antiabortion laws do not have a significant positive effect on unintended birth rates.

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Black-White Differences in Sex and Contraceptive Use Among Young Women

Yasamin Kusunoki et al.

Demography, October 2016, Pages 1399–1428

Abstract:
This study examines black-white and other sociodemographic differences in young women’s sexual and contraceptive behaviors, using new longitudinal data from a weekly journal-based study of 1,003 18- to 19-year-old women spanning 2.5 years. We investigate hypotheses about dynamic processes in these behaviors during early adulthood in order to shed light on persisting racial differences in rates of unintended pregnancies in the United States. We find that net of other sociodemographic characteristics and adolescent experiences with sex and pregnancy, black women spent less time in relationships and had sex less frequently in their relationships than white women, but did not differ in the number of relationships they formed or in their frequency or consistency of contraceptive use within relationships. Black women were more likely to use less effective methods for pregnancy prevention (e.g., condoms) than white women, who tended to use more effective methods (e.g., oral contraceptives). And although the most effective method for pregnancy prevention — long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) — was used more often by black women than white women, LARC use was low in both groups. In addition, black women did not differ from white women in their number of discontinuations or different methods used and had fewer contraceptive method switches. Further, we find that net of race and adolescent experiences with sex and pregnancy, women from more-disadvantaged backgrounds had fewer and longer (and thus potentially more serious) relationships, used contraception less frequently (but not less consistently), and used less effective methods (condoms) than women from more-advantaged backgrounds.

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Paternal age negatively predicts offspring physical attractiveness in two, large, nationally representative datasets

Michael Woodley of Menie & Satoshi Kanazawa

Personality and Individual Differences, forthcoming

Abstract:
The effect of paternal age on offspring attractiveness has recently been investigated. Negative effects are predicted as paternal age is a strong proxy for the numbers of common de novo mutations found in the genomes of offspring. As an indicator of underlying genetic quality or fitness, offspring attractiveness should decrease as paternal age increases, evidencing the fitness-reducing effects of these mutations. Thus far results are mixed, with one study finding the predicted effect, and a second smaller study finding the opposite. Here the effect is investigated using two large and representative datasets (Add Health and NCDS), both of which contain data on physical attractiveness and paternal age. The effect is present in both datasets, even after controlling for maternal age at subject's birth, age of offspring, sex, race, parental and offspring (in the case of Add Health) socio-economic characteristics, parental age at first marriage (in the case of Add Health) and birth order. The apparent robustness of the effect to different operationalizations of attractiveness suggests high generalizability, however the results must be interpreted with caution, as controls for parental levels of attractiveness were indirect only in the present study.

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Pensions and fertility: Back to the roots

Robert Fenge & Beatrice Scheubel

Journal of Population Economics, January 2017, Pages 93–139

Abstract:
Fertility has long been declining in industrialised countries and the existence of public pension systems is considered as one of the causes. This paper provides detailed evidence on the mechanism by which a public pension system depresses fertility, based on historical data. Our theoretical framework highlights that the effect of a public pension system on fertility is ex ante ambiguous while its size is determined by the internal rate of return of the pension system. We identify an overall negative effect of the introduction of pension insurance on fertility using regional variation across 23 provinces of Imperial Germany in key variables of Bismarck’s pension system, which was introduced in Imperial Germany in 1891. The negative effect on fertility is robust to controlling for the traditional determinants of the first demographic transition as well as to other policy changes.

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Abortion, Property, and Liberty

William Simkulet

Journal of Ethics, December 2016, Pages 373–383

Abstract:
In “Abortion and Ownership” John Martin Fischer argues that in Judith Jarvis Thomson’s violinist case you have a moral obligation not to unplug yourself from the violinist. Fischer comes to this conclusion by comparing the case with Joel Feinberg’s cabin case, in which he contends a stranger is justified in using your cabin to stay alive. I argue that the relevant difference between these cases is that while the stranger’s right to life trumps your right to property in the cabin case, the violinist’s right to life does not trump your right to liberty in the violinist case.

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Does Population Control Lead to Better Child Quality? Evidence from China’s One-Child Policy Enforcement

Bingjing Li & Hongliang Zhang

Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Scholarly evidence on the quantity-quality trade-off is mixed in part because of the identification challenge due to endogenous family size. This paper provides new evidence of the causal effect of child quantity on child quality by exploiting regional differences in the enforcement intensity of China’s one-child policy (OCP) as an exogenous source of variation in family size. Using the percentage of current mothers of primary childbearing age who gave a higher order birth in 1981, we construct a quantitative indicator of the extent of local violation of the OCP, referred to as the excess fertility rate (EFR). We then use regional differences in EFRs, net differences in pre-existing fertility preferences and socio-economic characteristics, to proxy for regional differences in OCP enforcement intensity. Using micro data from the Chinese Population Censuses, we find that prefectures with stricter enforcement of the OCP have experienced larger declines in family size and also greater improvements in children’s education. Despite the evident trade-off between family size and child quality in China, our quantitative estimates suggest that China’s OCP makes only a modest contribution to the development of its human capital.

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The effects of teenage childbearing on long-term health in the US: A twin-fixed-effects approach

Pınar Mine Güneş

Review of Economics of the Household, December 2016, Pages 891–920

Abstract:
This paper explores the effect of teenage childbearing on long-term health outcomes and behaviors of mothers using the Midlife Development in the US dataset. Within-family estimations, using samples of siblings, and twin pairs, are employed to overcome the bias generated by unobserved family background and genetic traits. The results suggest no significant effects on health outcomes, and modest effects on health behaviors, including exercise and preventive care. However, accounting for life-cycle effects demonstrates that teenage childbearing has significant effects on both health outcomes and behaviors early in life, but very few significant effects later in life. Moreover, teenage childbearing has a particularly acute effect among minorities. Finally, this paper provides evidence that the effects operate through reduced income and labor force participation, and matching with a lower “quality” spouse.

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No relationship between abortion numbers and maternal cognitive ability

Michael Woodley of Menie, Justus Sänger & Gerhard Meisenberg

Personality and Individual Differences, January 2017, Pages 489–492

Abstract:
The relationship between maternal cognitive ability (as indicated by g and highest attained educational level) and self-reported numbers of abortions at near-completed fertility is investigated in two, population representative samples of the US: (i) a sample of 1386 women, sourced from NLSY’79 (aged 39–47), and (ii) a sample 842 women (aged 38–45), sourced from NSFG’11–13. No linear relationships between either of the cognitive ability measures and abortion numbers were found, nor were quadratic effects present in these data. Income had an independent negative effect on abortion numbers in the NSFG’11–13 sample, whereas age was a positive independent predictor in the NLSY’79 sample. The essentially zero-magnitude association between maternal cognitive ability and abortion numbers may have resulted from the wide scale destigmatization of elective abortion as a birth-control technique in the US following the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade. Despite this, self-reported abortion numbers data typically underrepresent the true numbers of abortions hence these findings must be considered tentative especially if underreporting is unsystematic with respect to any of the predictors.

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Embryo quality: The missing link between pregnancy sickness and pregnancy outcome

Scott Forbes

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Pregnancy sickness is widespread yet its etiology is poorly understood. It is almost certainly endocrine in origin and most likely a product of placental hormones, with human chorionic gonadotropin being the strongest candidate. It has long been known that greater levels of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are associated with a lower incidence of spontaneous abortion, yet the causal mechanisms remain unclear. One current popular explanation is that nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is fetoprotective, inducing aversions to foods, especially meat, dairy and seafoods, which may carry toxins, pathogens or mutagens. However, most spontaneous abortions arise from genetic or epigenetic defects that are present at or near conception. Moreover, measurements of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) at the time of implantation, particularly its hyperglycosylated isoform, accurately predict subsequent spontaneous abortion. Thus the developmental fate of most embryos is fixed before the onset of the symptoms of pregnancy sickness. An alternative explanation for the link between pregnancy sickness and spontaneous abortion is the embryo quality hypothesis: high quality embryos are both more likely to produce the biochemical antecedents of pregnancy sickness and avoid spontaneous abortion. Recent work has shown that the link between pregnancy sickness and spontaneous abortion grows stronger with maternal age, dramatically so in mothers 35 or older. This reflects the parallel rise in the incidence of autosomal aneuploidies with maternal age. The link between pregnancy sickness and spontaneous abortion exists not because nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is fetoprotective, but because nausea and vomiting is an index of a high quality embryo. Pregnancy sickness is not adaptive pers se, but the result of an antagonistic pleiotropy over thyroid function, where embryos use hCG to modulate maternal thyroid hormone production during gestation. Embryos benefit from the thyroid hormone production that is key to neurodevelopment, but produce maternal nausea and vomiting as a by-product. Pregnancy sickness, however, may still serve to protect embryo quality but by a different mechanism that posited under the MEPH. Embryo quality is protected by calibrating the dietary intake of a micronutrient – iodine – critical to neuromotor development. For most humans over most of our evolutionary history, iodine has been in short supply, and iodine deficiency is still the most common source of cognitive impairment across the globe. Thus it is of interest that the foods aversions most commonly associated with pregnancy sickness, to meat, dairy and seafoods, are also the chief dietary sources of iodine. There is a further intriguing property about iodine: both too little and too much during early pregnancy is damaging to embryo brain development. Given that pregnancy sickness is closely linked to iodine intake and thyroid function (hypothyroidism is associated with lower levels of nausea and vomiting, hyperthyroidism with more), an obvious interpretation emerges. The previously described link between diet and pregnancy sickness – pregnancy sickness is less likely when plants and particularly corn / maize are the sole food staples – arises not because plant food staples are safe, as previously suggested, but because these foods are iodine poor and may, in addition, be goitrogenic. Pregnancy sickness, which reduces the dietary intake of iodine, is clearly maladaptive under conditions of iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism. Conversely, higher levels of pregnancy sickness induced by hyperthyroidism may protect embryos from the inimical effects of excessive dietary iodine during early gestation by reducing the intake of iodine rich foods.

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Malaria Ecology, Child Mortality & Fertility

Gordon McCord, Dalton Conley & Jeffrey Sachs

Economics & Human Biology, February 2017, Pages 1–17

Abstract:
The broad determinants of fertility are thought to be reasonably well identified by demographers, though the detailed quantitative drivers of fertility levels and changes are less well understood. This paper uses a novel ecological index of malaria transmission to study the effect of child mortality on fertility. We find that temporal variation in the ecology of the disease is well-correlated to mortality, and pernicious malaria conditions lead to higher fertility rates. We then argue that most of this effect occurs through child mortality, and estimate the effect of child mortality changes on fertility. Our findings add to the literature on disease and fertility, and contribute to the suggestive evidence that child mortality reductions have a causal effect on fertility changes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, November 14, 2016

Developing stories

Masters of Disasters? An Empirical Evaluation of the Social Implications of Corporate Disaster Giving

Luis Ballesteros, Michael Useem & Tyler Wry

Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Corporations have become increasingly influential within societies around the world, while the relative capacity of national governments to meet large social needs has waned. Consequentially, firms are being asked to adopt responsibilities that have traditionally fallen to governments, aid agencies, and other types of organizations. There are questions, though, about whether or not this is beneficial for society. We study this in the context of disaster relief and recovery; an area where companies account for a growing share of aid as compared to traditional providers. Drawing on the dynamic capabilities literature, we argue that firms are better-equipped than other types of organizations to sense areas of need following a disaster, seize response opportunities, and reconfigure resources for fast, effective relief efforts. As such, we predict that — while traditional aid providers are important for disaster recovery — relief will arrive faster, and nations will recover more fully when locally active firms account for a larger share of disaster aid. We test our predictions with a proprietary dataset comprising information on every natural disaster and reported aid donation worldwide from 2003 to 2013. Our analysis uses a novel, quasi-experimental technique known as the synthetic control method and shows that nations benefit greatly from corporate involvement when disaster strikes.

