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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Beaten

Self-image and schadenfreude: Pleasure at others' misfortune enhances satisfaction of basic human needs

Marco Brambilla & Paolo Riva

European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research tested whether observing the failure of another individual and experiencing schadenfreude (i.e., pleasure at others' misfortune) enhance the satisfaction of basic psychological needs in terms of self-esteem, control, belongingness, and meaningful existence. Considering hypothetical scenarios (Experiments 1 and 4), real-life experiences (Experiment 2), and ostensibly real interactions (Experiment 3), four experiments revealed that individuals reported higher levels of need satisfaction when another's setback occurred in a competitive circumstance rather than in a non-competitive circumstance. Moreover, the increased feeling of schadenfreude accounted for the effect of observing the misfortune befalling a competitor on the subsequent satisfaction of human needs. Results are discussed in terms of their theoretical implications for research on schadenfreude, and future research directions are outlined.

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Winner and loser effects in human competitions. Evidence from equally matched tennis players

Lionel Page & John Coates

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Animals winning an agonistic encounter are more likely to win their next encounter while losers are less likely, even when controlling for motivation and physical size. Do these winner and loser effects exist in human competitions? Drawing on a large database of professional tennis matches, we were able to control for players' ability and thereby test for winner and loser effects. We narrowed the database to matches between players who on average did not differ significantly in rank, and further to matches in which the first set was fought to a long tie-break. These closely fought matches present a natural experiment because players are assigned to treatment conditions – winning or losing a set – despite similar ability and performance. We found that among men, the winner of a closely fought tie-break had an approximate 60% chance of winning the second set, the loser a 40% chance. These effects did not exist among women, a finding consistent with the hypothesis that androgens mediate winner and loser effects. Our results may help in the design of competitions in sport as well as in work environments, where it may prove useful to either encourage winner effects or to attenuate their occasional adverse consequences.

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A Test of an Evolutionary Hypothesis of Violence against Women: The Case of Sex Ratio

Emily Stone

Letters on Evolutionary Behavioral Science, February 2017

Abstract:
A low sex ratio, where there are fewer men than women, has been associated with increasing rates of men’s same-sex aggression. This is surprising, given the relative surplus of mates and presumably lowered mate competition in low sex ratio societies. Two competing hypotheses — a “culture of violence” hypothesis and a functional, evolutionary hypothesis — may account for this finding. The current research tests which of these hypotheses explains another facet of men’s aggression — violence against women. Correlations supported an evolutionary perspective of violence against women: higher sex ratio societies, where women are scarce, were significantly more likely to be tolerant toward rape and were significantly more likely to aggress against wives. These results suggest refinement of a culture of violence perspective. They also replicate and extend previous research on sex ratio imbalances and men’s aggression toward women.

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The Impact of Degree of Exposure to Violent Video Games, Family Background, and Other Factors on Youth Violence

Whitney DeCamp & Christopher Ferguson

Journal of Youth and Adolescence, February 2017, Pages 388–400

Abstract:
Despite decades of study, no scholarly consensus has emerged regarding whether violent video games contribute to youth violence. Some skeptics contend that small correlations between violent game play and violence-related outcomes may be due to other factors, which include a wide range of possible effects from gender, mental health, and social influences. The current study examines this issue with a large and diverse (49 % white, 21 % black, 18 % Hispanic, and 12 % other or mixed race/ethnicity; 51 % female) sample of youth in eighth (n = 5133) and eleventh grade (n = 3886). Models examining video game play and violence-related outcomes without any controls tended to return small, but statistically significant relationships between violent games and violence-related outcomes. However, once other predictors were included in the models and once propensity scores were used to control for an underlying propensity for choosing or being allowed to play violent video games, these relationships vanished, became inverse, or were reduced to trivial effect sizes. These results offer further support to the conclusion that video game violence is not a meaningful predictor of youth violence and, instead, support the conclusion that family and social variables are more influential factors.

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An Examination of the Sibling Training Hypothesis for Disruptive Behavior in Early Childhood

Ella Daniel, André Plamondon & Jennifer Jenkins

Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sibling training for disruptive behavior (one sibling teaching another disruptive behavior) is examined during early childhood. We used a conservative, recently developed, statistical model to identify sibling training. Sibling training was operationalized as the cross-lagged association between earlier child behavior and later sibling behavior, and differentiated from other reasons that contribute to sibling similarity. A three-wave longitudinal study tracked 916 children (Mage = 3.46, SD = 2.23) in 397 families using multi-informant data. Evidence for sibling training was found. Earlier younger siblings’ disruptive behavior predicted later lower levels of older siblings’ disruptive behavior. Thus, the sibling training found in early childhood was producing greater dissimilarity, rather than similarity, on disruptive behavior.

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Preemptive strikes: Fear, hope, and defensive aggression

Nir Halevy

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, February 2017, Pages 224-237

Abstract:
Preemptive strikes are costly and harmful. Existing models of defensive aggression focus narrowly on the role fear plays in motivating preemptive strikes. Theoretically integrating the literatures on conflict, decision making, and emotion, the current research investigated how specific emotions associated with certainty or uncertainty, including fear, anger, disgust, hope, and happiness, influence preemptive strikes. Study 1 demonstrated that hope negatively predicts defensive exits from relationships in choice dilemmas. Studies 2 and 3 experimentally manipulated risk of being attacked in an incentivized, interactive decision making task — the Preemptive Strike Game. Risk of being attacked fueled preemptive strikes; reduced feelings of hope partially mediated this effect in Study 3. Studies 4 and 5 investigated preemptive strikes under uncertainty (rather than risk). In Study 4, reasoning about the factors that make one trustful of others curbed preemptive strikes; cogitating about the factors that underlie discrete emotions, however, did not influence defensive aggression. Study 5 demonstrated that the valence and uncertainty appraisals of incidental emotions interact in shaping preemptive strikes. Specifically, recalling an autobiographical emotional experience that produced hope significantly decreased attack rates relative to fear, happiness, and a control condition. Fear, anger, disgust, and happiness were either unrelated to preemptive strikes or showed inconsistent relationships with preemptive strikes across the 5 studies. These findings shed light on how emotions shape defensive aggression, advance knowledge on strategic choice under risk and uncertainty, and demonstrate hope’s positive effects on social interactions and relationships.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, March 3, 2017

See you in court

Peer Effects on the United States Supreme Court

Richard Holden, Michael Keane & Matthew Lilley

Harvard Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
Using data on essentially every US Supreme Court decision since 1946, we estimate a model of peer effects on the Court. We consider both the impact of justice ideology and justice votes on the votes of their peers. To identify these peer effects we use two instruments. The first is based on the composition of the Court, determined by which justices sit on which cases due to recusals or health reasons for not sitting. The second utilizes the fact that many justices previously sat on Federal Circuit Courts and are empirically much more likely to affirm decisions from their “home” court. We find large peer effects. Replacing a single justice with one who votes in a conservative direction 10 percentage points more frequently increases the probability that each other justice votes conservative by 1.63 percentage points. In terms of votes, a 10 percentage point increase in the probability that a single justice votes conservative leads to a 1.1 percentage increase in the probability that each other justice votes conservative. Finally, a single justice becoming 10% more likely to vote conservative increases the share of cases with a conservative outcome by 3.6 percentage points – excluding the direct effect of that justice – and reduces the share with a liberal outcome by 3.2 percentage points. In general, the indirect effect of a justice’s vote on the outcome through the votes of their peers is typically several times larger than the direct mechanical effect of the justice’s own vote.

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Human Decisions and Machine Predictions

Jon Kleinberg et al.

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
We examine how machine learning can be used to improve and understand human decision-making. In particular, we focus on a decision that has important policy consequences. Millions of times each year, judges must decide where defendants will await trial — at home or in jail. By law, this decision hinges on the judge’s prediction of what the defendant would do if released. This is a promising machine learning application because it is a concrete prediction task for which there is a large volume of data available. Yet comparing the algorithm to the judge proves complicated. First, the data are themselves generated by prior judge decisions. We only observe crime outcomes for released defendants, not for those judges detained. This makes it hard to evaluate counterfactual decision rules based on algorithmic predictions. Second, judges may have a broader set of preferences than the single variable that the algorithm focuses on; for instance, judges may care about racial inequities or about specific crimes (such as violent crimes) rather than just overall crime risk. We deal with these problems using different econometric strategies, such as quasi-random assignment of cases to judges. Even accounting for these concerns, our results suggest potentially large welfare gains: a policy simulation shows crime can be reduced by up to 24.8% with no change in jailing rates, or jail populations can be reduced by 42.0% with no increase in crime rates. Moreover, we see reductions in all categories of crime, including violent ones. Importantly, such gains can be had while also significantly reducing the percentage of African-Americans and Hispanics in jail. We find similar results in a national dataset as well. In addition, by focusing the algorithm on predicting judges’ decisions, rather than defendant behavior, we gain some insight into decision-making: a key problem appears to be that judges respond to ‘noise’ as if it were signal. These results suggest that while machine learning can be valuable, realizing this value requires integrating these tools into an economic framework: being clear about the link between predictions and decisions; specifying the scope of payoff functions; and constructing unbiased decision counterfactuals.

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The Impact of Judicial Elections in the Sentencing of Black Crime

Kyung Park

Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper explores the possibility that criminal court judges engage in discriminatory sentencing in response to judicial elections. I use a research design that 1) distinguishes between the effects of judicial elections versus preferences and 2) separates the effects of judicial elections versus the electoral pressures of other public officials. I find that incarceration rates rise by 2.4 percentage points in the final six months of the election cycle, but only for black not white felons. These effects are more pronounced in districts where the median voter is expected to have higher levels of racial prejudice towards blacks.

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The Endgame of Administrative Law: Governmental Disobedience and the Judicial Contempt Power

Nicholas Parrillo

Yale Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
Scholars of administrative law focus overwhelmingly on lawsuits to review federal government action while assuming that, if plaintiffs win such lawsuits, the government will do what the court says. But in fact, the federal government’s compliance with court orders is imperfect and fraught, especially with orders compelling the government to act affirmatively. Such orders can strain a federal agency’s resources, interfere with its other legally-required tasks, and force it to make decisions on little information. An agency hit with such an order will often warn the judge that it badly needs more latitude and more time to comply. Judges relent, cutting slack and extending deadlines. The plaintiff who has “won” the suit finds that victory was merely the start of a tough negotiation that can drag on for years. These compliance negotiations are little understood. Basic questions about them are unexplored, including the most fundamental: What is the endgame? That is, if the judge concludes that the agency has delayed too long and demanded too much, is there anything she can do, at long last, to make the agency comply? What the judge can do, ultimately, is the same thing as for any disobedient litigant: find the agency (and its high officials) in contempt. But do judges actually make such contempt findings? If so, can judges couple those findings with the sanctions of fine and imprisonment that give contempt its potency against private parties? If not, what use is contempt? The literature is silent on these questions, and conventional research methods, confined to appellate case law, are hopeless for addressing it. There are no opinions of the Supreme Court on the subject, and while the courts of appeals have handled the problem many times, they have dealt with it in a manner calculated to avoid setting clear and general precedent. Through an examination of thousands of opinions (especially of district courts), docket sheets, briefs, and other filings, plus archival research and interviews, this Article provides the first general assessment of how federal courts handle the federal government’s disobedience. It makes four conclusions. First, the federal judiciary is willing to issue contempt findings against agencies and officials. Second, while several federal judges believe they can (and have tried to) attach sanctions to these findings, the higher courts have exhibited a virtually complete unwillingness to allow sanctions, at times swooping down at the eleventh hour to rescue an agency from incurring a budget-straining fine or its top official from being thrown in jail. Third, the higher courts, even as they unfailingly thwart sanctions in all but a few minor instances, have bent over backward to avoid making pronouncements that sanctions are categorically unavailable, deliberately keeping the sanctions issue in a state of low salience and at least nominal legal uncertainty. Fourth, even though contempt findings are practically devoid of sanctions, they have a shaming effect that gives them substantial if imperfect deterrent power. The efficacy of litigation against agencies rests on a widespread perception that federal officials simply do not disobey court orders and a concomitant norm that identifies any violation as deviant. Contempt findings, regardless of sanctions, are a means of weaponizing that norm by designating the agency and official as violators and subjecting them to shame. But if judges make too many such findings, and especially if they impose (inevitably publicity-grabbing) sanctions, they may risk undermining the perception that officials always comply and thus the norm that they do so. The judiciary therefore may sometimes pull its punches to preserve the substantial yet limited norm-based power it has.

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The Racial Politics of Due Process Protection: Does Partisanship or Racial Composition Influence State-Level Adoption of Recorded Interrogation Policies?

Jason Carmichael & Stephanie Kent

Criminal Justice Review, March 2017, Pages 58-76

Abstract:
Discoveries of wrongful convictions have increased substantially over the last several decades. During this period, practitioners and scholars have been advocating for the adoption of policies aimed at reducing the likelihood of convicting a person for a crime they did not commit. Implementing such policies are vitally important not only because they help ensure that the innocent do not receive unwarranted sanctions or that the guilty go unpunished but also because cases of wrongful conviction can erode public confidence in the criminal justice system and trust in the rule of law. To avoid such outcomes, many states have adopted policies through legislation that aim to reduce system errors. It remains unclear, however, why some states appear more willing to provide due process protections against wrongful convictions than others. Findings suggest that dimensions of racial politics may help explain the reluctance of some states to adopt protections against wrongful convictions. Specifically, interaction terms show that states with a Republican governor and a large African American population are the least likely to adopt policies aimed at protecting against wrongful convictions. We thus identify important differences in the political and social context between U.S. states that influence the adoption of criminal justice policies.

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Unintended Consequences: The Regressive Effects of Increased Access to Courts

Anthony Niblett & Albert Yoon

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, March 2017, Pages 5–30

Abstract:
Small claims courts enable parties to resolve their disputes relatively quickly and cheaply. The court's limiting feature, by design, is that alleged damages must be small, in accordance with the jurisdictional limit at that time. Accordingly, one might expect that a large increase in the upper limit of claim size would increase the court's accessibility to a larger and potentially more diverse pool of litigants. We examine this proposition by studying the effect of an increase in the jurisdictional limit of the Ontario Small Claims Court. Prior to January 2010, claims up to $10,000 could be litigated in the small claims court. After January 2010, this jurisdictional limit increased to include all claims up to $25,000. We study patterns in nearly 625,000 disputes over the period 2006–2013. In this article, we investigate plaintiff behavior. Interestingly, the total number of claims filed by plaintiffs does not increase significantly with the increased jurisdictional limit. We do find, however, changes to the composition of plaintiffs. Following the jurisdictional change, we find that plaintiffs using the small claims court are, on average, from richer neighborhoods. We also find that the proportion of plaintiffs from poorer neighborhoods drops. The drop-off is most pronounced in plaintiffs from the poorest 10 percent of neighborhoods. We explore potential explanations for this regressive effect, including crowding out, congestion, increased legal representation, and behavioral influences. Our findings suggest that legislative attempts to make the courts more accessible may have unintended regressive consequences.

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Being Part of the “Home Team”: Perceptions of Professional Interactions with Outsider Attorneys

Todd Collins, Tao Dumas & Laura Moyer

Journal of Law and Courts, Spring 2017, Pages 141-171

Abstract:
Understanding how attorneys’ perceptions of “insider” and “outsider” status affect negotiations is of both theoretical and practical importance for understanding the judicial system. We utilize a comprehensive survey of attorneys from one state to explore views of trustworthiness and negotiations. Overall, as attorneys become more embedded in their in-group, they increasingly report lower trust levels and less effective negotiations with outsiders. These relationships do vary somewhat by the scope and location of the attorney’s practice. Our findings provide insight into one possible causal mechanism underlying the “repeat player” advantage; they also suggest new directions for research on case outcomes.

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Preferences Toward Leniency under Mandatory Criminal Sentencing Guidelines: Role-in-the-Offense Adjustments for Federal Drug Trafficking Defendants

Andrew Nutting

B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper tests whether judges and/or prosecutors manipulated mandatory federal sentencing guidelines to shorten prison sentences. It finds that, among drug traffickers convicted under the federal guidelines’ former mandatory sentencing system, those who faced harsher underlying charges were found to have played significantly lower-level roles in their conspiracies. This is consistent with guideline manipulation to help defendants facing longer sentences. Women received significantly larger role-in-the-offense reductions related to harsher underlying charges than men. Effects were insignificant if defendants were eligible for lower-cost alternative methods of sentence reduction, namely substantial assistance departures and safety-valve reductions from mandatory minimum sentences.

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Justice Is (Change) Blind: Applying Research on Visual Metacognition in Legal Settings

Christopher Brett Jaeger, Daniel Levin & Evan Porter

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research has demonstrated striking failures of visual awareness. For example, participants have failed to notice gorillas passing through basketball games, money dangling from trees in front of them, and even sudden substitutions of conversation partners. Findings such as these are interesting in part because they conflict strongly with the intuition that most visual objects and events are easily detectable. Indeed, research in metacognition reveals that people overestimate their ability to detect visual stimuli in a variety of contexts. These errors in visual metacognition have legal implications, as they may cause decision makers to misweigh evidence about visual experience. We describe 4 experiments that bridge the gap between lab studies of visual metacognition and 1 relevant legal context: negligence litigation. In the first 2 experiments, we expand on the existing visual metacognition research by demonstrating that participants’ overestimation persists when they are asked what an observer should see and what an observer can be blamed for failing to see. Then, we examine the extent to which participants treat their presumptions that someone should have seen a stimulus like evidence of verified visual detection. Finally, we use vignettes of negligence cases modeled on existing change blindness and inattention blindness research to drive home the potential legal consequence of visual metacognitive errors: defendants may be found negligent for failing to detect stimuli that most people in the defendants’ position would not have seen.

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Judging Guilt and Accuracy: Highly Confident Eyewitnesses are Discounted When They Provide Featural Justifications

Chad Dodson & David Dobolyi

Psychology, Crime & Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
Jurors are heavily swayed by confident eyewitnesses. Are they also influenced by how eyewitnesses justify their level of confidence? Here we document a counter-intuitive effect: When eyewitnesses identified a suspect from a lineup with absolute certainty (“I am completely confident”) and justified their confidence by referring to a visible feature of the accused (“I remember his nose”), participants judged the suspect as less likely to be guilty than when eyewitnesses identified a suspect with absolute certainty but offered an unobservable justification (“I would never forget him”) or no justification at all. Moreover, people perceive an eyewitness’s identification as nearly 25% less accurate when the eyewitness has provided a featural justification than an unobservable justification or simply no justification. Even when an eyewitness’s level of confidence is clear because s/he has expressed it numerically (e.g., “I am 100% certain”) participants perceive eyewitnesses as not credible (i.e., inaccurate) when the eyewitness has provided a featural justification. However, the effect of featural justifications – relative to a confidence statement only – is maximal when there is an accompanying lineup of faces, moderate when there is a single face and minimal when there is no face at all. The results support our Perceived-Diagnosticity account.

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Judicial Independence and US State Bond Ratings: An Empirical Investigation

John Dove

Public Budgeting & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Significant research has assessed how judicial independence influences a number of economic outcomes, however, less has been done to evaluate how financial institutions perceive an independent judiciary. Therefore, this paper considers how greater judicial independence across US states may affect state bond ratings. Overall, the results suggest that states with relatively more independent judiciaries do in fact have higher bond ratings, which translates into lower borrowing costs. The results are robust to a number of specifications and suggest the role that an independent judiciary plays in contract enforcement along with several other important implications for future research.

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Comparing Apples to Oranges: Differences in Women's and Men's Incarceration and Sentencing Outcomes

Kristin Butcher, Kyung Park & Anne Morrison Piehl

NBER Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
Using detailed administrative records, we find that, on average, women receive lighter sentences in comparison with men along both extensive and intensive margins. Using parametric and semi-parametric decomposition methods, roughly 30% of the gender differences in incarceration cannot be explained by the observed criminal characteristics of offense and offender. We also find evidence of considerable heterogeneity across judges in their treatment of female and male offenders. There is little evidence, however, that tastes for gender discrimination are driving the mean gender disparity or the variance in treatment between judges.

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Originalism, Pragmatic Conservatism, and Living Document Judicial Philosophies: Explaining Variation in U.S. Supreme Court Votes in Criminal Procedure Cases for the 1994–2014 Terms of Court

Kevin Buckler & Elizabeth Gilmore

American Journal of Criminal Justice, March 2017, Pages 28–54

Abstract:
Prior research on U.S. Supreme Court justice votes and case outcomes has examined a variety of hypotheses to explain variation in voting and case decisions in criminal procedure matters. Largely ignored by prior work, however, is the notion that the effects of the measures used to examine these prior hypotheses may vary for the justices based on the judicial philosophy espoused and followed by the justice. This article identifies three distinct overarching judicial philosophies of law interpretation that have guided the justices for much of the Rehnquist Court and the entirety of the Roberts Court: Originalism, Pragmatic Conservatism, and Living Document. It contextualizes the Information, Affected Groups, and Legal Issue hypotheses in a framework that considers their potential effects across Originalist, Pragmatic Conservative, and Living Document justices on the Court for the 1994 through 2014 terms. The study finds that enhanced activity by special interest organizations (the Affected Groups Hypothesis) in support of the non-government other party impacts vote direction among Pragmatic Conservative and Living Document justices but not for the Originalist justices. It also finds more case type (Legal Issue) effects for Originalist justices than for Pragmatic Conservative and Living Document justices in that for Originalist justices a vote for the government is less likely in cases that concern statutory meaning (relative to constitutional meaning). Implications are discussed.

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The Differential Effect of War on Liberal and Conservative Judges on the US Courts of Appeals

Susanne Schorpp & Rebecca Reid

Journal of Law and Courts, Spring 2017, Pages 1-31

Abstract:
Recent research reveals judicial tendencies to decide cases more conservatively during times of war. Building on studies in political psychology, we use the observed movement in favor of increased security versus liberty in times of war on the courts to investigate differences in how liberals and conservatives are motivated by threat concerns. We find that war mainly conditions decision making by liberal judges in criminal and civil liberties cases. The results furthermore suggest that ideological differences play little role in wartime decision making for civil liberties cases.

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Jurors' Subjective Experiences of Deliberations in Criminal Cases

Alix Winter & Matthew Clair

Law & Social Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on jury deliberations has largely focused on the implications of deliberations for criminal defendants' outcomes. In contrast, this article considers jurors' outcomes by integrating subjective experience into the study of deliberations. We examine whether jurors' feelings that they had enough time to express themselves vary by jurors' gender, race, or education. Drawing on status characteristics theory and a survey of more than 3,000 real-world jurors, we find that the majority of jurors feel that they had enough time to express themselves. However, blacks and Hispanics, and especially blacks and Hispanics with less education, are less likely to feel so. Jurors' verdict preferences do not account for these findings. Our findings have implications for status characteristics theory and for legal cynicism among members of lower-status social groups.