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Knowledge Elites and Modernization: Evidence from Revolutionary France

Mara Squicciarini & Nico Voigtländer

NBER Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
This paper examines the role of knowledge elites in modernization. At the eve of the French Revolution, in the spring of 1789, King Louis XVI solicited lists of grievances (Cahiers de Doléances), in which the public could express complaints and suggestions for reforms of the Ancien Regime. We show that the demand for mass education and democratization was particularly high in regions that had a thick knowledge elite, measured by subscribers to the famous Encyclopédie in the 1770s. Historical evidence suggests that this pattern is driven by the spirit of enlightenment of French knowledge elites. Pre-revolution literacy, in contrast, is not correlated with demand for mass education or with the density of knowledge elites. After the French Revolution, knowledge elites played a key role in implementing schooling reforms at the local level. We show that by the mid-19th century, schooling rates were significantly higher in regions with thicker knowledge elites. The same is true of other proxies for modernization, such as association membership, Republican votes, and the share of French-speaking pupils. Our results highlight an important interaction between local culture (the spirit of enlightenment) and nation-wide institutions in economic development: the French Revolution opened a window of opportunity for local elites to pursue their agenda of modernization.

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Adam Smith, Watch Prices, and the Industrial Revolution

Morgan Kelly & Cormac Ó Gráda

Quarterly Journal of Economics, November 2016, Pages 1727-1752

Abstract:
Although largely absent from modern accounts of the Industrial Revolution, watches were the first mass produced consumer durable, and were Adam Smith’s pre-eminent example of technological progress. In fact, Smith makes the notable claim that watch prices may have fallen by up to 95 per cent over the preceding century; a claim that this paper attempts to evaluate. We look at changes in the reported value of over 3,200 stolen watches from criminal trials in the Old Bailey in London from 1685 to 1810. Before allowing for quality improvements, we find that the real price of watches in nearly all categories falls steadily by 1.3 per cent per year, equivalent to a fall of 75 per cent over a century, showing that sustained innovation in the production of a highly complex artefact had already appeared in one important sector of the British economy by the early eighteenth century.

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The economic consequences of the Spanish Reconquest: The long-term effects of Medieval conquest and colonization

Daniel Oto-Peralías & Diego Romero-Ávila

Journal of Economic Growth, December 2016, Pages 409–464

Abstract:
This paper shows that a historical process that ended more than five centuries ago, the Reconquest, is very important to explain Spanish regional economic development down to the present day. An indicator measuring the rate of Reconquest reveals a heavily negative effect on current income differences across the Spanish provinces. A main intervening factor in the impact the Reconquest has had is the concentration of economic and political power in a few hands, excluding large segments of the population from access to economic opportunities when Spain entered the industrialization phase. The timing of the effect is consistent with this argument. A general implication of our analysis is that large frontier expansions may favor a political equilibrium among the colonizing agents that is biased toward the elite, creating the conditions for an inegalitarian society, with negative consequences for long-term economic development.

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Endogenous Property Rights

Carmine Guerriero

Journal of Law and Economics, May 2016, Pages 313-358

Abstract:
Although property rights are key, their determinants are still poorly understood. When property is fully protected, some potential buyers with valuation higher than that of original owners are inefficiently excluded from trade because of transaction costs. When property rights are weak, low-valuation potential buyers inefficiently expropriate original owners. The trade-off between these two misallocations implies that the protection of property will be stronger the more heterogeneous the potential buyer’s preferences are. This implication holds true when part of the population has more political influence on institutional design, when transaction costs are determined by either market power or asymmetric information, and when the disincentive effect of weak property rights is taken into account. Moreover, it is consistent with the relationships between measures of ethnolinguistic, genetic, and religious diversity and novel data on the rules on adverse possession and on government takings of real property in 126 jurisdictions.

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The Middle-Income Trap: More Politics than Economics

Richard Doner & Ben Ross Schneider

World Politics, October 2016, Pages 608-644

Abstract:
Economists have identified the existence of a middle-income (mi) trap but have yet to analyze the politics of this trap. The authors argue that countries in the mi trap face two major institutional and political challenges. First, the policies necessary to upgrade productivity — as in human capital and innovation — require enormous investment in institutional capacity. Second, these institutional challenges come at a time when political capacity for building these institutions is weak, due primarily to the fragmentation of potential support coalitions. Politics are stalled in particular by fractured social groups, especially business and labor, and more generally by inequality. These conditions result in large measure from previous trajectories of growth. The empirical analysis concentrates on nine of the larger mi countries.

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Direct Democracy and Resource Allocation: Experimental Evidence from Afghanistan

Andrew Beath, Fotini Christia & Ruben Enikolopov

Journal of Development Economics, January 2017, Pages 199–213

Abstract:
Direct democracy is designed to better align policy outcomes with citizen preferences. To test this proposition, we randomized whether 250 villages across Afghanistan selected projects by secret-ballot referenda or by consultation meetings. We find that referenda reduce the influence of local elites over both project type and location. Consistent with previous experimental results, we also find that referenda improve villagers’ perceptions of the local economy and of the quality of local governance. However, we find no systematic evidence that selecting projects via referenda increases the average impact of such projects.

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Colonial Revenue Extraction and Modern Day Government Quality in the British Empire

Rasmus Broms

World Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
The relationship between the extent of government revenue a government collects, primarily in the form of taxation, and its overall quality has increasingly been identified as a key factor for successful state building, good institutions, and — by extension — general development. Initially deriving from historical research on Western Europe, this process is expected to unfold slowly over time. This study tests the claim that more extensive revenue collection has long-lasting and positive consequences for government quality in a developmental setting. Using fiscal records from British colonies, results from cross-colony/country regression analyses reveal that higher colonial income-adjusted revenue levels during the early twentieth century can be linked to higher government quality today. This relationship is substantial and robust to several specifications of both colonial revenue and modern day government quality, and remains significant under control for a range of rivaling explanations. The results support the notion that the current institutional success of former colonies can be traced back to the extent of historical revenue extraction.

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Rights Without Resources: The Impact of Constitutional Social Rights on Social Spending

Adam Chilton & Mila Versteeg

University of Virginia Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
Over the past decades, constitutions around the world have come to protect a growing number of social rights. This constitutionalization of social rights has generally been met with approval from academics, human rights activists, policy-makers, and development economists alike. But despite this widespread support, there is hardly any evidence on whether the inclusion of rights in constitutions actually changes how governments provide social services to their citizens. We take up this question by studying the effect of adopting the constitutional right to education and healthcare on government spending. Using data on 186 countries’ constitutional rights, we employ a variety of empirical tests to examine if the rights to education and healthcare are associated with increases in government spending. Our results suggest that the adoption of these social rights is not associated with statistically significant or substantively meaningful increases in government spending on education or healthcare.

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Does household financial access facilitate law compliance? Evidence from Mexico

Emilio Gutiérrez & Kensuke Teshima

Economics Letters, December 2016, Pages 120–124

Abstract:
We investigate the impact of financial access on law compliance (whether workers are registered in a mandated social security system). In contrast to previous studies that focus on firms’ access to credit, we investigate workers’ access to credit. Exploiting the geographic variation in financial access due to Banco Azteca’s opening in Mexico in 2002 that changed financial access by poor people almost overnight, we find that financial access increased the probability of getting formalized.

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The World Bank, Organized Hypocrisy, and Women's Health: A Cross-National Analysis of Maternal Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa

Carolyn Coburn et al.

Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Abstract:
The theory of organized hypocrisy asserts that an organization depends upon its external environment for both financial support and conferred legitimacy, which can lead to conflicting policy agendas. We apply the theory of organized hypocrisy to World Bank structural adjustment and investment lending for reproductive health, hypothesizing these two lending policies should have differential effects on maternal mortality. We estimate a two-way fixed effects regression model with robust standard errors clustered by country to examine the effect of World Bank reproductive health lending on maternal mortality within sub-Saharan African nations over the period 1990–2010. We find that in every model the coefficients for World Bank structural adjustment lending in the health sector are positive and significant while the coefficients for World Bank investment lending in the reproductive health sector are negative and significant. The findings lend support to the theory that the World Bank is pursuing contradictory agendas, embodied by its lending policies, which can have differential effects on maternal mortality.

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Securing Property Rights

Edward Glaeser, Giacomo Ponzetto & Andrei Shleifer

NBER Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
A central challenge in securing property rights is the subversion of justice through legal skill, bribery, or physical force by the strong — the state or its powerful citizens — against the weak. We present evidence that the less educated and poorer citizens in many countries feel their property rights are least secure. We then present a model of a farmer and a mine which can pollute his farm in a jurisdiction where the mine can subvert law enforcement. We show that, in this model, injunctions or other forms of property rules work better than compensation for damage or liability rules. The equivalences of the Coase Theorem break down in realistic ways. The case for injunctions is even stronger when parties can invest in power. Our approach sheds light on several controversies in law and economics, but also applies to practical problems in developing countries, such as low demand for formality, law enforcement under uncertain property rights, and unresolved conflicts between environmental damage and development.

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Migration, Diversity, and Economic Growth

Vincenzo Bove & Leandro Elia

World Development, January 2017, Pages 227–239

Abstract:
When migrants move from one country to another, they carry a new range of skills and perspectives, which nurture technological innovation and stimulate economic growth. At the same time, increased heterogeneity may undermine social cohesion, create coordination, and communication barriers, and adversely affect economic development. In this article we investigate the extent to which cultural diversity affects economic growth and whether this relation depends on the level of development of a country. We use novel data on bilateral migration stocks, that is the number of people living and working outside the countries of their birth over the period 1960–2010, and compute indices of fractionalization and polarization. In so doing, we explore the effect of immigration on development through its effect on the composition of the destination country. We find that overall both indices have a distinct positive impact on real GDP per capita and that the effect of diversity seems to be more consistent in developing countries.

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The Devil is in the Details: The Successes and Limitations of Bureaucratic Reform in India

Iqbal Dhaliwal & Rema Hanna

Journal of Development Economics, January 2017, Pages 1–21

Abstract:
Using a biometric technology to monitor the attendance of public health workers in India resulted in a 15 percent increase in staff presence, particularly for lower-level staff. The monitoring program led to a reduction in low-birth weight babies, highlighting the importance of improving provider presence. But, despite the government initiating this reform, there was ultimately a low demand by the government to use the higher quality attendance data available in real time to enforce their existing human resource policies (e.g. leave or salary deductions) due to logistical challenges and a not unrealistic fear of generating staff discord or increase in staff attrition, especially among doctors, who showed the least improvement in attendance. While we observed some gains from this type of monitoring program, technological solutions by themselves will not improve attendance of government staff without a willingness to use the data generated to enforce existing penalties.

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Intra-Elite Competition and Long-Run Fiscal Development

Pablo Beramendi, Mark Dincecco & Melissa Rogers

Duke University Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
We offer a new rationale to help explain cross-national differences in long-run fiscal development. Higher public goods provision can translate into productivity gains in an industrializing society. Thus, capitalist elites -- unlike agricultural elites, who rely on traditional production methods -- may prefer to invest in greater fiscal capacity. Furthermore, to pay for this investment, capitalist elites may prefer to shoulder a higher tax burden through progressive direct taxation, which they may view as the least-worst economic option. To test the predictions of our argument, we exploit an original fiscal database that spans 30-plus developed and developing nations over 1870-2010. We find a positive, significant, and robust relationship between intra-elite competition among agricultural and capitalist elites and the size and structure of fiscal states. Our results show that fiscal development may take place even in the absence of interstate military competition and warfare.

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Lifting the iron curtain: School-age education and entrepreneurial intentions

Oliver Falck, Robert Gold & Stephan Heblich

Journal of Economic Geography, forthcoming

Abstract:
We exploit Germany’s reunification to identify how school-age education affects entrepreneurial intentions. We look at university students in reunified Germany who were born before the Iron Curtain fell. During school age, all students in the West German control group received formal and informal education in a free-market economy, while East German students did or did not receive free-market education. Difference-in-differences estimations show that school-age education in a free-market economy increases entrepreneurial intentions. An event study supports the common-trends assumption. Results remain robust in matched samples and when we exploit within-student variation in occupational intentions to control for unobserved individual characteristics.

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Has climate change driven urbanization in Africa?

Vernon Henderson, Adam Storeygard & Uwe Deichmann

Journal of Development Economics, January 2017, Pages 60–82

Abstract:
This paper documents strong but differentiated links between climate and urbanization in large panels of districts and cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, which has dried substantially in the past fifty years. The key dimension of heterogeneity is whether cities are likely to have manufacturing for export outside their regions, as opposed to being exclusively market towns providing local services to agricultural hinterlands. In regions where cities are likely to be manufacturing centers (25% of our sample), drier conditions increase urbanization and total urban incomes. There, urban migration provides an “escape” from negative agricultural moisture shocks. However, in the remaining market towns (75% of our sample), cities just service agriculture. Reduced farm incomes from negative shocks reduce demand for urban services and derived demand for urban labor. There, drying has little impact on urbanization or total urban incomes. Lack of structural transformation in Africa inhibits a better response to climate change.