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The Politics of the U.S. Federal Judiciary's Requests for Institutional Reform

David Hughes, Richard Vining & Teena Wilhelm

Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objectives: We ask whether the requests the federal judiciary makes to Congress are conditioned either on political factors or on its actual institutional needs.

Methods: We build a new measure of the yearly well-being of the federal courts from 1978 through 2013 using factor analysis. We specify two formal models to generate testable hypotheses that help to untangle equilibria behavior resulting from competing claims on judicial preferences for court reforms. We test these claims using data from the chief justice's Year-End Reports on the Federal Judiciary.

Results: We find that requests are not conditioned upon the courts' actual institutional needs but instead upon their ideological proximity to the Senate.

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Memory Errors in Alibi Generation: How an Alibi Can Turn Against Us

William Crozier, Deryn Strange & Elizabeth Loftus

Behavioral Sciences & the Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
Alibis play a critical role in the criminal justice system. Yet research on the process of alibi generation and evaluation is still nascent. Indeed, similar to other widely investigated psychological phenomena in the legal system – such as false confessions, historical claims of abuse, and eyewitness memory – the basic assumptions underlying alibi generation and evaluation require closer empirical scrutiny. To date, the majority of alibi research investigates the social psychological aspects of the process. We argue that applying our understanding of basic human memory is critical to a complete understanding of the alibi process. Specifically, we challenge the use of alibi inconsistency as an indication of guilt by outlining the “cascading effects” that can put innocents at risk for conviction. We discuss how normal encoding and storage processes can pose problems at retrieval, particularly for innocent suspects that can result in alibi inconsistencies over time. Those inconsistencies are typically misunderstood as intentional deception, first by law enforcement, affecting the investigation, then by prosecutors affecting prosecution decisions, and finally by juries, ultimately affecting guilt judgments. Put differently, despite the universal nature of memory inconsistencies, a single error can produce a cascading effect, rendering an innocent individual's alibi, ironically, proof of guilt.

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Juror Decision-making in Death Penalty Sentencing when Presented with Defendant's History of Child Abuse or Neglect

Lisa Bell Holleran, Tyler Vaughan & Donna Vandiver

Behavioral Sciences & the Law, November/December 2016, Pages 742–766

Abstract:
Previous studies have found aggravating, mitigating, and null effects of defendant histories of abuse and neglect on punishment preferences in capital sentencing. Perceiving these defendants as more dangerous, jurors may be more likely to favor the death penalty when such evidence is presented. This is counter to the intuition that abuse or neglect reduces culpability, and therefore mitigates the severity of punishment. We investigated the effect of defendant childhood physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect on the probability of a prospective juror preferring the death penalty in an between-subject experimental design. Using vignettes and two large samples (students and jurors), defendant histories were found to mitigate the probability that the hypothetical defendant received the death penalty, with sexual abuse having the most salient effect. Further, the effects were conditioned by preference for the death penalty – larger mitigating effects were observed among individuals who favor the death penalty. These findings suggest that initial judgments of abuse and neglect are related to juror leniency, and further research on the interaction of jury instructions and defendant histories is needed.

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Criticism from Below: The Supreme Court’s Decision to Revisit Cases

Christopher McMillion & Kevin Vance

Journal of Law and Courts, Spring 2017, Pages 81-103

Abstract:
The Supreme Court sometimes chooses to use its limited time to revisit earlier decisions. In doing so, the justices signal the importance of reasserting, correcting, or reconsidering their arguments. We find that the likelihood of the Supreme Court revisiting a case in a given year increases significantly as the number of circuit courts critical of that opinion increases. These results suggest that an acknowledgment of the important role of the circuit courts influences the decision to revisit cases. Even if the Court merely clarifies or reinforces earlier opinions, criticism in the circuits prompts the Court to take some action. Though the Supreme Court’s word is final, barring a constitutional amendment or legislative override in nonconstitutional cases, the mechanism of criticism in the circuits allows reconsideration of many issues already decided by the Court and sheds light on the importance of institutional structures to the maintenance of the rule of law.

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The Ties that Bind Beyond the Battlefield: An Examination of the Diffusion Patterns of Veterans Treatment Courts

Bianca Easterly

Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objectives: The growing number of veterans on court dockets with mental health and substance abuse issues has resulted in the proliferation of veterans treatment courts (VTCs). Given the ubiquity of substance abuse and mental illness across communities, it is unclear why some local courts innovate and, more importantly, why some do so earlier than others.

Methods: Using data from 2008 to 2014, the study applies event history modeling to investigate the extent to which, if any, presiding judges’ connection to the armed forces, either personally or through immediate family members (e.g., parents, children), accelerates the adoption of states’ initial VTCs.

Results: Findings show significant support for both the hastening effect of personal knowledge of the military and, to a lesser extent, the increased presence VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinics have on VTC innovation.

Conclusions: Judges’ social group membership and the availability of government resources in a community influence court organization innovation.

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The Impact of Angry Versus Sad Victim Impact Statements on Mock Jurors’ Sentencing Decisions in a Capital Trial

Narina Nuñez et al.

Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present study tested the effects of angry and sad victim impact statements (VIS) on jury eligible participants’ decisions. Death qualified participants (N = 581) watched the penalty phase of a capital trial that varied the presence and emotional content of the VIS (angry, sad, or no VIS) along with the strength of mitigating evidence (weak or strong). Results revealed that Angry VIS led to an increase in death sentences, whereas Sad VIS did not. Furthermore, participants who reported becoming angry during the trial were more likely to render a death sentence, but participants who became sad during the trial were not. No interaction was found between VIS and strength of mitigating evidence, but participants exposed to the angry VIS did rate the mitigating evidence as less important to their decisions. The results indicate that VIS are not inherently biasing, nor are all emotions equally impactful on sentencing decisions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Fairly diverse

The positive influence of female college students on their male peers

Andrew Hill

Labour Economics, January 2017, Pages 151-160

Abstract:
Female college students improve the academic outcomes of their male peers. Using within-college across-cohort variation in freshman enrollment at US colleges, a one standard deviation increase in the proportion of females in a freshman cohort is associated with a half percentage point increase in graduation rates for males in that cohort, while there is no effect for females. Effects are more evident in colleges where student interactions are likely more intense - colleges with higher shares of students living on campus, in college housing, and without cars - suggesting that effects operate through changes in the college learning environment.

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Loss of Institutional Trust Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Adolescents: A Consequence of Procedural Injustice and a Cause of Life-Span Outcomes

David Yeager et al.

Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research tested a social-developmental process model of trust discernment. From sixth to eighth grade, White and African American students were surveyed twice yearly (ages 11-14; Study 1, N = 277). African American students were more aware of racial bias in school disciplinary decisions, and as this awareness grew it predicted a loss of trust in school, leading to a large trust gap in seventh grade. Loss of trust by spring of seventh grade predicted African Americans' subsequent discipline infractions and 4-year college enrollment. Causality was confirmed with a trust-restoring "wise feedback" treatment delivered in spring of seventh grade that improved African Americans' eighth-grade discipline and college outcomes. Correlational findings were replicated with Latino and White students (ages 11-14; Study 2, N = 206).

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Spillover bias in diversity judgment

David Daniels, Margaret Neale & Lindred Greer

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, March 2017, Pages 92-105

Abstract:
Diversity research has long assumed that individuals' perceptions of diversity are accurate, consistent with normative theories of judgments in economics and decision theory. We challenge this assumption. In six experiments, we show that when there is more diversity along one dimension (e.g., race, clothing color), people also perceive more diversity on other dimensions (e.g., gender, skill) even when this cannot reflect reality. This spillover bias in diversity judgment leads to predictable errors in decision making with economic incentives for accuracy, and it alters support for affirmative action policies in organizations. Spillover bias in diversity judgment may help explain why managerial decisions about groups often appear to be suboptimal and why diversity scholars have found inconsistent associations between objective diversity and team outcomes.

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Expectations, Education, and Opportunity

Jason DeBacker & Wesley Routon

Journal of Economic Psychology, April 2017, Pages 29-44

Abstract:
Using a long panel of youths, we establish a causal link between parental expectations regarding education and educational attainment. In particular, we use an instrumental variables approach to find that the child's chances of obtaining a high school or college degree are increasing in the parent's expectations of the likelihood of these events. We then use differences between the objective likelihood of a child's educational attainment and the parents' subjective probabilities to consider the hypothesis that lower educational outcomes among certain groups are driven by a "culture of despair," where children are low-achieving because they are expected to underachieve. While we do find that children from households with lower levels of income, wealth, and parental education are less likely to attain high school and college degrees, we reject the hypothesis that this is driven by low subjective expectations of educational success. Rather, we find that parents from disadvantaged groups have expectations for the educational outcomes of their children that differ more from the statistical likelihood of these outcomes than do parents of children from advantaged households. That is, we find that parents in more disadvantaged households are more optimistic about the educational outcomes of their children than those from more advantaged households.

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Workforce Diversity and Job Satisfaction of the Majority and the Minority: Analyzing the Asymmetrical Effects of Relational Demography on Whites and Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Sungjoo Choi

Review of Public Personnel Administration, March 2017, Pages 84-107

Abstract:
The structural approaches of workforce diversity note that the racial composition of work groups may affect work attitudes of racial/ethnic minority and White employees in different ways. Analyzing the data from the federal workforce, this study examines how the racial mixture of the agency affects job satisfaction of racial/ethnic minority and White employees. To do so, three models for all employees, Whites, and racial/ethnic minorities were tested using ordinary least squares (OLS) regressions with agency-fixed effects. The results suggest that holding a minority status in their agency may bring lower job satisfaction to both racial/ethnic minority and White employees. Racial/ethnic minorities reported the lowest job satisfaction in predominantly White settings, while Whites expressed the lowest job satisfaction in minority-majority settings. In contrast, racial/ethnic minorities reported the highest job satisfaction when they hold a majority status in their agency (minority-majority settings). Interestingly, Whites seem to be most satisfied in White-majorities settings, which are less homogeneous than predominantly White settings. The finding for all employees showed that federal employees stated higher satisfaction in White-majorities settings than in others.

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Teacher Racial Composition and Exclusion Rates Among Black or African American Students

Dorothy Cheng

University of Wisconsin Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
Expulsion and suspension rates among African American students are the highest of all racial groups across elementary, middle, and high schools. This study investigates whether a more racially diverse teaching force could alleviate exclusion rates among black students. Using administrative data from the universe of K-12 public schools in the state of Wisconsin from 2002-03 to 2012-13 and employing a school fixed effects approach, results suggest that increasing the representation of black teachers by even a single percentage point is associated with lower suspension rates among black students at the high school level. Across levels of schooling, exclusion rates of white students are unrelated to teacher racial composition.

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Are University Communities Deeply Divided over the Value of Diversity on Campus? Understanding Students' Preferences via Conjoint Analysis

Madeline Brown et al.

Dartmouth College Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
The issue of diversity - in terms of race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status - on university campuses is now highly politicized in the United States. Remarkably little research, however, has attempted to identify students' preferences for prioritizing diversity. To address this problem, we apply the method of fully randomized conjoint analysis recently developed and applied by political scientists to measure multidimensional preferences for politicians, policies, and issues. Specifically, using campus-wide surveys of undergraduate students at Dartmouth College, one of the universities frequently in the news on diversity-related protests and conflicts, we show broad support among undergraduate students for prioritizing diversity in faculty recruitment and undergraduate admissions. The estimated preferences for diversity vary across groups but, contrary to what some recent media coverage suggests, we find no evidence of polarization in opinions among students with regard to preferences for diversity in faculty recruitment and undergraduate admissions.

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Pursuing Quality: How Search Costs and Uncertainty Magnify Gender-based Double Standards in a Multistage Evaluation Process

Tristan Botelho & Mabel Abraham

Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite lab-based evidence supporting the argument that double standards - by which one group is unfairly held to stricter standards than another - explain observed gender differences in evaluations, it remains unclear whether double standards also affect evaluations in organization and market contexts, where competitive pressures create a disincentive to discriminate. Using data from a field study of investment professionals sharing recommendations on an online platform, and drawing on status theory, we identify the conditions under which double standards in multistage evaluations contribute to unequal outcomes for men and women. We find that double standards disadvantaging women are most likely when evaluators face heightened search costs related to the number of candidates being compared or higher levels of uncertainty stemming from variation in the amount of pertinent information available. We rule out that systematic gender differences in the actions or characteristics of the investment professionals being evaluated are driving these results. By more carefully isolating the role of this status-based mechanism of discrimination for perpetuating gender inequality, this study identifies not only whether but also the conditions under which gender-based double standards lead to a female disadvantage, even when relevant and objective information about performance is readily available.

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Implicit Black identification and stereotype threat among African American students

Thomas Craemer & Byron D'Andra Orey

Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study detects statistically significant and substantively large stereotype threat effects that would remain hidden if Black identification were measured only explicitly. Three hundred and fifty-one students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were tested on an implicit Black identification measure in an online survey, and stereotype threat was manipulated beforehand by randomly presenting one of three introductory screens: an all-White research team (high-threat condition), an all-Black research team (low-threat condition), or no team picture (control condition). The implicit Black identification measure predicted pro-Black political opinions (regarding affirmative action and government aid to Blacks, slavery reparations, and the Racial Resentment Scale), high performance on a political knowledge test, and high self-reported political participation. However, under the high-threat condition, Black students with the highest implicit Black identification scores answered 25% fewer political knowledge questions correctly, and reported 25% fewer acts of political participation, compared with students operating under the low-threat conditions.

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Dialectical Thinking and Fairness-Based Perspectives of Affirmative Action

Ivona Hideg & Lance Ferris

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Affirmative action (AA) policies are among the most effective means for enhancing diversity and equality in the workplace, yet are also often viewed with scorn by the wider public. Fairness-based explanations for this scorn suggest AA policies provide preferential treatment to minorities, violating procedural fairness principles of consistent treatment. In other words, to promote equality in the workplace, effective AA policies promote inequality when selecting employees, and the broader public perceives this to be procedurally unfair. Given this inconsistency underlies negative reactions to AA policies, we argue that better preparing individuals to deal with inconsistencies can mitigate negative reactions to AA policies. Integrating theories from the fairness and cognitive styles literature, we demonstrate across 4 studies how dialectical thinking - a cognitive style associated with accepting inconsistencies in one's environment - increases support for AA policies via procedural fairness perceptions. Specifically, we found support for our propositions across a variety of AA policy types (i.e., strong and weak preference policies) and when conceptualizing dialectical thinking either as an individual difference or as a state that can be primed - including being primed by the framing of the AA policy itself. We discuss theoretical contributions and insights for policy-making at government and organizational levels.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

War games

Attacking the Unknown Weapons of a Potential Bomb Builder: The Impact of Intelligence on the Strategic Interaction

Artyom Jelnov, Yair Tauman & Richard Zeckhauser

Games and Economic Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Nation 1 wants to develop a nuclear bomb (or other weapons of mass destruction). Nation 2, its enemy, wants to prevent this, either by requiring that 1 open his facilities, or through a pinpoint strike if her imperfect intelligence system (IS) indicates a bomb is present or imminent. If 1 refuses full inspection, 2 can attack 1 or not. 1's cost for allowing inspection, private information, can be either high, H, or low, L. The game's unique sequential equilibrium will be separating or pooling, depending on the precision of IS. The equilibrium is fully characterized. Surprisingly for less accurate IS, 2 behaves aggressively-her appetite to attack is strong. Highly accurate IS dampens that appetite. The following tragic outcome arises in equilibrium with positive probability: 1 does not develop the bomb; 2's IS correctly signals 1's decision; 1, regardless of type, refuses to open its facilities; 2 attacks 1.

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Foreign Aid, Human Rights, and Democracy Promotion: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Allison Carnegie & Nikolay Marinov

American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does foreign aid improve human rights and democracy? We help arbitrate the debate over this question by leveraging a novel source of exogeneity: the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. We find that when a country's former colonizer holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union during the budget-making process, the country is allocated considerably more foreign aid than are countries whose former colonizer does not hold the presidency. Using instrumental variables estimation, we demonstrate that this aid has positive effects on human rights and democracy, although the effects are short-lived after the shock to aid dissipates. We adduce the timing of events, qualitative evidence, and theoretical insights to argue that the conditionality associated with an increased aid commitment is responsible for the positive effects in the domains of human rights and democracy.

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Out of the Service, Into the House: Military Experience and Congressional War Oversight

Danielle Lupton

Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
While evidence from international security and civil-military relations shows that elites with military experience have distinct policy preferences from elites who have not served in the armed forces, the effects of military service are not apparent in congressional voting records on foreign and defense policy. If elites with military experience have distinct policy preferences, why has this gap failed to manifest itself in congressional policy positions? I argue that the effects of military service are most pronounced on issues where this experience is highly salient: on the oversight of war operations. Using a pooled cross-sectional time-series analysis of an index of roll call votes in the House of Representatives during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I find that congresspersons with military experience are significantly more likely to vote to increase congressional oversight over war operations, including increased access to information and limiting the deployment of troops in theater. Further tests confirm these findings are not simply due to partisan effects. I discuss how my results carry serious implications for war termination and the declining number of veterans in Congress during the post-9/11 era, as well as the impact of military service on foreign policy and international security.

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No Love for Doves? Foreign Policy and Candidate Appeal

John Kane & Helmut Norpoth

Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Methods: We conducted experiments in which (fictional) candidates take hawkish or dovish positions in response to a real-world threat to the United States. We complemented these studies with analyses of national survey data for the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

Results: Our results consistently refute the popular proposition that Democrats stand to benefit from adopting more hawkish foreign policy stances.

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Nuclear Weapons in Wargames: Testing Traditions and Taboos

Reid Pauly

MIT Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
I explore the available history of wargaming in the United States to uncover evidence about the willingness of American strategic elites to use nuclear weapons. Recent scholarship using survey experiments has found evidence against a publicly held aversion to the use of nuclear weapons (Press, Sagan, Valentino 2013). This finding casts doubt on the universal applicability of a normative prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons. However, existing research is limited by the fact that the general public is not empowered to make decisions about the use of nuclear weapons. To investigate the views of decision-makers, I look to declassified wargames that considered the use of nuclear weapons. I argue that strategic elites who participated in wargames showed a remarkable reluctance to employ nuclear weapons, and that their reticence provides evidence in favor of an elite tradition of non-use of nuclear weapons. Neither of the two most prominent monographs on the question of non-use (Tannenwald 2007; Paul 2009) use evidence from wargames. The article also includes an investigation of how and why wargames are methodologically useful for political scientists.

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Is Chinese Nationalism Rising? Evidence from Beijing

Alastair Iain Johnston

International Security, Winter 2016/17, Pages 7-43

Abstract:
“Rising nationalism” has been a major meme in commentary on the development of China's material power since the early 1990s. Analysts often claim that rising nationalism, especially among China's youth, is an important force compelling the Chinese leadership to take a tougher stand on a range of foreign policy issues, particularly maritime disputes in East Asia. The rising nationalism meme is one element in the “newly assertive China” narrative that generalizes from China's coercive diplomacy in these disputes to claim that a dissatisfied China is challenging a U.S.-dominated liberal international order writ large. But is this meme accurate? Generally, research on Chinese nationalism has lacked a baseline against which to measure changing levels of nationalism across time. The data from the Beijing Area Study survey of Beijing residents from 1998 to 2015 suggest that the rising popular nationalism meme is empirically inaccurate. This finding implies that there are other factors that may be more important in explaining China's coercive diplomacy on maritime issues, such as elite opinion, the personal preferences of top leaders, security dilemma dynamics, organizational interests, or some combination thereof.

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Did Star Wars Help End the Cold War? Soviet Response to the SDI Program

Pavel Podvig

Science & Global Security, Spring 2017, Pages 3-27

Abstract:
The Strategic Defense Initiative was a U.S. missile defense program that played a very prominent role in the U.S.–Soviet relationships in the 1980s and is often credited with helping end the Cold War, as it presented the Soviet Union with a technological challenge that it could not meet. This article introduces several official Soviet documents to examine Soviet response to SDI. The evidence suggests that although the Soviet Union expressed serious concerns about U.S. missile defense program, SDI was not a decisive factor in advancing arms control negotiations. Instead, the program seriously complicated U.S.–Soviet arms control process. SDI also failed to dissuade the Soviet Union from investing in development of ballistic missiles. The Soviet Union quickly identified ways to avoid a technological arms race with the United States and focused on development of advanced missiles and anti-satellite systems to counter missile defenses. Some of these programs have been preserved to the current day.

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Civil-military Pathologies and Defeat in War: Tests Using New Data

Vipin Narang & Caitlin Talmadge

Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article uses an original data set, the Wartime Civil-military Relations Data Set, to test arguments about the causes of victory and defeat in war. Our analysis provides strong initial support for the notion that civil-military relations powerfully shape state prospects for victory and defeat. Specifically, states whose militaries have a significant internal role or whose regimes engage in coup-proofing appear to have a substantially lower probability of winning interstate wars, even when we account for the role of other important variables, including regime type and material capabilities. Crucially, our measures of civil-military relations include coup incidence but also move beyond it to detect more subtle indicators of civil-military relations. The resulting analysis should give us confidence in acknowledging the importance of nonmaterial variables in explaining war outcomes, while also paving the way for further research that can utilize and extend the data set.

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The cycle of violence in the Second Intifada: Causality in nonlinear vector autoregressive models

Muhammad Asali, Aamer Abu-Qarn & Michael Beenstock

Journal of Applied Econometrics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We contest Jaeger and Paserman's claim (Jaeger and Paserman , 2008. The cycle of violence? An empirical analysis of fatalities in the Palestinian–Israeli conflict. American Economic Review 98(4): 1591–1604) that Palestinians did not react to Israeli aggression during Intifada 2. We address the differences between the two sides in terms of the timing and intensity of violence, estimate nonlinear vector autoregression models that are suitable when the linear vector autoregression innovations are not normally distributed, identify causal effects rather than Granger causality using the principle of weak exogeneity, and introduce the “kill-ratio” as a concept for testing hypotheses about the cycle of violence. The Israelis killed 1.28 Palestinians for every killed Israeli, whereas the Palestinians killed only 0.09 Israelis for every killed Palestinian.

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Assessing the Effectiveness of High-Profile Targeted Killings in the “War on Terror”: A Quasi-Experiment

Jennifer Varriale Carson

Criminology & Public Policy, February 2017, Pages 191–220

Abstract:
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the ensuing “war on terrorism,” the U.S. government has engaged in a series of controversial counterterrorism policies. Perhaps none is more so than the use of targeted killings aimed at eliminating the senior leadership of the global jihadist movement. Nevertheless, prior research has yet to establish that this type of tactic is effective, even among high-profile targets. Employing a robust methodology, I find that these types of killings primarily yielded negligible effects.