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From Personalized Exchange Towards Anonymous Trade: A Field Experiment on the Workings of the Invisible Hand

Erwin Bulte et al.

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
The experimental literature has shown the tendency for experimental trading markets to converge to neoclassical predictions. Yet, the extent to which theory explains the equilibrating forces in markets remains under-researched, especially in the developing world. We set up a laboratory in 94 villages in rural Sierra Leone to mimic a real market. We implement several treatments, varying trading partners and the anonymity of trading. We find that when trading with co-villagers average efficiency is somewhat lower than predicted by theory (and observed in different contexts), and markets do not fully converge to theoretical predictions across rounds of trading. When participants trade with strangers efficiency is reduced more. Anonymizing trade within the village does not affect efficiency. This points to the importance of behavioral norms for trade. Intra-village social relationships or hierarchies, instead, appear less important as determinants of trading outcomes. This is confirmed by analysis of the trader-level data, showing that individual earnings in the experiment do not vary with one’s status or position in local networks.

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Mobile Phones, Civic Engagement, and School Performance in Pakistan

Minahil Asim & Thomas Dee

NBER Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
The effective governance of local public services depends critically on the civic engagement of local citizens. However, recent efforts to promote effective citizen oversight of the public-sector services in developing countries have had mixed results. This study discusses and evaluates a uniquely designed, low-cost, scalable program designed to improve the governance and performance of primary and middle schools in the Punjab province of Pakistan. The School Council Mobilization Program (SCMP) used mobile-phone calls to provide sustained and targeted guidance to local school-council members on their responsibilities and authority. We examine the effects of the SCMP on school enrollment, student and teacher attendance, and school facilities using a “difference in difference in differences” (DDD) design based on the targeted implementation of the SCMP. We find that this initiative led to meaningful increases in primary-school enrollment, particularly for young girls (i.e., a 12.4 percent increase), as well as targeted improvements in teacher attendance and school facilities, most of which were sustained in the months after the program concluded.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mad men

The Dark Side of Scarcity Promotions: How Exposure to Limited-Quantity Promotions Can Induce Aggression

Kirk Kristofferson et al.

Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Marketers frequently use scarcity promotions, where a product or event is limited in availability. The present research shows conditions under which the mere exposure to such advertising can activate actual aggression that manifests even outside the domain of the good being promoted. Further, we document the process underlying this effect: exposure to limited-quantity promotion advertising prompts consumers to perceive other shoppers as competitive threats to obtaining a desired product and physiologically prepares consumers to aggress. Seven studies using multiple behavioral measures of aggression demonstrate this deleterious response to scarcity promotions.

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Combating the Sting of Rejection With the Pleasure of Revenge: A New Look at How Emotion Shapes Aggression

David Chester & Nathan DeWall

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does emotion explain the relationship between social rejection and aggression? Rejection reliably damages mood, leaving individuals motivated to repair their negatively valenced affective state. Retaliatory aggression is often a pleasant experience. Rejected individuals may then harness revenge’s associated positive affect to repair their mood. Across 6 studies (total N = 1,516), we tested the prediction that the rejection–aggression link is motivated by expected and actual mood repair. Further, we predicted that this mood repair would occur through the positive affect of retaliatory aggression. Supporting these predictions, naturally occurring (Studies 1 and 2) and experimentally manipulated (Studies 3 and 4) motives to repair mood via aggression moderated the rejection–aggression link. These effects were mediated by sadistic impulses toward finding aggression pleasant (Studies 2 and 4). Suggesting the occurrence of actual mood repair, rejected participants’ affective states were equivalent to their accepted counterparts after an act of aggression (Studies 5 and 6). This mood repair occurred through a dynamic interplay between preaggression affect and aggression itself, and was driven by increases in positive affect (Studies 5 and 6). Together, these findings suggest that the rejection–aggression link is driven, in part, by the desire to return to affective homeostasis. Additionally, these findings implicate aggression’s rewarding nature as an incentive for rejected individuals’ violent tendencies.

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Exploring the Relationship Between Violent Behavior and Participation in Football During Adolescence: Findings From a Sample of Sibling Pairs

Kevin Beaver, J.C. Barnes & Brian Boutwell

Youth & Society, November 2016, Pages 786-809

Abstract:
The current study examined the association between playing high school football and involvement in violent behaviors in sibling pairs drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). The analysis revealed that youth who played high school football self-reported more violence than those youth who did not play football. Quantitative genetic analyses revealed that 85% of the variance in football participation was the result of genetic factors and 62% of the variance in violent behavior was due to genetic factors. Additional analyses indicated that 54% of the covariance between football participation and violence was due to genetics and 46% was the result of nonshared environmental influences. However, even after controlling for genetic influences, participation in football appeared to increase violent behavior.

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Testosterone administration does not affect men's rejections of low ultimatum game offers or aggressive mood

Carlos Cueva et al.

Hormones and Behavior, January 2017, Pages 1–7

Abstract:
Correlative evidence suggests that testosterone promotes dominance and aggression. However, causal evidence is scarce and offers mixed results. To investigate this relationship, we administered testosterone for 48 h to 41 healthy young adult men in a within-subjects, double-blind placebo-controlled balanced crossover design. Subjects played the role of responders in an ultimatum game, where rejecting a low offer is costly, but serves to destroy the proposer's profit. Such action can hence be interpreted as non-physical aggression in response to social provocation. In addition, subjects completed a self-assessed mood questionnaire. As expected, self-reported aggressiveness was a key predictor of ultimatum game rejections. However, while testosterone affected subjective ratings of feeling energetic and interested, our evidence strongly suggests that testosterone had no effect on ultimatum game rejections or on aggressive mood. Our findings illustrate the importance of using causal interventions to assess correlative evidence.

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Preliminary evidence that testosterone's association with aggression depends on self-construal

Keith Welker et al.

Hormones and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research and theory suggest testosterone is an important hormone for modulating aggression and self-regulation. We propose that self-construal, a culturally-relevant difference in how individuals define the self in relation to others, may be an important moderator of the relationship between testosterone and behaviors linked to aggression. Within two studies (Study 1 N = 80; Study 2 N = 237) and an integrated data analysis, we find evidence suggesting that acute testosterone changes in men are positively associated with aggressive behavior for those with more independent self-construals, whereas basal testosterone is negatively associated with aggression when individuals have more interdependent self-construals. Although preliminary, these findings suggest that self-construal moderates the association between testosterone and aggression, thereby paving the way toward future work examining the potential cultural moderation of the behavioral effects of testosterone.

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Effects of Violent Media on Verbal Task Performance in Gifted and General Cohort Children

Yakup Çetin et al.

Gifted Child Quarterly, October 2016, Pages 279-286

Abstract:
Violent media immediately grab our attention. However, violent media also detract attention from other cues. A large body of research shows that violent media impair attention and memory, critical resources for academic performance, such as verbal tasks at school. The present study tested whether gifted children are more insulated or more vulnerable to these violent media effects. Gifted (n = 74) and general cohort (n = 80) 10-year-old children were randomly assigned to watch a 12-minute violent or nonviolent cartoon. A verbal task was completed before and after the video. Results showed that gifted children outperformed general cohort children on the verbal task after watching a nonviolent cartoon, but not after watching a violent cartoon. Thus, the violent video eliminated the typical advantage gifted children have on verbal tasks. These findings suggest that the harmful effects of violent media on verbal tasks are greater for gifted children than for general cohort children.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Search your feelings

Not strange but not true: Self-reported interest in a topic increases false memory

Anthony O’Connell & Ciara Greene

Memory, forthcoming

Abstract:
People are more likely to recall both true and false information that is consistent with their pre-existing stereotypes, schemata and desires. In addition, experts in a particular field are more likely to experience false memory in relation to their area of expertise. Here, we investigate whether level of interest, as distinct from level of knowledge, and in the absence of self-professed expertise, is associated with increased false memory. 489 participants were asked to rank 7 topics from most to least interesting. They were then asked if they remembered the events described in four news items related to the topic they selected as the most interesting and four items related to the topic selected as least interesting. In each case, three of the events depicted had really happened and one was fictional. A high level of interest in a topic increased true memories for the topic and doubled the frequency of false memories, even after controlling for level of knowledge. We interpret the results in the context of the source-monitoring framework and suggest that false memories arise as a result of interference from existing information stored in domain-related schemata.

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Open-label placebo treatment in chronic low back pain: A randomized controlled trial

Cláudia Carvalho et al.

Pain, forthcoming

Abstract:
This randomized controlled trial was performed to investigate whether placebo effects in chronic low back pain could be harnessed ethically by adding open-label placebo (OLP) treatment to treatment as usual (TAU) for 3 weeks. Pain severity was assessed on three 0- to 10-point Numeric Rating Scales, scoring maximum pain, minimum pain, and usual pain, and a composite, primary outcome, total pain score. Our other primary outcome was back-related dysfunction, assessed on the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire. In an exploratory follow-up, participants on TAU received placebo pills for 3 additional weeks. We randomized 97 adults reporting persistent low back pain for more than 3 months' duration and diagnosed by a board-certified pain specialist. Eighty-three adults completed the trial. Compared to TAU, OLP elicited greater pain reduction on each of the three 0- to 10-point Numeric Rating Scales and on the 0- to 10-point composite pain scale (P < 0.001), with moderate to large effect sizes. Pain reduction on the composite Numeric Rating Scales was 1.5 (95% confidence interval: 1.0-2.0) in the OLP group and 0.2 (-0.3 to 0.8) in the TAU group. Open-label placebo treatment also reduced disability compared to TAU (P < 0.001), with a large effect size. Improvement in disability scores was 2.9 (1.7-4.0) in the OLP group and 0.0 (-1.1 to 1.2) in the TAU group. After being switched to OLP, the TAU group showed significant reductions in both pain (1.5, 0.8-2.3) and disability (3.4, 2.2-4.5). Our findings suggest that OLP pills presented in a positive context may be helpful in chronic low back pain.

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Alpha-range visual and auditory stimulation reduces the perception of pain

K. Ecsy, A.K.P. Jones & C.A. Brown

European Journal of Pain, forthcoming

Background: Alpha power is believed to have an inverse relationship with the perception of pain. Increasing alpha power through an external stimulus may, therefore, induce an analgesic effect. Here, we attempt to modulate the perception of a moderately painful acute laser stimulus by separately entraining three frequencies across the alpha band: 8, 10 and 12 Hz.

Methods: Participants were exposed to either visual or auditory stimulation at three frequencies in the alpha-band range and a control frequency. We collected verbal pain ratings of laser stimuli from participants following 10 minutes of flashing LED goggle stimulation and 10 minutes of binaural beat stimulation across the alpha range. Alterations in sleepiness, anxiety and negative mood were recorded following each auditory or visual alpha-rhythm stimulation session.

Results: A significant reduction in pain ratings was found after both the visual and the auditory stimulation across all three frequencies compared with the control condition. In the visual group, a significantly larger reduction was recorded following the 10-Hz stimulation than succeeding the 8- and 12-Hz conditions.

Conclusions: This study suggests that a short presentation of auditory and visual stimuli, oscillating in the alpha range, have an analgesic effect on acute laser pain, with the largest effect following the 10-Hz visual stimulation. Pain reductions following stimulation in the alpha range are independent of sleepiness, anxiety, and negative moods.

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Sad Man’s Nose: Emotion Induction and Olfactory Perception

Elena Flohr et al.

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Emotional and olfactory processing is frequently shown to be closely linked both anatomically and functionally. Depression, a disease closely related to the emotional state of sadness, has been shown to be associated with a decrease in olfactory sensitivity. The present study focuses on the state of sadness in n = 31 healthy subjects in order to investigate the specific contribution of this affective state in the modulation of olfactory processing. A sad or indifferent affective state was induced using 2 movies that were presented on 2 separate days. Afterward, chemosensory-evoked potentials were recorded after stimulation with an unpleasant (hydrogen sulfide: “rotten eggs”) or a pleasant (phenyl ethyl alcohol: “rose”) odorant. Latencies of N1 and P2 peaks were longer after induction of the sad affective state. Additionally, amplitudes were lower in a sad affective state when being stimulated with the unpleasant odorant. Processing of olfactory input has thus been reduced under conditions of the sad affective state. We argue that the affective state per se could at least partially account for the reduced olfactory sensitivity in depressed patients. To our knowledge, the present study is the first to show influence of affective state on chemosensory event-related potentials.