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The Effects of Rejecting Aid on Recipients' Reputations: Evidence from Natural Disaster Responses

Allison Carnegie & Lindsay Dolan

Columbia University Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
How do states improve their international status and prestige short of war? We argue that rejecting international assistance can boost a government’s image by making it appear self-sufficient and able to provide for its citizens, leading many states to decline foreign aid. However, potential recipients only do so when they have the ability to send a credible signal and when they value status highly. We derive these hypotheses from a formal model and then use a survey experiment to demonstrate that international observers alter their opinions about potential recipients when they learn that they rejected international aid. Finally, we gather new data to empirically verify that the more resources and greater military capabilities states possess, the more likely they are to reject aid, even when they require the aid. Our results help to explain why states sometimes refuse needed assistance and suggest that many states cultivate images of self-sufficiency.

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Does Terror Defeat Contact? Intergroup Contact and Prejudice Toward Muslims Before and After the London Bombings

Dominic Abrams et al.

Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Allport (1954) proposed a series of preconditions that have subsequently been shown to facilitate effects of intergroup contact on attitudes toward outgroups (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006). The present study examines whether objective threat, in the form of the 2005 London 7/7 terror attack, can inhibit the positive effects of contact. We tested hypotheses that contact would affect prejudice toward Muslims regardless of the bombings (contact prevails) or that the bombings would inhibit the effects of contact on prejudice (threat inhibits). Data were collected through representative national surveys 1 month before and again 1 month after the attacks in London on July 7, 2005 (pre-7/7 N = 931; post-7/7 N = 1,100), which represent relatively low and relatively high salience of “objective threat.” Prejudice against Muslims significantly increased following the bombings. Psychological threats to safety (safety threat) and to customs (symbolic threat) mediated the impact of the bombings on prejudice, whereas perceived economic threat did not. All 3 types of psychological threat mediated between contact and prejudice. Multigroup structural equation modeling showed that, even though the objective threat did raise levels of psychological threats, the positive effects of contact on prejudice through perceived psychological threats persisted. Results therefore support a contact prevails hypothesis.

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The Political Economy of Heterogeneity and Conflict

Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg

Tufts University Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
In this paper we present a conceptual framework linking cultural heterogeneity to inter-group conflict. When conflict is about control of public goods, more heterogeneous groups are expected to fight more with each other. In contrast, when conflict is about rival goods, more similar groups are more likely to engage in war with each other. We formalize these ideas within an analytical model and discuss recent empirical studies that are consistent with the model's implications.

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Can News Draw Blood? The Impact of Media Coverage on the Number and Severity of Terror Attacks

Klaus Beckmann, Ralf Dewenter & Tobias Thomas

Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, January 2017

Abstract:
Using a new data set that captures the share of reporting on terrorism, we explore the nexus between terrorist attacks and the news. It turns out that terrorism mainly influences news reports through the number of incidents. Regarding the reverse causality, we provide evidence that the share of the news devoted to terrorism Granger-causes further terrorist activities. However, short-run and medium-run effects differ: media coverage on terror only impact in the severity of terror in the short run (up to two months). From the third to the tenth months, it causes an increase in the number as well as in the severity of the attack. These observations are consistent with the idea of competition between terrorist groups.

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Do Countries Consistently Engage in Misinforming the International Community about Their Efforts to Combat Money Laundering? Evidence Using Benford’s Law

Ioana Sorina Deleanu

PLoS ONE, January 2017

Abstract:
Indicators of compliance and efficiency in combatting money laundering, collected by EUROSTAT, are plagued with shortcomings. In this paper, I have carried out a forensic analysis on a 2003–2010 dataset of indicators of compliance and efficiency in combatting money laundering, that European Union member states self-reported to EUROSTAT, and on the basis of which, their efforts were evaluated. I used Benford’s law to detect any anomalous statistical patterns and found that statistical anomalies were also consistent with strategic manipulation. According to Benford’s law, if we pick a random sample of numbers representing natural processes, and look at the distribution of the first digits of these numbers, we see that, contrary to popular belief, digit 1 occurs most often, then digit 2, and so on, with digit 9 occurring in less than 5% of the sample. Without prior knowledge of Benford’s law, since people are not intuitively good at creating truly random numbers, deviations thereof can capture strategic alterations. In order to eliminate other sources of deviation, I have compared deviations in situations where incentives and opportunities for manipulation existed and in situations where they did not. While my results are not a conclusive proof of strategic manipulation, they signal that countries that faced incentives and opportunities to misinform the international community about their efforts to combat money laundering may have manipulated these indicators. Finally, my analysis points to the high potential for disruption that the manipulation of national statistics has, and calls for the acknowledgment that strategic manipulation can be an unintended consequence of the international community’s pressure on countries to put combatting money laundering on the top of their national agenda.

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The Effects of Terror on International Air Passenger Transport: An Empirical Investigation

Devashish Mitra, Cong Si Pham & Subhayu Bandyopadhyay

Federal Reserve Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
This paper presents a theoretical model (adapted from the structural gravity model by Anderson and van Wincoop, 2003) to capture the effects of terrorism on air passenger traffic between nations affected by terrorism. We then use equations derived from this model, in conjunction with alternative functional forms for trade costs, to estimate the effects of terrorism on bilateral air passenger flows from 57 source countries to 25 destination countries for the period of 2000 to 2014. We find that an additional terrorist incident results in approximately a 1.2% decrease in the bilateral air passenger transport per unit distance while doubling of the accumulated terrorist incidents during the past 5 years reduces it by 18%. Terrorism adversely impacts the bilateral air passenger transport per unit distance both by reducing national output and especially by increasing psychological distress, which could be an important contributing factor in perceived travel costs. Last but not the least, we show that the responsiveness of international air travel to terrorism critically depends on the nature of the terrorist attacks. Specifically, international air passenger transport is found to be extremely sensitive to fatal terrorist attacks and terrorist attacks of targets such as airports, transportation or tourists.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Big problems

(How) Does Obesity Harm Academic Performance? Stratification at the Intersection of Race, Sex, and Body Size in Elementary and High School

Amelia Branigan

Sociology of Education, January 2017, Pages 25-46

Abstract:
In this study I hypothesize a larger penalty of obesity on teacher-assessed academic performance for white girls in English, where femininity is privileged, than in math, where stereotypical femininity is perceived to be a detriment. This pattern of associations would be expected if obesity largely influences academic performance through social pathways, such as discrimination and stigma. In the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (age ~9) and the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997 (age ~18), I find obesity to be associated with a penalty on academic performance among white girls in English but not in math, while no association is found in either subject for white boys or for black students net of controls. Findings suggest that the relationship between obesity and academic performance may result largely from how educational institutions interact differently with bodies of different sizes rather than primarily via constraints on physical health.

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Can Legislation Prohibiting Weight Discrimination Improve Psychological Well-Being? A Preliminary Investigation

Rebecca Pearl, Rebecca Puhl & John Dovidio Analyses of

Social Issues and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Weight-based discrimination is pervasive and increases vulnerability to poor mental health among targeted individuals. Legislation prohibiting weight discrimination has been proposed as an avenue for reducing social injustice. The present research examines how mere knowledge of such legislation may improve the psychological well-being of individuals who have experienced unfair treatment due to weight. In an experiment administered online, 214 adults with overweight/obesity read a vignette exemplifying weight discrimination and were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, in which they were informed that weight discrimination was illegal or legal, and then responded to questionnaires assessing internalized weight bias, affect, perceived pervasiveness of weight discrimination, and support for anti-discrimination legislation. Analysis of covariance revealed that participants with obesity in the Illegal condition exhibited lower levels of internalized weight bias than did participants in the Legal condition. Participants in the Illegal condition also exhibited less negative affect and more positive affect than did those in the Legal condition. No significant effects of condition on perceived pervasiveness of weight discrimination or legislation support emerged. Findings suggest that mere knowledge of legislation prohibiting weight discrimination has the potential to reduce weight bias internalization and improve affective responses among individuals with obesity.

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Cost of Children's Healthy vs Unhealthy Snacks Does Not Differ at Convenience Stores

Robin DeWeese & Punam Ohri-Vachaspati

Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, forthcoming

Objective: This study compared the prices of unhealthy (chips) and healthy (ready-to-eat fruit) snacks that students are likely to purchase from corner stores.

Methods: Snacks were purchased from 325 New Jersey corner stores; chip prices were compared with fruit prices overall and by store sales volume and block group characteristics.

Results: Prices did not differ significantly between chips and fruit in the overall sample in which both items were available (n = 104) (chips: $0.46 ± $0.15; fruit: $0.49 ± $0.19; P = .48) or by store or block group characteristics. Neither mean fruit prices nor mean chip prices differed by store sales volume or by neighborhood characteristics.

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The Effects of College on Weight: Examining the “Freshman 15” Myth and Other Effects of College Over the Life Cycle

Charles Baum

Demography, February 2017, Pages 311–336

Abstract:
This study examines the effects of college on weight over much of the life cycle. I compare weights for college students with their weights before and after college and with the weights of noncollege peers using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). I also examine the longer-term effects of college measured almost three decades later. I find that college freshmen gain substantially less than the 15 pounds rumored to be typical for freshmen. Using difference models, individual-specific fixed-effects models, and instrumental variables models to control for various sources of potential bias, I find that freshman year college attendance is estimated to cause only about a one-pound increase. Supplemental results show that those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds gain more weight during the freshman college year. Longer term, having a college education consistently decreases weight. These negative effects have faded over the last 20 years, and they diminish as respondents approach middle age. These trends are more prevalent for whites and Hispanics than for blacks.

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To squeeze or not to squeeze: How squeeze tubes affect consumers' serving sizes

Elke Huyghe, Maggie Geuens & Iris Vermeir

Appetite, April 2017, Pages 56–62

Abstract:
Squeeze tubes increasingly complement traditional packaging. But, would squeeze tubes - besides offering ease of use - also affect consumers' serving sizes? And if so, in what way? To answer these questions, we contrast the motor fluency hypothesis (i.e., bodily movements affect judgments) with the consumption monitoring hypothesis (i.e., paying attention to quantities eaten affects consumption). Two studies reveal that consumers use less of a product when it comes in a squeeze tube versus a traditional container, providing initial evidence for the consumption monitoring hypothesis. A third study also provides evidence that the ease of consumption monitoring drives the squeeze tube effect, which is more prominent for unrestrained eaters. These findings have important implications for consumers, public policy makers, and product manufacturers.

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Socioeconomic Disparities in Childhood Obesity Risk: Association With an Oxytocin Receptor Polymorphism

Nicole Bush et al.

JAMA Pediatrics, January 2017, Pages 61-67

Importance: Pediatricians are paying increased attention to the effects of socioeconomic status (SES) on children’s health. Low SES is a robust predictor of obesity across the life course and may interact with genes affecting metabolism to influence obesity risk. Recent animal literature and burgeoning human research suggest that the hormone oxytocin (OT) may be important for metabolic regulation. To date, this association has not been examined in children.

Design, Setting, and Participants: In this observational study, families were recruited from public school classrooms and enrolled in the Peers and Wellness Study (PAWS), which examined the effects of social status on health. Families were assessed during children’s kindergarten year (fall semester of 2003, 2004, and 2005) and again during middle childhood (2009-2011) for a follow-up assessment that included anthropometric measures and DNA collection. The dates of the analysis were January 2015 to June 2016.

Results: From the original community sample of 338 typically developing children, participants were 186 socioeconomically and racially/ethnically diverse children (mean age, 10.3 years; age range, 9.4-11.3 years; 93 females [50%]) who had sufficient data at the follow-up assessment for inclusion in this study. Among 97 A allele carriers, a 1-SD increase in SES was associated with a decrease in BMIz of 0.28 (95% CI, −0.47 to −0.09) and a decrease in skinfold thickness of 0.95 (95% CI, −1.77 to −0.12) mm, such that they exhibited the highest BMIz and skinfold thickness in contexts of low SES but exhibited the lowest BMIz and skinfold thickness in contexts of high SES. Socioeconomic status was unrelated to BMIz (95% CI, −0.21 to 0.26) or skinfold thickness (95% CI, −0.42 to 1.45) for 89 GG genotyped children.