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Adult Age Differences in the Interpretation of Surprised Facial Expressions

Michael Shuster, Joseph Mikels & Linda Camras

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on adult age differences in the interpretation of facial expressions has yet to examine evaluations of surprised faces, which signal that an unexpected and ambiguous event has occurred in the expresser’s environment. The present study examined whether older and younger adults differed in their interpretations of the affective valence of surprised faces. Specifically, we examined older and younger participants’ evaluations of happy, angry, and surprised facial expressions. We predicted that, on the basis of age-related changes in the processing of emotional information, older adults would evaluate surprised faces more positively than would younger adults. The results indicated that older adults interpreted surprised faces more positively than did their younger counterparts. These findings reveal a novel age-related positivity effect in the interpretation of surprised faces, suggesting that older adults imbue ambiguous facial expressions — that is, expressions that lack either positive or negative facial actions — with positive meaning.

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Expert Players Accurately Detect an Opponent’s Movement Intentions Through Sound Alone

Ivan Camponogara et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sounds offer a rich source of information about events taking place in our physical and social environment. However, outside the domains of speech and music, little is known about whether humans can recognize and act upon the intentions of another agent’s actions detected through auditory information alone. In this study we assessed whether intention can be inferred from the sound an action makes, and in turn, whether this information can be used to prospectively guide movement. In 2 experiments experienced and novice basketball players had to virtually intercept an attacker by listening to audio recordings of that player’s movements. In the first experiment participants had to move a slider, while in the second one their body, to block the perceived passage of the attacker as they would in a real basketball game. Combinations of deceptive and nondeceptive movements were used to see if novice and/or experienced listeners could perceive the attacker’s intentions through sound alone. We showed that basketball players were able to more accurately predict final running direction compared to nonplayers, particularly in the second experiment when the interceptive action was more basketball specific. We suggest that athletes present better action anticipation by being able to pick up and use the relevant kinematic features of deceptive movement from event-related sounds alone. This result suggests that action intention can be perceived through the sound a movement makes and that the ability to determine another person’s action intention from the information conveyed through sound is honed through practice.

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Playing counter-strike versus running: The impact of leisure time activities and cortisol on intermediate-term memory in male students

Harald Kindermann, Andrija Javor & Martin Reuter

Cognitive Systems Research, December 2016, Pages 1–7

Abstract:
The everyday life of students is characterized by hours of learning in order to pass exams. After learning they tend to opt for an occupation that provides them with a great deal of entertainment. It is obvious that it would be advantageous if the chosen activity had a positive impact on memory consolidation. Due to the circumstance that such activities can lead to stress and that memory is affected by stress we wanted to look at these coherences. We examined the effect of two different common leisure time activities on cortisol and memory to be able to formulate recommendations for society. For this purpose, a group was tested before and after playing a violent computer game while the second group was tested before and after running. In addition, a control group was set up. Salivary cortisol was measured at the beginning, during, and at the end of the experiment. Our data demonstrates that running increases cortisol levels and, performed immediately after a learning period, facilitates memorization of neutral information. In contrast, playing a violent computer game tends to impair memorization. The results of the present study have practical implications for the choice of recreational activities in the context of learning.

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Practice makes imperfect: Working memory training can harm recognition memory performance

Laura Matzen et al.

Memory & Cognition, November 2016, Pages 1168–1182

Abstract:
There is a great deal of debate concerning the benefits of working memory (WM) training and whether that training can transfer to other tasks. Although a consistent finding is that WM training programs elicit a short-term near-transfer effect (i.e., improvement in WM skills), results are inconsistent when considering persistence of such improvement and far transfer effects. In this study, we compared three groups of participants: a group that received WM training, a group that received training on how to use a mental imagery memory strategy, and a control group that received no training. Although the WM training group improved on the trained task, their posttraining performance on nontrained WM tasks did not differ from that of the other two groups. In addition, although the imagery training group’s performance on a recognition memory task increased after training, the WM training group’s performance on the task decreased after training. Participants’ descriptions of the strategies they used to remember the studied items indicated that WM training may lead people to adopt memory strategies that are less effective for other types of memory tasks. These results indicate that WM training may have unintended consequences for other types of memory performance.

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Beware the Serpent: The Advantage of Ecologically-Relevant Stimuli in Accessing Visual Awareness

Nuno Gomes et al.

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Snakes and spiders constitute fear-relevant stimuli for humans, as many species have deleterious and even fatal effects. However, snakes provoked an older and thus stronger evolutionary pressure than spiders, shaping the vision of earliest primates towards preferential visual processing, mainly in the most complex perceptual conditions. To the best of our knowledge, no study has yet directly assessed the role of ecologically-relevant stimuli in preferentially accessing visual awareness. Using Continuous Flash Suppression (CFS), the present study assessed the role of evolutionary pressure in gaining a preferential access to visual awareness. For this purpose, we measured the time needed for three types of stimuli - snakes, spiders (matched with snakes for rated fear levels, but for which an influence on humans but not other primates is well grounded) and birds - to break the suppression and enter visual awareness in two different suppression intensity conditions. The results showed that in the less demanding awareness access condition (stimuli presented to the participants' dominant eye) both evolutionarily relevant stimuli (snakes and spiders) showed a faster entry into visual awareness than birds, whereas in the most demanding awareness access condition (stimuli presented to the participants' non-dominant eye) only snakes showed this privileged access. Our data suggests that the privileged unconscious processing of snakes in the most complex perceptual conditions extends to visual awareness, corroborating the proposed influence of snakes in primate visual evolution.

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A Prime Example of the Maluma/Takete Effect? Testing for Sound Symbolic Priming

David Sidhu & Penny Pexman

Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Certain nonwords, like maluma and takete, are associated with roundness and sharpness, respectively. However, this has typically been demonstrated using explicit tasks. We investigated whether this association would be detectable using a more implicit measure — a sequential priming task. We began with a replication of the standard Maluma/Takete effect (Experiments 1a and 1b) before examining whether round and sharp nonword primes facilitated the categorization of congruent shapes (Experiment 2). We found modest evidence of a priming effect in response accuracy. We next examined whether nonword primes affected categorization of ambiguous shapes, using visual (Experiment 3) and auditory primes (Experiment 4). We found that ambiguous shapes were categorized as round (sharp) more often following the presentation of a round (sharp) nonword. This suggests that phonemes may activate related shape information which then affects the processing of shapes, and that this association emerges even when participants are not explicitly searching for it.

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Minimal Conditions of Motor Inductions of Approach-Avoidance States: The Case of Oral Movements

Sascha Topolinski & Lea Boecker

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
The minimal conditions to elicit affective responses via approach-avoidance movements were explored by using oral movements (total N = 1,363). To induce oral movements, words were construed whose consonants (and vowels) wandered either from front to back of the mouth (e.g., PEKA, inward, like swallowing, approach) or from back to front (e.g., KEPA, outward, like spitting, avoidance). Participants preferred inward over outward consonant wanderings when reading only 2 phonemes (e.g., PEKA vs. KEPA), single letters (e.g., PK vs. KP), and even when only listening to a speaker uttering such stimuli (Experiments 1–4). Vowel wanderings had no systematic effect. The larger the consonantal inward and outward jumps, irrespective from where they started in the mouth, the stronger was their affective impact (Experiments 6–7). Visual presentation of words generally evoked stronger in-out effects than listening to a speaker uttering the words, which speaks against a sound symbolism explanation. Informing theorizing also on the much more common manual approach-avoidance inductions, these findings show that approach-avoidance movements can elicit affect by activating only the starting and ending point of a spatial movement gradient, even involving differing muscles for these spots, respectively. Also, the present findings imply that the magnitude of the distance of the spatial approach-avoidance gradient matters (the larger the distance, the larger the affective response), and that such effects can be induced by mere observation (by only listening to a speaker).

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, November 11, 2016

Alternative medicine

Insurance Churning Rates For Low-Income Adults under Health Reform: Lower Than Expected But Still Harmful For Many

Benjamin Sommers et al.

Health Affairs, October 2016, Pages 1816-1824

Abstract:
Changes in insurance coverage over time, or “churning,” may have adverse consequences, but there has been little evidence on churning since implementation of the major coverage expansions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014. We explored the frequency and implications of churning through surveying 3,011 low-income adults in Kentucky, which used a traditional expansion of Medicaid; Arkansas, which chose a “private option” expansion that enrolled beneficiaries in private Marketplace plans; and Texas, which opted not to expand. We also compared 2015 churning rates in these states to survey data from 2013, before the coverage expansions. Nearly 25 percent of respondents in 2015 changed coverage during the previous twelve months — a rate lower than some previous predictions. We did not find significantly different churning rates in the three states over time. Common causes of churning were job-related changes and loss of eligibility for Medicaid or Marketplace subsidies. Churning was associated with disruptions in physician care and medication adherence, increased emergency department use, and worsening self-reported quality of care and health status. Even churning without gaps in coverage had negative effects. Churning remains a challenge for many Americans, and policies are needed to reduce its frequency and mitigate its negative impacts.

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Intertemporal Substitution in Health Care Demand: Evidence from the RAND Health Insurance Experiment

Haizhen Lin & Daniel Sacks

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Nonlinear cost-sharing in health insurance encourages intertemporal substitution be- cause patients can reduce their out-of-pocket costs by concentrating spending in years when they hit the deductible. We test for such intertemporal substitution using data from the RAND Health Insurance Experiment, where people were randomly assigned either to a free care plan or to a cost-sharing plan which had coinsurance up to a maximum dollar expenditure (MDE). Hitting the MDE — leading to an effective price of zero — has a bigger effect on monthly health care spending and utilization than does being in free care, because people who hit the MDE face high future and past prices. As a result, we estimate that sensitivity to short-lasting price changes is about twice as large as sensitivity to long-lasting changes. These findings help reconcile conflicting estimates of the price elasticity of demand for health care, and suggest that high deductible health plans may be less effective than hoped in controlling health care spending.

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Profitability and Market Value of Orphan Drug Companies: A Retrospective, Propensity-Matched Case-Control Study

Dyfrig Hughes & Jannine Poletti-Hughes

PLoS ONE, October 2016

Background: Concerns about the high cost of orphan drugs has led to questions being asked about the generosity of the incentives for development, and associated company profits.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective, propensity score matched study of publicly-listed orphan companies. Cases were defined as holders of orphan drug market authorisation in Europe or the USA between 2000–12. Control companies were selected based on their propensity for being orphan drug market authorisation holders. We applied system General Method of Moments to test whether companies with orphan drug market authorization are valued higher, as measured by the Tobin’s Q and market to book value ratios, and are more profitable based on return on assets, than non-orphan drug companies.

Results: 86 companies with orphan drug approvals in European (4), USA (61) or both (21) markets were matched with 258 controls. Following adjustment, orphan drug market authorization holders have a 9.6% (95% confidence interval, 0.6% to 18.7%) higher return on assets than non-orphan drug companies; Tobin’s Q was higher by 9.9% (1.0% to 19.7%); market to book value by 15.7% (3.1% to 30.0%) and operating profit by 516% (CI 19.8% to 1011%). For each additional orphan drug sold, return on assets increased by 11.1% (0.6% to 21.3%), Tobin’s Q by 2.7% (0.2% to 5.2%), and market to book value ratio by 5.8% (0.7% to 10.9%).

Conclusions: Publicly listed pharmaceutical companies that are orphan drug market authorization holders are associated with higher market value and greater profits than companies not producing treatments for rare diseases.

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Financial Incentives, Hospital Care, and Health Outcomes: Evidence from Fair Pricing Laws

Michael Batty & Benedic Ippolito

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
State laws that limit how much hospitals are paid by uninsured patients provide a unique opportunity to study how financial incentives of healthcare providers affect the care they deliver. We estimate the laws reduce payments from uninsured patients by 25–30 percent. Even though the uninsured represent a small portion of their business, hospitals respond by decreasing the amount of care delivered to these patients, without measurable effects on a broad set of quality metrics. The results show that hospitals can, and do, target care based on financial considerations, and suggest that altering provider financial incentives can generate more efficient care.

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State-Sponsored Health Insurance and State Economic and Employment Growth

Liam Malloy, Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz & Irwin Morris

Politics & Policy, October 2016, Pages 945–975

Abstract:
While there is a clear relationship between better health and better economic outcomes, the effects of increasing health insurance on the economy remain understudied. We employ two datasets, one on health insurance coverage in the contiguous 48 U.S. states and one for countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, to model the effect of expanding health insurance on state and country economic and employment growth over the last two decades. We find that increased health insurance coverage of the working age population, especially through government programs like Medicaid, is associated with faster gross domestic product and employment growth. However, we also find that these results may be contingent on controlling the per-enrollee cost of these programs. These findings are informative for future health insurance reforms both federally and in the U.S. states.

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Health insurance mandates in a model with consumer bankruptcy

Gilad Sorek & David Benjamin

Journal of Regulatory Economics, October 2016, Pages 233–250

Abstract:
We study insurance take-up choices by consumers who face medical expense risk and who know they can default on medical bills by filing for bankruptcy. For a given bankruptcy system, we explore the total and distributional welfare effects of health insurance mandates compared with the pre-mandate market equilibrium. We consider different combinations of premium subsidies and out-of-insurance penalties, confining attention to budget-neutral policies. We show that when insurance mandates are enforced only through penalties, the efficient take-up level may be incomplete. However, if mandates are also supported with premium subsidies, full insurance coverage is efficient and can also be Pareto improving. Such policies are consistent with the incentive structure for insurance take-up set in the ACA. Pareto improvement is possible because the legal requirement that medical providers dispense acute care on credit, together with the bankruptcy option, yields effective subsidies for medical care utilized by the uninsured. Those subsidy funds, however, can serve the initially uninsured better when they are given as ex ante subsidies on insurance premiums.

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Does Technology Substitute for Nurses? Staffing Decisions in Nursing Homes

Susan Lu, Huaxia Rui & Abraham Seidmann

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over the past ten years, many healthcare organizations have made significant investments in automating their clinical operations, mostly through the introduction of advanced information systems. Yet the impact of these investments on staffing is still not well understood. In this paper, we study the effect of IT-enabled automation on staffing decisions in healthcare facilities. Using unique nursing home IT data from 2006 to 2012, we find that the licensed nurse staffing level decreases by 5.8% in high-end nursing homes but increases by 7.6% in low-end homes after the adoption of automation technology. Our research explains this by analyzing the interplay of two competing effects of automation: the substitution of technology for labor and the leveraging of complementarity between technology and labor. We also find that increased automation improves the ratings on clinical quality by 6.9% and decreases admissions of less profitable residents by 14.7% on average. These observations are consistent with the predictions of an analytical staffing model that incorporates technology adoption and vertical differentiation. Overall, these findings suggest that the impact of automation technology on staffing decisions depends crucially on a facility’s vertical position in the local marketplace.

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Innovation Under Regulatory Uncertainty: Evidence from Medical Technology

Ariel Stern

Harvard Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
This paper explores how the regulatory approval process affects innovation incentives in medical technologies. Prior studies have found early mover regulatory advantages for drugs. I find the opposite for medical devices, where pioneer entrants spend 34 percent (7.2 months) longer than follow-on entrants in regulatory approval. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the cost of a delay of this length is upwards of 7 percent of the total cost of bringing a new high-risk device to market. Considering potential explanations, I find that approval times are largely unrelated to technological novelty, but are meaningfully reduced by the publication of objective regulatory guidelines. Finally, I consider how the regulatory process affects small firms' market entry patterns and find that small firms are less likely to be pioneers in new device markets, a fact consistent with relatively higher costs of doing so for more financially constrained firms.

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Detecting Potential Overbilling in Medicare Reimbursement via Hours Worked

Hanming Fang & Qing Gong

American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We propose a novel and easy-to-implement approach to detect potential overbilling based on the hours worked implied by the service codes physicians submit to Medicare. Using the Medicare Part B Fee-for-Service (FFS) Physician Utilization and Payment Data in 2012 and 2013 released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, we construct estimates for physicians' hours spent on Medicare beneficiaries. We find that about 2,300 physicians, representing about 3 percent of those with 20 or more hours of Medicare Part B FFS services, have billed Medicare over 100 hours per week. We consider these implausibly long hours.

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Enforcement of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, 2005 to 2014

Sophie Terp et al.

Annals of Emergency Medicine, forthcoming

Methods: We obtained a comprehensive list of all EMTALA investigations conducted between 2005 and 2014 directly from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) through a Freedom of Information Act request. Characteristics of EMTALA investigations and resulting citation for violations during the study period are described.

Results: Between 2005 and 2014, there were 4,772 investigations, of which 2,118 (44%) resulted in citations for EMTALA deficiencies at 1,498 (62%) of 2,417 hospitals investigated. Investigations were conducted at 43% of hospitals with CMS provider agreements, and citations issued at 27%. On average, 9% of hospitals were investigated and 4.3% were cited for EMTALA violation annually. The proportion of hospitals subject to EMTALA investigation decreased from 10.8% to 7.2%, and citations from 5.3% to 3.2%, between 2005 and 2014. There were 3.9 EMTALA investigations and 1.7 citations per million emergency department (ED) visits during the study period.

Conclusion: We report the first national estimates of EMTALA enforcement activities in more than a decade. Although EMTALA investigations and citations were common at the hospital level, they were rare at the ED-visit level. CMS actively pursued EMTALA investigations and issued citations throughout the study period, with half of hospitals subject to EMTALA investigations and a quarter receiving a citation for EMTALA violation, although there was a declining trend in enforcement. Further investigation is needed to determine the effect of EMTALA on access to or quality of emergency care.

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The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act Evaluation Study: Impact on Specialty Behavioral Health Utilization and Expenditures among “Carve-Out” Enrollees

Susan Ettner et al.

Journal of Health Economics, December 2016, Pages 131–143

Abstract:
Interrupted time series with and without controls was used to evaluate whether the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) and its Interim Final Rule increased the probability of specialty behavioral health treatment and levels of utilization and expenditures among patients receiving treatment. Linked insurance claims, eligibility, plan and employer data from 2008-13 were used to estimate segmented regression analyses, allowing for level and slope changes during the transition (2010) and post-MHPAEA (2011-13) periods. The sample included 1,812,541 individuals ages 27-64 (49,968,367 person-months) in 10,010 Optum “carve-out” plans. Two-part regression models with Generalized Estimating Equations were used to estimate expenditures by payer and outpatient, intermediate and inpatient service use. We found little evidence that MHPAEA increased utilization significantly, but somewhat more robust evidence that costs shifted from patients to plans. Thus the primary impact of MHPAEA among carve-out enrollees may have been a reduction in patient financial burden.

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Competitive Effects of Scope of Practice Restrictions: Public Health or Public Harm?

Sara Markowitz et al.

NBER Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
The demand for health care and healthcare professionals is predicted to grow significantly over the next decade. Securing an adequate health care workforce is of primary importance to ensure the health and wellbeing of the population in an efficient manner. Occupational licensing laws and related restrictions on scope of practice (SOP) are features of the market for healthcare professionals and are also controversial. At issue is a balance between protecting the public health and removing anticompetitive barriers to entry and practice. In this paper, we examine the controversy surrounding SOP restrictions for certified nurse midwives (CNMs). We use the variation in SOP laws governing CNM practice that has occurred over time in a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the effect of the laws on the markets for CNMs and their services, and on related maternal and infant outcomes. We focus on SOP laws that pertain to physician oversight requirements and prescribing rules, and examine the effects of SOP laws in geographic areas designated as medically underserved. Our findings indicate that SOP laws are neither helpful nor harmful in regards to maternal behaviors and infant health outcomes, but states that allow CNMs to practice with no SOP-based barriers to care have lower rates of induced labor and Cesarean section births. We discuss the implications of these findings for the policy debate surrounding SOP restrictions and for health care costs.

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Emergency Department Return Visits Resulting in Admission: Do They Reflect Quality of Care?

John Cheng et al.

American Journal of Medical Quality, November/December 2016, Pages 541-551

Abstract:
Prior studies have suggested that emergency department (ED) return visits resulting in admission may be a more robust quality indicator than all 72-hour returns. The objective was to evaluate factors that contribute to admission within 72 hours of ED discharge. Each return visit resulting in admission was independently reviewed by 3 physicians. Analysis was by descriptive statistics. Of 45 071 ED discharges, 4.1% returned within 72 hours; 0.96% returned for related reasons and were admitted to wards (91.2%), intensive care units (6.5%), or operating rooms (1.2%). Management was acceptable in 92.6%, suboptimal in 7.4%. Admissions were illness (94.9%), patient (1.6%), and physician related (3.5%). Almost all admissions within 72 hours after ED discharge are illness related, including all intensive care unit admissions and the majority of operating room admissions. Deficiencies in ED care are rarely the reason for admission on return. ED return visits resulting in admission may not be reflective of ED quality of care.

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Rethinking Thirty-Day Hospital Readmissions: Shorter Intervals Might Be Better Indicators Of Quality Of Care

David Chin et al.

Health Affairs, October 2016, Pages 1867-1875

Abstract:
Public reporting and payment programs in the United States have embraced thirty-day readmissions as an indicator of between-hospital variation in the quality of care, despite limited evidence supporting this interval. We examined risk-standardized thirty-day risk of unplanned inpatient readmission at the hospital level for Medicare patients ages sixty-five and older in four states and for three conditions: acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia. The hospital-level quality signal captured in readmission risk was highest on the first day after discharge and declined rapidly until it reached a nadir at seven days, as indicated by a decreasing intracluster correlation coefficient. Similar patterns were seen across states and diagnoses. The rapid decay in the quality signal suggests that most readmissions after the seventh day postdischarge were explained by community- and household-level factors beyond hospitals’ control. Shorter intervals of seven or fewer days might improve the accuracy and equity of readmissions as a measure of hospital quality for public accountability.

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Association Between Medicare Hospital Readmission Penalties and 30-Day Combined Excess Readmission and Mortality

Ahmad Abdul-Aziz et al.

JAMA Cardiology, forthcoming

Importance: US hospitals receive financial penalties for excess risk–standardized 30-day readmissions and mortality in Medicare patients. Under current policy, readmission prevention is incentivized over 10-fold more than mortality reduction.

Objective: To determine how penalties for US hospitals would change if policy equally weighted 30-day readmissions and mortality.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Publicly available hospital-level data for fiscal year 2014 was obtained, including excess readmission ratio (ERR; risk-standardized predicted over expected 30-day readmissions) and 30-day mortality rates for heart failure, pneumonia, and acute myocardial infarction, as well as readmission penalties (as percent of Medicare Diagnosis Group payments). An excess mortality ratio (EMR) was calculated by dividing the risk-standardized predicted mortality by the national average mortality. Case-weighted aggregate ERR (ERRAGG) and EMR (EMRAGG) were calculated, and an excess combined outcome ratio (ECORAGG) was created by averaging ERRAGG and EMRAGG. We examined associations between readmission penalties, ERRAGG, EMRAGG, and ECORAGG. Analysis of variance was used to compare readmission penalties in hospitals with concordant (both ratios >1 or <1) and discordant performance by ERRAGG and ECORAGG.

Results: In 1963 US hospitals with complete data, readmission penalties closely tracked excess readmissions (r = 0.81; P < .001), but were minimally and inversely related with excess mortality (r = −0.12; P < .001) and only modestly correlated with excess combined readmission and mortality (r = 0.36; P < .001). Using hospitals with concordant ERRAGG and ECORAGG as the reference group, 17% of hospitals had an ECORAGG ratio less than 1 (ie, superior combined mortality/readmission outcome) with an ERRAGG ratio greater than 1, and received higher mean (SD) readmission penalties (0.41% [0.28%] vs 0.29% [0.37%]; P < .001); 16% of US hospitals had an ECORAGG ratio of greater than 1 (ie, inferior combined mortality/readmission outcome) with an ERRAGG ratio less than 1, and received minimal mean (SD) readmission penalties (0.08% [0.12%]; P < .001 for comparison with reference).