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Do School Food Programs Improve Child Dietary Quality?

Travis Smith

American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper estimates the impact of U.S. school food programs on the distribution of child dietary quality during 2005–10. The distributional approach allows one to better understand how school food impacts children prone to low-quality diets separately from those prone to higher-quality diets. Using a fixed-effects quantile estimator, I find notable heterogeneity in the general population — school food has positive impacts below the median of the dietary-quality distribution, and negative but insignificant impacts at upper quantiles. Children demonstrating substantial nutritional needs (i.e., food insecure or receiving free/reduced price meals) exhibit positive impacts at all levels of diet quality with especially high benefits at low quantiles. Although school food programs may not benefit the “above-average” child, they do improve the diets of the most nutritionally disadvantaged.

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Accelerometer-measured physical activity is not associated with two-year weight change in African-origin adults from five diverse populations

Lara Dugas et al.

PeerJ, January 2017

Background: Increasing population-levels of physical activity (PA) is a controversial strategy for managing the obesity epidemic, given the conflicting evidence for weight loss from PA alone per se. We measured PA and weight change in a three-year prospective cohort study in young adults from five countries (Ghana, South Africa, Jamaica, Seychelles and USA).

Methods: A total of 1,944 men and women had baseline data, and at least 1 follow-up examination including measures of anthropometry (weight/BMI), and objective PA (accelerometer, 7-day) following the three-year study period. PA was explored as 1-minute bouts of moderate and vigorous PA (MVPA) as well as daily sedentary time.

Results: At baseline; Ghanaian and South African men had the lowest body weights (63.4 ± 9.5, 64.9 ± 11.8 kg, respectively) and men and women from the USA the highest (93.6 ± 25.9, 91.7 ± 23.4 kg, respectively). Prevalence of normal weight ranged from 85% in Ghanaian men to 29% in USA men and 52% in Ghanaian women to 15% in USA women. Over the two-year follow-up period, USA men and Jamaican women experienced the smallest yearly weight change rate (0.1 ± 3.3 kg/yr; −0.03 ± 3.0 kg/yr, respectively), compared to South African men and Ghanaian women greatest yearly change (0.6.0 ± 3.0 kg/yr; 1.22 ± 2.6 kg/yr, respectively). Mean yearly weight gain tended to be larger among normal weight participants at baseline than overweight/obese at baseline. Neither baseline MVPA nor sedentary time were associated with weight gain. Using multiple linear regression, only baseline weight, age and gender were significantly associated with weight gain.

Discussion: From our study it is not evident that higher volumes of PA alone are protective against future weight gain, and by deduction our data suggest that other environmental factors such as the food environment may have a more critical role.

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Worldwide Increase of Obesity Is Related to the Reduced Opportunity for Natural Selection

Alicja Budnik & Maciej Henneberg

PLoS ONE, January 2017

Abstract:
Worldwide rise of obesity may be partly related to the relaxation of natural selection in the last few generations. Accumulation of mutations affecting metabolism towards excessive fat deposition is suggested to be a result of less purging selection. Using the WHO and UN data for 159 countries there is a significant correlation (r = 0.60, p<0.01) between an index of the relaxed opportunity for selection (Biological State Index) and prevalence of obesity (percentage of individuals with BMI >30kg/m2). This correlation remains significant (r = 0.32., p<0.01) when caloric intake and insufficient physical activity prevalence are kept statistically constant (partial correlation analysis, N = 82). The correlation is still significant when gross domestic product per capita is also kept constant (r = 0.24, p <0.05, N = 81). In the last decades, prevalence of both obesity and underweight has increased in some countries despite no change in caloric intake nor in physical inactivity prevalence. Relaxed selection against genes affecting energy balance and metabolism may contribute to the increase of fatness independent from commonly considered positive energy balance. Diagnoses of individual predispositions to obesity at an early age and individual counselling on diet and behaviour may be appropriate strategies to limit further increases in body mass.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, February 27, 2017

Swampy

How the Flattened Costs of Grassroots Lobbying Affect Legislator Responsiveness

John Cluverius

Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Leading theories of grassroots lobbying assert that legislators should respond positively to the volume of grassroots lobbying messages because volume indicates the salience of an issue among constituents. This notion rests on the idea that the costs of producing a large volume of grassroots lobbying signals the value of the information to legislators. Advances in technology and strategy, however, have flattened the costs associated with producing such information — it costs much less to generate one additional e-mail message than before. In this environment, the volume of grassroots lobbying no longer signals the value of the information it contains. Instead, I believe trust becomes the critical factor in evaluating grassroots lobbying. I test this theory using a survey of state legislators. I find that lobbying message volume has no effect on legislator responses to higher salience issues, and a negative effect on lower salience issues.

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Stimulating the Vote: ARRA Road Spending and Vote Share

Emiliano Huet-Vaughn

University of California Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
This paper estimates the impact of public good spending on voting behavior in the United States, using a quasi-experimental design and the distribution of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) road improvement projects across the state of New Jersey. I find an approximate 1.7 percentage point increase in the presidential vote share for the Democratic Party - largely responsible for ARRA’s passage and widely perceived to be the more “tax-and-spend” friendly party - in areas close to highway and bridge improvement expenditures. I find no evidence of an effect on turnout. Results are consistent with two alternative mechanisms: one, a salience mechanism whereby spending and associated “funded-by” signage affect voter underlying political preferences; the other, a possible political multiplier effect through which stimulus spending improves local economic outcomes, making voters more willing to support incumbents. I present evidence at odds with the latter explanation.

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Political Cycles and Stock Returns

Lubos Pastor & Pietro Veronesi

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
We develop a model of political cycles driven by time-varying risk aversion. Heterogeneous agents make two choices: whether to work in the public or private sector and which of two political parties to vote for. The model implies that when risk aversion is high, agents are more likely to elect the party promising more fiscal redistribution. The model predicts higher average stock market returns under Democratic than Republican presidencies, explaining the well-known “presidential puzzle.” Under sufficient complementarity between the public and private sectors, the model also predicts faster economic growth under Democratic presidencies, which is observed in the data.

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The personalities of politicians: A big five survey of American legislators

Richard Hanania

Personality and Individual Differences, 1 April 2017, Pages 164–167

Abstract:
This study uses the Big Five framework to investigate personality differences between politicians and the general public and between politicians themselves based on ideology and party identification. A 50-item Big Five questionnaire was taken by 2586 respondents at the Open Psychology data website and 278 American state legislators. The author finds that politicians are more Extraverted, Agreeable, Emotionally Stable, and Conscientious than the general public. At the same time, they are slightly lower on Intellect/Imagination. All results are statistically significant for all traits and both sexes, except with regards to females and Intellect. When comparing politicians to one another and controlling for demographic variables, Republicans score higher on Conscientiousness and lower on Intellect and Agreeableness. These findings hold for a smaller sample when ideology is the dependent variable, although only Intellect/Imagination reaches statistical significance. Conservative ideology is also associated with Emotional Stability. The results show important differences between politicians and the public, and reveal personality differences among elites that are in some ways analogous to the results we find in more representative samples.

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Change in Capitol: How a 60 Minutes Exposé and the STOCK Act Affected the Investment Activity of U.S. Senators

Ian Cherry, Amanda Rae Heitz & Candace Jens

Tulane University Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
A hedged portfolio mimicking the buys and sells of U.S. Senators earns an 8.8% annualized abnormal return before 60 Minutes exposed arguably unethical trading activity by Senators. “Insiders” presented anecdotal evidence that Senators were using non-public information to time trades and prompted the passage of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. We find Senators’ pre-60 Minutes sells were particularly well-timed, occurring four to six weeks before drops in securities’ prices, so Senators avoid 16.77% in annualized abnormal portfolio losses. We find little evidence of outperformance after “Insiders” – returns to the Senator sell portfolios are 24% lower post-60 Minutes.

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Politically Connected Private Equity and Employment

Mara Faccio & Hung-Chia Hsu

Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the employment consequences of private equity buyouts. We find evidence of higher job creation, on average, at the establishments operated by targets of politically connected private equity firms than at those operated by targets of nonconnected private equity firms. Consistent with an exchange of favors story, establishments operated by targets of politically connected private equity firms increase employment more during election years and in states with high levels of corruption. In additional analyses we provide evidence of specific benefits experienced by target firms from their political connections. Our results are robust to tests designed to mitigate selection concerns.

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The role of corporate political strategies in M&As

Ettore Croci et al.

Journal of Corporate Finance, April 2017, Pages 260–287

Abstract:
In line with the view that politics can complicate M&A deals, we find that firms contributing to political action committees or involved in lobbying are less likely to be acquired and their takeover process is lengthier. As we empirically show, this can be explained by the fact that politicians have motives to interfere with the takeover process due to career concerns, in terms of getting re-elected and raising funds for future campaigns. We also document that politically connected target firms command higher takeover premiums from bidders lacking political expertise, consistent with the notion that the market regards target firms' connections, not easily replicable by bidders, as means to enhance growth opportunities of the merged firm.

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Kings of the Hill? An Examination of Centrist Behavior in the U.S. Senate

Neilan Chaturvedi

Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objectives: Spatial voting literature on Congress indicates that the most powerful members are the ones who sit in the ideological center. This study examines how pivotal voters use that power in their participation in Congress.

Methods: This study examines two modes of congressional participation on two highly salient health-care bills—the filing of amendments and the delivery of floor speeches.

Results: This study finds that pivotal voters shy away from the legislative limelight. Pivotal voters choose to avoid the public eye by rarely proposing amendments or delivering floor speeches on these bills.

Conclusions: While theoretically pivotal, centrists who play the role of pivotal voters are more concerned about their electoral prospects than their legislative prowess and, as a result, defer congressional participation to party and committee leaders so as to avoid the ire of constituents.

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The Paradox of Community Power: Cultural Processes and Elite Authority in Participatory Governance

Jeremy Levine

Social Forces, March 2017, Pages 1155-1179

Abstract:
From town halls to public forums, disadvantaged neighborhoods appear more “participatory” than ever. Yet increased participation has not necessarily resulted in increased influence. This article, drawing on a four-year ethnographic study of redevelopment politics in Boston, presents an explanation for the decoupling of participation from the promise of democratic decision-making. I find that poor urban residents gain the appearance of power and status by invoking and policing membership in “the community” — a boundary sometimes, though not always, implicitly defined by race. But this appearance of power is largely an illusion. In public meetings, government officials can reinforce their authority and disempower residents by exploiting the fact that the boundary demarcating “the community” lacks a standardized definition. When officials laud “the community” as an abstract ideal rather than a specific group of people, they reduce “the community process” to a bureaucratic procedure. Residents appear empowered, while officials retain ultimate decision-making authority. I use the tools of cultural sociology to make sense of these findings and conclude with implications for the study of participatory governance and urban inequality.

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Public Sector Personnel Economics: Wages, Promotions, and the Competence-Control Trade-Off

Charles Cameron, John de Figueiredo & David Lewis

Princeton Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
We model personnel policies in public agencies, examining how wages and promotion standards can partially offset a fundamental contracting problem: the inability of public sector workers to contract on performance, and the inability of political masters to contract on forbearance from meddling. Despite the dual contracting problem, properly constructed personnel policies can encourage intrinsically motivated public sector employees to invest in expertise, seek promotion, remain in the public sector, and develop policy projects. However, doing so requires internal personnel policies that sort "slackers" from "zealots." Personnel policies that accomplish this task are quite different in agencies where acquired expertise has little value in the private sector, and agencies where acquired expertise commands a premium in the private sector. Finally, even with well-designed personnel policies, there remains an inescapable trade-off between political control and expertise acquisition.