Conclusions and Relevance: In fiscal year 2014, financial penalties for one-third of US hospitals would have been substantially altered if 30-day readmission and mortality were considered equally important. Under most circumstances, patients would rather avoid death than rehospitalization. Current Medicare financial penalties do not meet the goals of aligning incentives and fairly reimbursing hospitals for patient-centered outcomes.

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Association Between Physician Teamwork and Health System Outcomes After Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

John Hollingsworth et al.

Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, forthcoming

Background: Patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) must often see multiple providers dispersed across many care locations. To test whether teamwork (assessed with the bipartite clustering coefficient) among these physicians is a determinant of surgical outcomes, we examined national Medicare data from patients undergoing CABG.

Methods and Results: Among Medicare beneficiaries who underwent CABG between 2008 and 2011, we mapped relationships between all physicians who treated them during their surgical episodes, including both surgeons and nonsurgeons. After aggregating across CABG episodes in a year to construct the physician social networks serving each health system, we then assessed the level of physician teamwork in these networks with the bipartite clustering coefficient. Finally, we fit a series of multivariable regression models to evaluate associations between a health system’s teamwork level and its 60-day surgical outcomes. We observed substantial variation in the level of teamwork between health systems performing CABG (SD for the bipartite clustering coefficient was 0.09). Although health systems with high and low teamwork levels treated beneficiaries with comparable comorbidity scores, these health systems differed over several sociocultural and healthcare capacity factors (eg, physician staff size and surgical caseload). After controlling for these differences, health systems with higher teamwork levels had significantly lower 60-day rates of emergency department visit, readmission, and mortality.

Conclusions: Health systems with physicians who tend to work together in tightly-knit groups during CABG episodes realize better surgical outcomes. As such, delivery system reforms focused on building teamwork may have positive effects on surgical care.

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Why Don't Commercial Health Plans Use Prospective Payment?

Laurence Baker et al.

NBER Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
One of the key terms in contracts between hospitals and insurers is how the parties apportion the financial risk of treating unexpectedly costly patients. “Prospective” payment contracts give hospitals a lump-sum amount, depending on the medical condition of the patient, with limited adjustment for the level of services provided. We use data from the Medicare Prospective Payment System and commercial insurance plans covering the nonelderly through the Health Care Cost Institute to measure the extent of prospective payment in 303 metropolitan statistical areas during 2008-12. We report three key findings. First, commercial insurance payments are less prospective than Medicare payments. Second, the extent of prospective payment in commercial insurance varies more than in Medicare, both across hospitals and geographic areas. Third, differences in prospective payment across hospitals are positively associated with the extent of hospital competition, the share of the hospital’s commercially insured patients covered by managed-care insurance, and the share of the hospital’s patients covered by Medicare’s Prospective Payment System.

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ACOs Holding Commercial Contracts Are Larger And More Efficient Than Noncommercial ACOs

David Peiris et al.

Health Affairs, October 2016, Pages 1849-1856

Abstract:
Accountable care organizations (ACOs) have diverse contracting arrangements and have displayed wide variation in their performance. Using data from national surveys of 399 ACOs, we examined differences between the 228 commercial ACOs (those with commercial payer contracts) and the 171 noncommercial ACOs (those with only public contracts, such as with Medicare or Medicaid). Commercial ACOs were significantly larger and more integrated with hospitals, and had lower benchmark expenditures and higher quality scores, compared to noncommercial ACOs. Among all of the ACOs, there was low uptake of quality and efficiency activities. However, commercial ACOs reported more use of disease monitoring tools, patient satisfaction data, and quality improvement methods than did noncommercial ACOs. Few ACOs reported having high-level performance monitoring capabilities. About two-thirds of the ACOs had established processes for distributing any savings accrued, and these ACOs allocated approximately the same amount of savings to the ACOs themselves, participating member organizations, and physicians. Our findings demonstrate that ACO delivery systems remain at a nascent stage. Structural differences between commercial and noncommercial ACOs are important factors to consider as public policy efforts continue to evolve.

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Are Patients Patient? Choosing Emergency Care under Universal Healthcare

Diwas Singh, Sriram Venkataraman & Tongil 'TI' Kim

Emory University Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
We study a natural policy experiment - the Massachusetts healthcare reform law - to examine whether universal healthcare impacts patient choice. We assemble a novel data set that enables us to track the individual-level ED visits of previously uninsured patients over time. The data set allows us to examine whether obtaining insurance (as stipulated by the policy’s individual mandate) leads these newly insured patients to alter their hospital choice. We develop an econometric model of patient choice to characterize the drivers of ED volume redistribution and find that a large proportion of patients switch to a new hospital upon obtaining health insurance. In particular, safety-net hospitals (which have historically catered to the uninsured) lose market share of these newly insured patients. Our findings have significant implications for patients, hospitals, payers and policy makers.

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Increased Emergency Department Use in Illinois After Implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Scott Dresden et al.

Annals of Emergency Medicine, forthcoming

Methods: Using statewide hospital administrative data from 2011 through 2015 from 201 nonfederal Illinois hospitals for patients aged 18 to 64 years, mean monthly ED visits were compared before and after ACA implementation by disposition from the ED and primary payer. Visit data were combined with 2010 to 2014 census insurance estimates to compute payer-specific ED visit rates. Interrupted time-series analyses tested changes in ED visit rates and ED hospitalization rates by insurance type after ACA implementation.

Results: Average monthly ED visit volume increased by 14,080 visits (95% confidence interval [CI] 4,670 to 23,489), a 5.7% increase, after ACA implementation. Changes by payer were as follows: uninsured decreased by 24,158 (95% CI −27,037 to −21,279), Medicaid increased by 28,746 (95% CI 23,945 to 33,546), and private insurance increased by 9,966 (95% 6,241 to 13,690). The total monthly ED visit rate increased by 1.8 visits per 1,000 residents (95% CI 0.6 to 3.0). The monthly ED visit rate decreased by 8.7 visit per 1,000 uninsured residents (95% CI −11.1 to −6.3) and increased by 10.2 visit per 1,000 Medicaid beneficiaries (95% CI 4.4 to 16.1) and 1.3 visits per 1,000 privately insured residents (95% CI 0.6 to 1.9). After adjusting for baseline trends and season, these changes remained statistically significant. The total number of hospitalizations through the ED was unchanged.

Conclusion: ED visits by adults aged 18 to 64 years in Illinois increased after ACA health insurance expansion. The increase in total ED visits was driven by an increase in visits resulting in discharge from the ED. A large post-ACA increase in Medicaid visits and a modest increase in privately insured visits outpaced a large reduction in ED visits by uninsured patients. These changes are larger than can be explained by population changes alone and are significantly different from trends in ED use before ACA implementation.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Underrepresentation

Bringing the Boss's Politics In: Supervisor Political Ideology and the Gender Gap in Earnings

Forrest Briscoe & Aparna Joshi

Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The gender gap in earnings and rewards remains persistent across many professional and managerial work contexts. In these settings, where there are few objective criteria for performance and organizational mechanisms are weak, we propose that personal political values can serve as a powerful influence on whether supervisors reduce or enhance inequalities in performance-based rewards. We develop theory about how political liberalism versus conservatism affects supervisors' perceptions and allocative decision making. Combining internal personnel and billings data with publicly-available political donation records in a large law firm, we test the effect of political ideology among supervising law firm partners on the performance-based bonuses awarded to male and female subordinate lawyers. We find the male-female gender gap in performance-based pay is reduced for professional workers tied to liberal supervisors, relative to conservative supervisors. We further find this political ideology effect increases for workers with greater seniority in the organization. Our findings contribute to an understanding of the determinants of the gender earnings gap, suggesting that in settings where managers have leeway over rewards and careers, their personal political beliefs have an important influence on outcomes for male and female workers.

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Soft Skills, Hard Skills, and the Black/White Wage Gap

Simon Fan, Xiangdong Wei & Junsen Zhang

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the relative importance of soft skills versus hard skills across occupations and its impact on the observed wage gap between Blacks and Whites in the United States. It posits that the Black/White pay gap may vary across occupations that require the use of different types of skills. We classify occupations into hard-skill intensive versus soft-skill intensive jobs using the skill content measures of different occupations from the Occupational Information Network (O*Net). We then use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) and Current Population Survey (CPS) to investigate the impact of job skill type on the wage gap. Consistent with our theoretical predictions, we show that this wage gap in white-collar jobs is smaller for hard-skills jobs than it is for soft-skills jobs. Moreover, we demonstrate that, in response to variations in the wage gap across different occupations, Blacks are more likely to self-select themselves into hard-skills jobs, ceteris paribus. This shows not only that discrimination against Blacks varies across occupations, but also that such discrimination induces the self-selection of Blacks into certain occupations. Moreover, this finding highlights the role played by co-worker/customer discrimination in explaining the racial wage gap in the U.S. labor market.

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Racial and Gender Discrimination in Transportation Network Companies

Yanbo Ge et al.

NBER Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
Passengers have faced a history of discrimination in transportation systems. Peer transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft present the opportunity to rectify long-standing discrimination or worsen it. We sent passengers in Seattle, WA and Boston, MA to hail nearly 1,500 rides on controlled routes and recorded key performance metrics. Results indicated a pattern of discrimination, which we observed in Seattle through longer waiting times for African American passengers - as much as a 35 percent increase. In Boston, we observed discrimination by Uber drivers via more frequent cancellations against passengers when they used African American-sounding names. Across all trips, the cancellation rate for African American sounding names was more than twice as frequent compared to white sounding names. Male passengers requesting a ride in low-density areas were more than three times as likely to have their trip canceled when they used a African American-sounding name than when they used a white-sounding name. We also find evidence that drivers took female passengers for longer, more expensive, rides in Boston. We observe that removing names from trip booking may alleviate the immediate problem but could introduce other pathways for unequal treatment of passengers.

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Upward Mobility and Discrimination: The Case of Asian Americans

Nathaniel Hilger

NBER Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
Asian Americans are the only non-white US racial group to experience long-term, institutional discrimination yet today exhibit high income. I reexamine this puzzle. I focus on California, where most Asians settled historically. Asians achieved extraordinary upward mobility relative to both blacks and whites for every cohort born in California since 1920. This mobility stemmed primarily from gains in earnings conditional on education, rather than unusual educational attainment. Historical test score data suggest that low initial earnings for Asians - unlike blacks - primarily reflected prejudice rather than skills. Asian history is consistent with the view that racial earnings gaps driven by contemporary prejudice do not persist in sufficiently competitive labor markets.

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Gender and choosing a STEM major in college: Femininity, masculinity, chilly climate, and occupational values

Richard Simon, Ashley Wagner & Brooke Killion

Journal of Research in Science Teaching, forthcoming

Abstract:
Masculinity and femininity have played a substantial role in how social scientists explain the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. The masculine culture of science is thought to be inconsistent with occupational values associated with feminine personalities, and to create a discriminatory academic environment for those who cannot adapt to it. However, there has been little systematic investigation into the extent to which masculine and feminine personality characteristics are actually correlated with STEM career outcomes, or how the effects of masculine and feminine personality characteristics on STEM career outcomes may be different when embodied in women compared to men. This study tests several hypotheses concerning the relationship of masculine and feminine personality characteristics to occupational values, perceptions of academic climate, and selection of a STEM major in college among a sample of 752 students enrolled at a major public university. We find little support for the hypothesis that masculine personality characteristics are especially rewarded in STEM majors. However, we also find that women pay a femininity penalty in STEM majors, while more abundant feminine personality traits in men render them more likely to major in a STEM field, after accounting for occupational values.

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The Relative Contribution of Subjective Office Referrals to Racial Disproportionality in School Discipline

Erik Girvan et al.

School Psychology Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
To improve our understanding of where to target interventions, the study examined the extent to which school discipline disproportionality between African American and White students was attributable to racial disparities in teachers' discretionary versus nondiscretionary decisions. The sample consisted of office discipline referral (ODR) records for 1,154,686 students enrolled in 1,824 U.S. schools. Analyses compared the relative contributions of disproportionality in ODRs for subjectively and objectively defined behaviors to overall disproportionality, controlling for relevant school characteristics. Results showed that disproportionality in subjective ODRs explained the vast majority of variance in total disproportionality. These findings suggest that providing educators with strategies to neutralize the effects of implicit bias, which is known to influence discretionary decisions and interpretations of ambiguous behaviors, may be a promising avenue for achieving equity in school discipline.

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Irregularly-shaped school attendance zones and racial integration

Salvatore Saporito

Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates how much the geographic shapes of school attendance zones within urban school districts are associated with levels of attendance zone racial segregation (while holding constant levels of residential segregation). Based on an analysis of 304 school districts, findings show that more irregularly-shaped school attendance zones are correlated with lower levels of racial segregation in attendance zones after accounting for residential segregation. In fact, not one school district contains both highly irregularly-shaped attendance zones and unusually high levels of attendance zone racial segregation - although there are several school districts with irregularly-shaped zones and unusually high levels of racial integration. These findings undermine recent claims that irregularly-shaped attendance zones generally serve to segregate students by race. In addition to these empirical findings, this paper introduces a variation of the spatial information theory segregation index View the MathML source that is useful for predicting segregation in school attendance zones and other types of geographic boundaries containing roughly equal populations.

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An Asymmetrical Portrait: Exploring Gendered Income Inequality in the Arts

Danielle Lindemann, Carly Rush & Steven Tepper

Social Currents, December 2016, Pages 332-348

Abstract:
While a large body of work has focused on gendered income inequalities in other fields, virtually no literature has explored this phenomenon within artistic careers. We use the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) - a nationwide survey of 33,801 individuals who have received degrees in the arts - to assess the gendered earnings gap for artists and for nonartists. We find that the gendered earnings gap is comparable for artists and nonartists, and that artistic careers are subject to some of the same social forces that drive disparity in other occupational realms. Yet in the arts, we do not find the wage penalty to motherhood that has been documented in virtually every other field. Broader implications for scholarship on gender and work, as well as suggestions for further research and policy, are discussed.

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How Prevalent Are Potentially Illegal Questions During Residency Interviews? A Follow-up Study of Applicants to All Specialties in the National Resident Matching Program

Gene Hern et al.

Academic Medicine, November 2016, Pages 1546-1553

Method: The authors surveyed all applicants from U.S. medical schools to residency programs in all specialties in 2012-2013. The survey included questions about the prevalence of potentially illegal questions, applicants' level of comfort with such questions, and whether such questions affected how applicants ranked programs. Descriptive statistics, tests of proportions, t tests, and logistic regression modeling were used to analyze the data.

Results: Of 21,457 eligible applicants, 10,976 (51.1%) responded to the survey. Overall, 65.9% (7,219/10,967) reported receiving at least one potentially illegal question. More female respondents reported being asked questions about gender (513/5,357 [9.6%] vs. 148/5,098 [2.9%]), marital status (2,895/5,283 [54.8%] vs. 2,592/4,990 [51.9%]), or plans for having children (889/5,241 [17.0%] vs. 521/4,931 [10.6%]) than male respondents (P < .001). Those in surgical specialties were more likely to have received a potentially illegal question than those in nonsurgical specialties (1,908/2,330 [81.9%] vs. 5,311/8,281 [64.1%]). Questions regarding their commitment to the program were reported by 15.5% (1,608/10,378) of respondents. Such potentially illegal questions negatively affected how respondents ranked programs.

Conclusions: Two-thirds of applicants reported being asked potentially illegal questions. More women than men reported receiving questions about marital status or family planning. Potentially illegal questions negatively influence how applicants perceive and rank programs. A formal interview code of conduct or interviewer training could help to address these issues.

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Organizational Identity Safety Cue Transfers

Kimberly Chaney, Diana Sanchez & Jessica Remedios

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, November 2016, Pages 1564-1576

Abstract:
Traditionally, researchers have focused on identity-congruent safety cues such as the effect of gender diversity awards on women's sense of inclusion in organizations. The present studies investigate, for the first time, whether identity safety cues (e.g., organizational diversity structures) aimed at one stigmatized group transfer via perceptions of the organization's ideology (social dominance orientation), resulting in identity safety for individuals with stigmatized identities incongruent with the cue. Across four studies, we demonstrate that White women experience identity safety from organizational diversity structures aimed at racial minorities (Studies 1 and 2), and men of color experience identity safety from organizational diversity structures aimed at women (Study 3). Furthermore, while White men similarly perceive the organization's ideology, this does not promote identity safety (Study 4). Thus, we argue that individuals view organizations commended for diversity as promoting more egalitarian attitudes broadly, resulting in the transference of identity safety cues for stigmatized individuals.

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The Importance of Minority Teachers: Student Perceptions of Minority Versus White Teachers

Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng & Peter Halpin

Educational Researcher, October 2016, Pages 407-420

Abstract:
The demographic divide between teachers and students is of growing public concern. However, few studies have explicitly addressed the common argument that students, and particularly minority students, have more favorable perceptions of minority versus White teachers. Using data from the Measure of Effective Teaching study, we find that students perceive minority teachers more favorably than White teachers. There is mixed evidence that race matching is linked with more favorable student perceptions. These findings underscore the importance of minority teacher recruitment and retention.

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Economic Freedom and Racial Differences in Entrepreneurship: Evidence from US States

John Deskins & Amanda Ross

Public Finance Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the relationship between economic freedom and black versus white entrepreneurship rates. An extensive literature examines why black entrepreneurship rates lag behind white, focusing on socioeconomic characteristics, intergenerational knowledge transfers, work experience, and credit access. Another literature examines how regulations affect entrepreneurial behavior, finding that a more heavily regulated economy deters start-ups. We combine these literatures and use the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity and the Economic Freedom of North America Index to examine whether state-level variation in economic freedom causes differences in entrepreneurial behavior across races. Overall, we find that blacks and whites differ in their entrepreneurial response to public policy. One interesting finding is that more economically free labor markets, due primarily by a lower minimum wage, diminish black entrepreneurship but does not affect whites. This is important if an unintended consequence of the minimum wage is to reduce black entrepreneurship, thereby increasing the black-white entrepreneurship gap.

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Affirmation effects on math scores: The importance of high school track

Amanda Bancroft, Jenifer Bratter & Kristie Rowley

Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Stereotype threat has been shown to affect academic performance of minority racial groups. Minority girls may experience the burdens of both race and gender - a "double bind" theorized to affect the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. A randomized controlled trial focused on alleviating stereotype threat in three high schools in a large U.S. metro demonstrates the effects of affirmative writing interventions, which have previously shown positive effects for minority and female students. Results indicate effects for these groups were insignificant. However, results also show that student track is highly significant at p < 0.001, and interactive analyses suggest that the intervention may help alleviate threat for higher-achieving students.

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Shifting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Stereotypes? Considering the Role of Peer and Teacher Gender

Catherine Riegle-Crumb, Chelsea Moore & Jenny Buontempo

Journal of Research on Adolescence, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study builds on research on the power of counter-stereotypical cues, as well as intergroup contact theory, to consider whether interactions with a female teacher and female peers in a high school engineering classroom decrease male students' gender/science, technology, engineering, and math stereotypical beliefs and whether this varies according to the initial strength of their stereotypical views. Analyses reveal that among male students who initially reject stereotypes of male superiority, more female peers in the classroom leads to a further decrease in their stereotypical views by the end of the year. In contrast, boys who held strong stereotypical beliefs became less stereotypical by the end of the course when they had a female teacher. Implications for future research and current educational reforms are discussed.

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College Enrollment and Completion Among Nationally Recognized High-Achieving Hispanic Students

Oded Gurantz, Michael Hurwitz & Jonathan Smith

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
Hispanic high school graduates have lower college completion rates than academically similar white students. As Hispanic students have been theorized to be more constrained in the college search and selection process, one potential policy lever is to increase the set of colleges to which these students apply and attend. In this paper, we investigate the impacts of the College Board's National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP), which recognizes the highest-scoring 11th-grade Hispanic students on the PSAT/NMSQT, as a mechanism of improving college choice and completion. The program not only informs students about their relative ability, but it also enables colleges to identify, recruit, and offer enrollment incentives. Overall, we find that the program has strong effects on college attendance patterns, shifting students from two-year to four-year institutions, as well as to colleges that are out-of-state and public flagships, all areas where Hispanic attendance has lagged. NHRP shifts the geographic distribution of where students earn their degree, and increases overall bachelor's completion among Hispanic students who traditionally have had lower rates of success. These results demonstrate that college outreach can have significant impacts on the enrollment choices of Hispanic students and can serve as a policy lever for colleges looking to draw academically talented students.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Court battle

Perceived Masculinity Predicts U.S. Supreme Court Outcomes

Daniel Chen, Yosh Halberstam & Alan Yu

PLoS ONE, October 2016

Abstract:
Previous studies suggest a significant role of language in the court room, yet none has identified a definitive correlation between vocal characteristics and court outcomes. This paper demonstrates that voice-based snap judgments based solely on the introductory sentence of lawyers arguing in front of the Supreme Court of the United States predict outcomes in the Court. In this study, participants rated the opening statement of male advocates arguing before the Supreme Court between 1998 and 2012 in terms of masculinity, attractiveness, confidence, intelligence, trustworthiness, and aggressiveness. We found significant correlation between vocal characteristics and court outcomes and the correlation is specific to perceived masculinity even when judgment of masculinity is based only on less than three seconds of exposure to a lawyer’s speech sample. Specifically, male advocates are more likely to win when they are perceived as less masculine. No other personality dimension predicts court outcomes. While this study does not aim to establish any causal connections, our findings suggest that vocal characteristics may be relevant in even as solemn a setting as the Supreme Court of the United States.

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Judging Expertise: Gender and the Negotiation of Expert Authority in Courts

Timothy O’Brien

Social Currents, December 2016, Pages 315-331

Abstract:
This article develops a framework for understanding the role of gender in negotiations of expert authority and tests the new approach with an analysis of legal disputes about expert witness credibility (N = 435). Content-coded data from patent infringement, civil rights, and medical malpractice lawsuits in U.S. district courts indicate that lawyers’ challenges to expert witnesses’ credibility reflect widely held cultural beliefs about gender and certain kinds of expertise: whereas women are more likely than men to be challenged as unqualified to testify, men are more likely than women to be contested as irrelevant to the case. Furthermore, although highly credentialed women and men have equal chances of overcoming credibility challenges, women with fewer credentials are substantially more likely than men to be excluded from court. Overall, findings suggest that women must clear a higher bar than men to demonstrate their credibility as expert witnesses. Moreover, this study indicates that disputes about expert witness credibility are a site where stereotypes about gender and expertise are reproduced in the justice system.

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Women’s Representation in the Highest Court: A Comparative Analysis of the Appointment of Female Justices

Melody Valdini & Christopher Shortell

Political Research Quarterly, December 2016, Pages 865-876

Abstract:
The presence of women justices in the highest constitutional courts varies significantly across countries, yet there is little existing research that engages this substantial cross-national variation. Using an original data set of women’s representation in the constitutional courts in fifty democracies combined with qualitative case studies, we assess the effect of the selection mechanism on this variation and find that the existence of a “sheltered” versus “exposed” selection mechanism is a critical determinant of women’s presence. That is, when the selectors are sheltered from electoral accountability, they are less likely to select women as judges because they do not benefit from credit claiming. When the selectors are exposed and can claim credit, however, the unique traits and visibility of the highest court generate an incentive to appoint women.

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Emotional Judges and Unlucky Juveniles

Ozkan Eren & Naci Mocan

NBER Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
Employing the universe of juvenile court decisions in a U.S. state between 1996 and 2012, we analyze the effects of emotional shocks associated with unexpected outcomes of football games played by a prominent college team in the state. We investigate the behavior of judges, the conduct of whom should, by law, be free of personal biases and emotions. We find that unexpected losses increase disposition (sentence) lengths assigned by judges during the week following the game. Unexpected wins, or losses that were expected to be close contests ex-ante, have no impact. The effects of these emotional shocks are asymmetrically borne by black defendants. We present evidence that the results are not influenced by defendant or attorney behavior or by defendants’ economic background. Importantly, the results are driven by judges who have received their bachelor’s degrees from the university with which the football team is affiliated. Different falsification tests and a number of auxiliary analyses demonstrate the robustness of the findings. These results provide evidence for the impact of emotions in one domain on a behavior in a completely unrelated domain among a uniformly highly-educated group of individuals (judges), with decisions involving high stakes (sentence lengths). They also point to the existence of a subtle and previously-unnoticed capricious application of sentencing.