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Media Scandals Are Political Events: How Contextual Factors Affect Public Controversies over Alleged Misconduct by U.S. Governors

Brendan Nyhan

Political Research Quarterly, March 2017, Pages 223-236

Abstract:
When political scandals erupt in the press, we usually blame misconduct by public officials, but these episodes are political events whose occurrence and severity also depend in part on the political and media context. Using data on U.S. governors, I show that several key factors affect the likelihood and intensity that alleged misconduct will be politicized by the opposition and publicized by the press. First, lower approval ratings, which decrease the cost of politicizing and publicizing an allegation, are generally associated with more frequent and intense media scandals. By contrast, competing news events can crowd potential scandals off the news agenda. However, no evidence is found that opposition control of state political institutions leads to more media scandal. These results suggest that the occurrence of media scandal depends more on circumstance than we typically assume.

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Size, Fungibility, and the Strength of Lobbying Organizations

David Levine & Salvatore Modica

European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
How can a small special interest group successfully get an inefficient transfer at the expense of a much larger group with many more resources available for lobbying? We consider a simple model of agenda setting where two groups of different size lobby a politician over a transfer from one group to the other, and the group which sets the agenda can choose the size of the proposed transfer. The groups have resources which are used to pay the politician and to overcome the public goods problem within the group. Our key result is that which group prevails in the agenda setting game depends crucially on whether the transfers can also be used to pay the politician - in which case we say they are fungible. If the transfer is fungible, as in the case of a monetary payment, the smaller group prevails. If the transfer is non-fungible the result depends on whether it is rival or not - civil rights for example are non-rival. In the case of a rival non-fungible transfer depending on circumstances either group may prevail. In the non-rival case the large group prevails. Our results explain the apparent paradox that when it comes to special financial favors small groups seem very effective, but when it comes to large non-financial issues - such as minority rights - large groups are more effective.

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Corruption and State and Local Government Debt Expansion

Cheol Liu, Tima Moldogaziev & John Mikesell

Public Administration Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Theories describing rent seeking in the public sector posit a number of negative fiscal outcomes that the choices of corrupt officials may generate. The evidence presented in this article shows that states with greater intensities of public corruption have higher aggregate levels of state and local debt. If corruption in the 10 most corrupt states were only at an average level, their public debt would be 9 percent lower, or about $249.35 per capita, all else being equal. Notably, institutional control measures may not have succeeded in restraining the expansion of state and local public debt in the presence of greater levels of corruption. State and local governments would achieve more efficient levels of fiscal discipline by curbing public sector corruption.

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When Ties Bind: Public Managers’ Networking Behavior and Municipal Fiscal Health after the Great Recession

Benedict Jimenez

Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the relationship between managerial networking and the fiscal health of city governments in the United States that faced a serious budget crisis during and immediately after the Great Recession. Do public managers’ ties with external stakeholders help improve the fiscal health of these cities? Or do these ties bind city officials to decisions that further exacerbate the fiscal difficulties of their governments? These questions are answered using data from a survey of municipal governments across the United States with a population of 50,000 or more, and financial data from Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) covering more than 200 hundred cities and for three fiscal years. Using instrumental variable regression to address possible common source bias and simultaneous causation, there is strong evidence that an external networking orientation is associated with a decline in city government fiscal health, whether the measure used is perceptual or CAFR-based.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Think good thoughts

Cassandra's Regret: The Psychology of Not Wanting to Know

Gerd Gigerenzer & Rocio Garcia-Retamero

Psychological Review, March 2017, Pages 179-196

Abstract:
Ignorance is generally pictured as an unwanted state of mind, and the act of willful ignorance may raise eyebrows. Yet people do not always want to know, demonstrating a lack of curiosity at odds with theories postulating a general need for certainty, ambiguity aversion, or the Bayesian principle of total evidence. We propose a regret theory of deliberate ignorance that covers both negative feelings that may arise from foreknowledge of negative events, such as death and divorce, and positive feelings of surprise and suspense that may arise from foreknowledge of positive events, such as knowing the sex of an unborn child. We conduct the first representative nationwide studies to estimate the prevalence and predictability of deliberate ignorance for a sample of 10 events. Its prevalence is high: Between 85% and 90% of people would not want to know about upcoming negative events, and 40% to 70% prefer to remain ignorant of positive events. Only 1% of participants consistently wanted to know. We also deduce and test several predictions from the regret theory: Individuals who prefer to remain ignorant are more risk averse and more frequently buy life and legal insurance. The theory also implies the time-to-event hypothesis, which states that for the regret-prone, deliberate ignorance is more likely the nearer the event approaches. We cross-validate these findings using 2 representative national quota samples in 2 European countries. In sum, we show that deliberate ignorance exists, is related to risk aversion, and can be explained as avoiding anticipatory regret.

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With a Little Help for Our Thoughts: Making It Easier to Think for Pleasure

Erin Westgate, Timothy Wilson & Daniel Gilbert

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Can people enjoy thinking if they set their mind to it? Previous work suggests that many people do not enjoy the deliberate attempt to have pleasurable thoughts. We suggest that deliberately thinking for pleasure requires mental resources that people are either unwilling or unable to devote to the task. If so, then people should enjoy pleasant thoughts that occur unintentionally more than pleasant thoughts that occur intentionally. This hypothesis was confirmed in an experience sampling study (Study 1) in which participants were contacted 4 times a day for 7 days and asked to rate what they had been thinking about. In Studies 2-5 we experimentally manipulated how easy it was for people to engage in pleasurable thought when given the goal of doing so. All participants listed topics they would enjoy thinking about; then some were given a simple "thinking aid" that was designed to make this experience easier. Participants who received the aid found the experience easier and enjoyed it more. The findings suggest that thinking for pleasure is cognitively demanding, but that a simple thinking aid makes it easier and more enjoyable.

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Reframing the ordinary: Imagining time as scarce increases well-being

Kristin Layous et al.

Journal of Positive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explored a counterintuitive approach to increasing happiness: Imagining time as scarce. Participants were randomly assigned to try to live this month (LTM) like it was their last in their current city (time scarcity intervention; n = 69) or to keep track of their daily activities (neutral control; n = 70). Each group reported their activities and their psychological need satisfaction (connectedness, competence, and autonomy) weekly for 4 weeks. At baseline, post-intervention, and 2-week follow-up, participants reported their well-being - a composite of life satisfaction, positive emotions, and negative emotions. Participants in the LTM condition increased in well-being over time compared to the control group. Furthermore, mediation analyses indicated that these differences in well-being were explained by greater connectedness, competence, and autonomy. Thus, imagining time as scarce prompted people to seize the moment and extract greater well-being from their lives.

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The Importance of the Baby Boom Cohort and the Great Recession in Understanding Age, Period, and Cohort Patterns in Happiness

Anthony Bardo, Scott Lynch & Kenneth Land

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Twenge, Sherman, and Lyubomirsky (TSL) claim that long-term cultural changes have increased young adults' happiness while reducing mature adults' happiness. To establish their conclusion, TSL use trend analyses, as well as more sophisticated mixed-effects models, but their analyses are problematic. In particular, TSL's trend analyses ignore a crucial cohort effect: well-known lower happiness among baby boomers. Furthermore, their data aggregation obscures the ephemerality of a recent period effect: the Great Recession. Finally, TSL overlook a key finding of their mixed-effects models that both pre- and post-Boomer cohorts became happier as they aged from young to mature adults. Our reanalyses of the data establish that the Baby Boomer cohort, the short-lived Great Recession, and unfortunate data aggregation account for TSL's results. The well-established, long-term relationship between age and happiness remains as it has been for decades despite any cultural shifts that may have occurred disfavoring mature adults.

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In Risky Environments, Emotional Children Have More Behavioral Problems but Lower Allostatic Load

Nadya Dich, Stacey Doan & Gary Evans

Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: Developmental models of temperament by environment interactions predict that children's negative emotionality exacerbates the detrimental effects of risky environments, increasing the risk for pathology. However, negative emotions may have an adaptive function. Accordingly, the present study explores an alternative hypothesis that in the context of high adversity, negative emotionality may be a manifestation of an adaptive coping style and thus be protective against the harmful effects of a stressful environment.

Method: Prospective combined effects of negative emotionality and cumulative risk (confluence of multiple risk factors related to poverty) on children's internalizing and externalizing symptoms and allostatic load, an index of cumulative physiological dysregulation, were assessed in 239 children (46% female, baseline age = 9). Negative emotionality and cumulative risk were assessed at baseline. Internalizing and externalizing behaviors were measured at 4- and 8-year follow-ups. Allostatic load was measured at baseline and both follow-ups using neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, and metabolic parameters. Linear mixed-effect models were used to analyze the prospective associations between negative emotionality, cumulative risk, and the outcomes - allostatic load and internalizing and externalizing behaviors.

Results: The combination of high cumulative risk exposure and high negative emotionality was associated with highest levels of internalizing and externalizing behaviors. However, consistent with the alternative hypothesis, negative emotionality reduced the effects of high cumulative risk on allostatic load.

Conclusions: In the context of risky environments, negative emotionality may offer some physical health benefits.

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Let them eat fruit! The effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on psychological well-being in young adults: A randomized controlled trial

Tamlin Conner et al.

PLoS ONE, February 2017

Abstract:
This study tested the psychological benefits of a 14-day preregistered clinical intervention to increase fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption in 171 low-FV-consuming young adults (67% female, aged 18-25). Participants were randomly assigned into a diet-as-usual control condition, an ecological momentary intervention (EMI) condition involving text message reminders to increase their FV consumption plus a voucher to purchase FV, or a fruit and vegetable intervention (FVI) condition in which participants were given two additional daily servings of fresh FV to consume on top of their normal diet. Self-report outcome measures were depressive symptoms and anxiety measured pre- and post-intervention, and daily negative and positive mood, vitality, flourishing, and flourishing behaviors (curiosity, creativity, motivation) assessed nightly using a smartphone survey. Vitamin C and carotenoids were measured from blood samples pre- and post-intervention, and psychological expectancies about the benefits of FV were measured post-intervention to test as mediators of psychological change. Only participants in the FVI condition showed improvements to their psychological well-being with increases in vitality, flourishing, and motivation across the 14-days relative to the other groups. No changes were found for depressive symptoms, anxiety, or mood. Intervention benefits were not mediated by vitamin C, carotenoids, or psychological expectancies. We conclude that providing young adults with high-quality FV, rather than reminding them to eat more FV (with a voucher to purchase FV), resulted in significant short-term improvements to their psychological well-being. These results provide initial proof-of-concept that giving young adults fresh fruit and vegetables to eat can have psychological benefits even over a brief period of time.

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Exploring the role of testosterone in the cerebellum link to neuroticism: From adolescence to early adulthood

Dennis Schutter et al.