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The Unintended Impact of Pretrial Detention on Case Outcomes: Evidence from NYC Arraignments

Emily Leslie & Nolan Pope

University of Chicago Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
In the United States, over 400,000 individuals are in jail each day waiting for their criminal cases to be resolved. The majority of these individuals are detained pretrial due to the inability to post low levels of bail (less than $3,000). We estimate the impact of being detained pretrial on the likelihood of an individual being convicted or pleading guilty, and their sentence length, using data on nearly a million misdemeanor and felony cases in New York City from 2009 to 2013. Causal effects are identified using variation across arraignment judges in their propensities to detain defendants. We find that being detained increases the probability of conviction by causing individuals to plead guilty more often. Because pretrial detention is driven by failure to post bail, these adverse effect disproportionately hurt low-income individuals.

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The (Un)reliability of Alibi Corroborators: Failure to Recognize Faces of Briefly Encountered Strangers Puts Innocent Suspects at Risk

Steve Charman et al.

Behavioral Sciences & the Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
Some innocent suspects rely on the memory of strangers to corroborate their alibis. However, no research has examined whether such potential alibi corroborators can accurately recognize an innocent suspect with whom they previously interacted. We developed a novel alibi corroboration paradigm in which undergraduate students (representing innocent suspects who would later provide an alibi) interacted with naïve university employees (representing potential alibi corroborators). Each student briefly interacted with a different naïve university employee (n = 60), and were also each yoked to a different employee with whom they did not interact (n = 60). Employees were presented 24 hours later with either a single photograph of the student or a six-person array containing a photograph of the student and were asked if they recognized anyone. The majority of employees failed to make a correct recognition of the student. False recognitions, however, were rare. Students exhibited overconfidence that they would be recognized. Findings imply that innocent suspects who rely on strangers to corroborate their alibis may be at risk.

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Mock jurors’ expectations regarding the psychological harm experienced by rape victims as a function of rape prototypicality

Kerri Pickel & Rachel Gentry

Psychology, Crime & Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examined mock jurors’ judgments in a rape case that was either prototypical (late-night assault by a stranger in a public place) or non-prototypical (daytime assault by an acquaintance in a private home). We also varied the psychological harm experienced by the victim as a result of the rape (mild anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)). We hypothesized that participants’ expectations regarding the level of harm the victim is likely to experience would mediate the effect of harm level on ratings of the victim’s credibility, and this indirect effect would be contingent on the prototypicality of the case. In a pilot experiment we demonstrated that people expect prototypical rape cases to be more traumatic for victims than non-prototypical cases. In the main experiment, and as predicted, participants in the Prototypical condition expected the victim to develop PTSD more than mild anxiety, but Non-Prototypical condition participants expected the opposite. In addition, a level of harm that was consistent rather than inconsistent with their expectations led participants to rate the victim as more credible; they also rated her as less responsible for what happened, and they thought the defendant was more likely guilty and that he should be incarcerated for a longer period of time.

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The Impact of Neighborhood Status on Imprisonment for Firearm Offenses

Joshua Williams & Richard Rosenfeld

Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, November 2016, Pages 383-400

Abstract:
Burgeoning research on criminal case processing has revealed persistent effects of the race and ethnicity of defendants on case outcomes up to and including imprisonment. But prior studies have devoted relatively little attention to how the characteristics of the communities in which crimes are committed affect imprisonment and antecedent legal outcomes such as bail amount and pretrial detention. Guided by the group threat and focal concerns perspectives, the current study examines the impact of community racial and socioeconomic composition on the likelihood that African American male defendants are sentenced to prison rather than probation for firearm offenses in a large Midwestern city. We find that defendants arrested in neighborhoods with higher proportions of non-poor residents received higher bail and, in turn, spent more time in jail and were more likely to be sentenced to prison than those arrested in lower status neighborhoods. We find no significant effect of neighborhood racial composition on bail, pretrial confinement, or imprisonment. We recommend that the community context of crime receive high priority in future research on the impact of extralegal factors on imprisonment.

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Evaluating the Effects of Multiple Opinion Rationales on Supreme Court Legitimacy

Chris Bonneau et al.

American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The literature on the U.S. Supreme Court has paid substantial attention to the perceived legitimacy of the Court’s decisions. However, much less attention has been paid to the perceived legitimacy of the reasons the Court provides for its opinions. We design two experiments to understand how the public perceives opinion content. Unlike prior studies, we take it as a given that the Court uses legal reasons in its decisions. This offers us a baseline by which to compare departures from these legal reasons. We find that extralegal reasons, when paired with legal reasons, do nothing to harm the legitimacy of the Court. Furthermore, we find that even with a lack of legal reasons, the use of extralegal reasons does not harm the legitimacy of the Court, even among those who find that these reasons are inappropriate for the Court to use.

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Evidentiary, Extraevidentiary, and Deliberation Process Predictors of Real Jury Verdicts

Dennis Devine et al.

Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
In contrast to the extensive literature based on mock jurors, large-sample studies of decision making by real juries are relatively rare. In this field study, we examined relationships between jury verdicts and variables representing 3 classes of potential determinants — evidentiary, extraevidentiary, and deliberation process — using a sample of 114 criminal jury trials. Posttrial data were collected from 11 presiding judges, 31 attorneys, and 367 jurors using a Web-based questionnaire. The strength of the prosecution’s evidence was strongly related to the occurrence of a conviction, whereas most extraevidentiary and deliberation process variables were only weakly to modestly related in bivariate form and when the prosecution’s evidence strength was controlled. Notable exceptions to this pattern were jury demographic diversity as represented by the number of different race-gender subgroups (e.g., Black males) present in the jury, and several deliberation process variables reflecting advocacy for acquittal (e.g., presence of an identifiable proacquittal faction within the jury and proacquittal advocacy by the foreperson). Variables reflecting advocacy for conviction were essentially unrelated to jury verdict. Sets of extraevidentiary and deliberation variables were each able to modestly improve the explanation of jury verdicts over prosecution evidence strength in multivariate models. This study highlights the predictive efficacy of prosecution evidence strength with respect to jury verdicts, as well as the potential importance of jury demographic diversity and advocacy for acquittal during deliberation.

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The Influence of Perpetrator Exposure Time and Weapon Presence/Timing on Eyewitness Confidence and Accuracy

Curt Carlson et al.

Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Crimes can occur in a matter of seconds, with little time available for an eyewitness to encode a perpetrator's face. The presence of a weapon can further exacerbate this situation. Few studies have featured mock crimes of short duration, especially with a weapon manipulation. We conducted an experiment to investigate the impact of weapon presence and short perpetrator exposure times (3 vs. 10 seconds) on eyewitness confidence and accuracy. We found that recall concerning the perpetrator was worse when a weapon was present, replicating the weapon focus effect. However, there was no effect on eyewitness identification accuracy. Calibration analyses revealed that all conditions produced a strong confidence–accuracy relationship. Confidence–accuracy characteristic curves illustrated almost perfect accuracy for suspect identifications at the highest levels of confidence. We conclude that weapon presence during a brief crime does not necessarily result in negative consequences for either eyewitness identification accuracy or the confidence–accuracy relationship.

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A Biphasic Process of Resistance Among Suspects: The Mobilization and Decline of Self-Regulatory Resources

Stephanie Madon et al.

Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conducted two experiments to test whether police interrogation elicits a biphasic process of resistance from suspects. According to this process, the initial threat of police interrogation mobilizes suspects to resist interrogative influence in a manner akin to a fight or flight response, but suspects’ protracted self-regulation of their behavior during subsequent questioning increases their susceptibility to interrogative influence in the long-run. In Experiment 1 (N = 316), participants who were threatened by an accusation of misconduct exhibited responses indicative of mobilization and more strongly resisted social pressure to acquiesce to suggestive questioning than did participants who were not accused. In Experiment 2 (N = 160), self-regulatory decline that was induced during questioning about misconduct undermined participants’ ability to resist suggestive questioning. These findings support a theoretical account of the dynamic and temporal nature of suspects’ responses to police interrogation over the course of questioning.

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Reducing False Guilty Pleas and Wrongful Convictions through Exoneree Compensation

Murat Mungan & Jonathan Klick

Journal of Law and Economics, February 2016, Pages 173-189

Abstract:
A great concern with plea bargains is that they may induce innocent individuals to plead guilty to crimes they have not committed. In this article, we identify schemes that reduce the number of innocent pleas without affecting guilty individuals’ plea-bargaining incentives. Large compensations for exonerees reduce expected costs associated with wrongful determinations of guilt in trial and thereby reduce the number of innocent pleas. Any distortion in guilty individuals’ incentives to take plea bargains caused by these compensations can be offset by a small increase in the discounts offered for pleading guilty. Although there are many statutory-reform proposals for increasing exoneree compensation, no one has yet noted this desirable separating effect of compensations. We argue that such reforms are likely to achieve this result without causing losses in deterrence.

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Effects of a Proven Error on Evaluations of Witness Testimony

Tiffany Lavis & Neil Brewer

Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Witnesses frequently make an error when reporting events they have observed. Although some error in witness reports is to be expected and does not mean the testimony as a whole is flawed, an important question is how such an error affects judgments of credibility of the witness. In 2 experiments we investigated the impact of a single demonstrated (probative or nonprobative) detail inaccuracy on judgments of the likely reliability of witness memory. Potential mediators (witness dishonesty and forgetfulness) were examined to explain the relationship between inaccuracy and perceived reliability of the witness’s memory report. The presence of a single inaccuracy affected observers’ judgments of the reliability of the other elements of testimony and the testimony as a whole. There was also some evidence that the less probative the detail the more other elements of the reported account of the event were questioned. The mediation analyses showed that a single testimonial error contributed to the witness being perceived as dishonest or forgetful, attributions that in turn shaped perceptions of witness credibility. These findings suggest that legal professionals should be cautious when highlighting an isolated testimonial error given the potential for it to suggest more widespread testimonial unreliability.

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Are eyewitness accounts biased? Evaluating false memories for crimes involving ingroup or outgroup conflict

Alexis Carpenter & Anne Krendl

Social Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Eyewitness testimony has been shown to be unreliable and susceptible to false memories. Whether eyewitness memory errors are influenced by the victim’s group membership (relative to both the eyewitness and perpetrator) impacts memory error is underexplored. The current study used complementary behavioral and neuroimaging approaches to test the hypothesis that intragroup conflict heightens participants’ susceptibility to subsequent false memories. Healthy young adults witnessed and later answered questions about events in which the perpetrator and victim were either 1) identified as ingroup members relative to each other and the eyewitness, 2) outgroup members relative to the eyewitness, but not each other, or 3) outgroup members relative to each other (Experiments 1a and 1b). When perpetrators and victims were ingroup members (intragroup conflict), participants showed heightened false memory rates. Moreover, false memories increased upon crime realization. Neuroimaging data analysis revealed that salient (as compared to ambiguous) intragroup conflict elicited heightened activation in neural regions associated with resolving cognitive conflict (anterior cingulate cortex; ACC). Increased functional connectivity between the ACC and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex was associated with subsequent false memories (Experiment 2). Results suggest that the social salience of the intragroup conflict may have been associated with participants’ increased susceptibility to false memories.

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It's not all black and white: A propensity score matched, multilevel examination of racial drug sentencing disparities

Richard Stringer & Melanie Holland

Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, Fall 2016, Pages 327-347

Abstract:
This study aims to alleviate some of the mixed findings throughout the literature on racial disparities in sentencing outcomes by utilizing propensity score matching and multilevel modeling to assess racial drug sentencing disparities in state courts from 2000–2012. The findings illustrate the effect of race on sentencing varies significantly across states, and aggregate factors impact this relationship. Specifically, although differential offending, minority population, and arrests do not alleviate disparities, they are moderators that explain variance across states. Finally, aggregate socioeconomic factors such as poverty and education are also significant moderators that indicate the importance of structural disadvantage in sentencing outcomes.

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Legal Uncertainty as a Welfare Enhancing Screen

Matthias Lang

European Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Consider legal uncertainty as uncertainty about the legality of a specific action. In particular, suppose that the threshold of legality is uncertain. I show that this legal uncertainty raises welfare. Legal uncertainty changes deterrence in opposite directions. The probability of conviction increases for firms below the threshold, while the probability of conviction decreases for firms above the threshold. Hence, legal uncertainty acts as a welfare enhancing screen and increases welfare. Legal uncertainty discourages some actions with low private benefits, while it encourages other actions with high private benefits.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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