Psychoneuroendocrinology, April 2017, Pages 203-212

Abstract:
Previous research has found an association between a smaller cerebellar volume and higher levels of neuroticism. The steroid hormone testosterone reduces stress responses and the susceptibility to negative mood. Together with in vitro studies showing a positive effect of testosterone on cerebellar gray matter volumes, we set out to explore the role of testosterone in the relation between cerebellar gray matter and neuroticism. Structural magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired, and indices of neurotic personality traits were assessed by administering the depression and anxiety scale of the revised NEO personality inventory and Grays's behavioural avoidance in one hundred and forty-nine healthy volunteers between 10 and 27 years of age. Results demonstrated an inverse relation between total brain corrected cerebellar volumes and neurotic personality traits in adolescents and young adults. In males, higher endogenous testosterone levels were associated with lower scores on neurotic personality traits and larger cerebellar gray matter volumes. No such relations were observed in the female participants which may be due to general differences in endogenous testosterone levels. Analysis showed that testosterone significantly mediated the relation between male cerebellar gray matter and measures of neuroticism. Our findings on the interrelations between endogenous testosterone, neuroticism and cerebellar morphology provide a cerebellum-oriented framework for the susceptibility to experience negative emotions and mood in adolescence and early adulthood.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, February 25, 2017

All on the same page

Trusting other people

Sören Holmberg & Bo Rothstein

Journal of Public Affairs, February-May 2017

Abstract:
The importance of interpersonal social trust is difficult to exaggerate. It builds societies and lowers most kinds of transaction costs. The normative ideal in a society is to have high levels of social trust and a minimum of differences in trust between social, economic, and political groups. These normative expectations are put to a test using World Value Survey data from some 80 different countries. If one had high hopes, the outcome is somewhat of a disappointment. The level of social trust is only on a reasonable level in a very limited number of countries - in the Nordic countries, in the Netherlands, in Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand. In most other countries, the majority of citizens do not trust their fellow man. Furthermore, except for gender and age differences in social trust, which tend to be minor in most countries, there are rather clear (and normatively unwanted) group differences in social trust in many countries, and especially so in established democracies. Citizens with university degrees, in good health, and gainfully employed do trust other people much more than citizens with low education, in poor health, and out of work. Less fortunate and less privileged people across the world tend to have lower levels of interpersonal trust. That is not good for them, and it is not good for society.

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In-Group Favoritism Caused by Pokemon Go and the Use of Machine Learning to Learn Its Mechanisms

Alexander Peysakhovich & David Rand

Yale Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
A large body of laboratory-based research suggests that arbitrary group assignments (i.e., "minimal groups") can lead to in-group bias. We use the release of a popular augmented reality game Pokemon Go to study this phenomenon in a hybrid lab-field experiment. We analyze the behavior of 940 Pokemon Go players randomly matched to other Pokemon Go players to participate in Prisoner's Dilemma games. We find that participants are much more cooperative when their partner is from the same Pokemon Go team, demonstrating an ecologically valid occurrence of the minimal group paradigm. We also use transformed outcome lasso regressions to look for heterogeneity in treatment effects. Machine learning, rather than manual data mining, minimizes overfitting and reduces susceptibility to multiple comparison issues and researcher degrees of freedom. We find one important moderator of the effect: the salience of Pokemon Go. As its popularity wanes, so does the size of the group bias in our experiments. Thus our full set of results show that real-world minimal group bias is quick to arise but also potentially fragile.

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Testing Coleman's Social-Norm Enforcement Mechanism: Evidence from Wikipedia

Mikołaj Jan Piskorski & Andreea Gorbatâi

American Journal of Sociology, January 2017, Pages 1183-1222

Abstract:
Since Durkheim, sociologists have believed that actors in dense network structures experience fewer norm violations. Coleman proposed one explanatory mechanism, arguing that dense networks provide an opportunity structure to reward those who punish norm violators, leading to more frequent punishment and in turn fewer norm violations. Despite ubiquitous scholarly references to Coleman's theory, little empirical work has directly tested it in large-scale natural settings with longitudinal data. The authors undertake such a test using records of norm violations during the editing process on Wikipedia, the largest user-generated online encyclopedia. These data allow them to track all three elements required to test Coleman's mechanism: norm violations, punishments for such violations, and rewards for those who punish violations. The results support Coleman's mechanism.

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Effective disengagement: Insecure people are more likely to disengage from an ongoing task and take effective action when facing danger

Tsachi Ein-Dor et al.

Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: People believe that they can respond effectively to threats, but actually experience difficulties in disengaging from ongoing tasks and shifting their attention to life-threatening events. We contend that this tendency is especially true for secure people with respect to their worldview and perception of others and not to insecure individuals.

Method: In Study 1 (N=290), we examined individuals' reactions to various threat scenarios. In Study 2 (N=65), we examined these reactions using a behavioral design high in ecological validity. In Study 3 (N=78), we examined group-level benefits for the actions of insecure individuals by manipulating asocial behavior in response to an emergency.

Results: Study 1 indicated that anxiously attached individuals stayed away from threats and sought help; avoidant people tended to take action by either assessing the risk of the event and/or enacting an asocial action such as fight-or-flight. Study 2 added ecological validity to these findings, and Study 3 showed that priming asocial behavior responses promoted actions that increased group members' chances of survival.

Conclusion: Results validate the central tenants of social defense theory, and indicate that actions that are deemed asocial may paradoxically promote the survival of individuals and groups.

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The social contagion of incremental and entity trait beliefs

Edward Burkley, Jessica Curtis & Thomas Hatvany

Personality and Individual Differences, 1 April 2017, Pages 45-49

Abstract:
This study examined if people's own beliefs regarding the malleability of traits is influenced by the beliefs of surrounding others. Consistent with the idea of social contagion, people who read a vignette of someone espousing an incremental view (i.e., perceive traits as malleable) were more likely to endorse an incremental view themselves than those who read a vignette of someone with an entity view (i.e., perceive traits as fixed). Results indicated this contagion effect is not domain specific and can spread from one skill domain (e.g., athletics) to another (e.g., mathematics). Furthermore, others who espoused an incremental view were perceived to be more inspiring and therefore more likely to serve as positive role models than those who espoused an entity view. Overall, these results provide a bridge between the largely disparate literature areas of implicit trait beliefs, social contagion, and role models and indicate one potential source for the origination of these trait beliefs.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, February 24, 2017

On the inside

Immigration Restrictions as Active Labor Market Policy: Evidence from the Mexican Bracero Exclusion

Michael Clemens, Ethan Lewis & Hannah Postel

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
An important class of active labor market policy has received little rigorous impact evaluation: immigration barriers intended to improve the terms of employment for domestic workers by deliberately shrinking the workforce. Recent advances in the theory of endogenous technical change suggest that such policies could have limited or even perverse labor-market effects, but empirical tests are scarce. We study a natural experiment that excluded almost half a million Mexican ‘bracero’ seasonal agricultural workers from the United States, with the stated goal of raising wages and employment for domestic farm workers. We build a simple model to clarify how the labor-market effects of bracero exclusion depend on assumptions about production technology, and test it by collecting novel archival data on the bracero program that allow us to measure state-level exposure to exclusion for the first time. We cannot reject the hypothesis that bracero exclusion had no effect on U.S. agricultural wages or employment, and find that important mechanisms for this result include both adoption of less labor-intensive technologies and shifts in crop mix.

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Open Borders in the European Union and Beyond: Migration Flows and Labor Market Implications

John Kennan

NBER Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
In 2004, the European Union admitted 10 new countries, and wages in these countries were generally well below the levels in the existing member countries. Citizens of these newly-admitted countries were subsequently free to take jobs anywhere in the EU, and many did so. In 2015, a large number of refugees from Syria and other broken countries sought to migrate to EU countries (along very dangerous routes), and these refugees were met with fierce resistance, at least in some places. This paper seeks to understand the labor market implications of allowing free migration across borders, with particular reference to the EU. The aim is to quantify the migration flows associated with EU enlargement, and to analyze the extent to which these flows affected equilibrium wages. The main conclusion is that the real wage effects are small, and the gains from open borders are large.

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Understanding the Economic Impact of the H-1B Program on the U.S.

John Bound, Gaurav Khanna & Nicolas Morales

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
Over the 1990s, the share of foreigners entering the US high-skill workforce grew rapidly. This migration potentially had a significant effect on US workers, consumers and firms. To study these effects, we construct a general equilibrium model of the US economy and calibrate it using data from 1994 to 2001. Built into the model are positive effects high skilled immigrants have on innovation. Counterfactual simulations based on our model suggest that immigration increased the overall welfare of US natives, and had significant distributional consequences. In the absence of immigration, wages for US computer scientists would have been 2.6% to 5.1% higher and employment in computer science for US workers would have been 6.1% to 10.8% higher in 2001. On the other hand, complements in production benefited substantially from immigration, and immigration also lowered prices and raised the output of IT goods by between 1.9% and 2.5%, thus benefiting consumers. Finally, firms in the IT sector also earned substantially higher profits due to immigration.

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Inter-firm mobility and return migration patterns of skilled guest workers

Briggs Depew, Peter Norlander & Todd Sørensen

Journal of Population Economics, February 2017, Pages 681–721

Abstract:
Two concerns central to the debate over skilled guest worker programs in the USA are that (1) guest workers are restricted from inter-firm mobility and are “effectively tied” to their firms, and (2) guest workers provide cheap and immobile labor that crowds out natives, especially during times of heightened unemployment. We address these concerns by using a unique dataset of employee records from six large Indian IT firms operating in the USA. We find that the guest workers in our sample exhibit a significant amount of inter-firm mobility that varies over both the earnings distribution and the business cycle. We also find that these workers exit the USA during periods of heightened unemployment. These findings provide new evidence on the implications of the institutional features and debate surrounding guest worker programs.

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Urban crime rates and the changing face of immigration: Evidence across four decades

Robert Adelman et al.

Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, Winter 2017, Pages 52-77

Abstract:
Research has shown little support for the enduring proposition that increases in immigration are associated with increases in crime. Although classical criminological and neoclassical economic theories would predict immigration to increase crime, most empirical research shows quite the opposite. We investigate the immigration-crime relationship among metropolitan areas over a 40 year period from 1970 to 2010. Our goal is to describe the ongoing and changing association between immigration and a broad range of violent and property crimes. Our results indicate that immigration is consistently linked to decreases in violent (e.g., murder) and property (e.g., burglary) crime throughout the time period.

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The Hidden Educational Costs of Intensified Immigration Enforcement

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Mary Lopez

Southern Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The past two decades have witnessed an unprecedented increase in interior immigration enforcement that may have adversely impacted the children of unauthorized migrants—the vast majority of whom are U.S.-born citizens. Using 2000 through 2013 data from the Current Population Survey, we gauge the impact that intensified interior immigration enforcement in the United States is having on the schooling progression of Hispanic youth with likely unauthorized parents. Intensified enforcement raises the probability of repeating a grade for children ages 6–13 by 14%, and the likelihood of dropping out of school for youth ages 14–17 by 18%. Furthermore, younger children are more responsive to police-based enforcement, whereas older youth are more responsive to employment-based enforcement. Awareness of the impacts that current immigration policies have on the children of immigrants is critical in informing the policy debate and in protecting the well-being of children.

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“We Only Speak English Here”: English Dominance in Language Diverse, Immigrant After-School Programs

Melanie Jones Gast, Dina Okamoto & Valerie Feldman

Journal of Adolescent Research, January 2017, Pages 94-121

Abstract:
Past research suggests that community after-school programs (ASPs) are crucial sites for culturally relevant programming for minority and immigrant youth; yet, we know little about how ASPs address language in their programming. Using an ethnographic fieldwork approach, we examine the goals and practices of ASP workers serving immigrant youth with diverse ethnic and language backgrounds in San Francisco, California. We find that, despite the best intentions regarding culturally relevant programming, ASP workers faced funding mandates, capacity issues, and increasingly diverse youth populations, and they adopted English-only policies or simply placed little priority on native-language usage. Ultimately, we observed competing processes related to English dominance: a lack of support for English language learners (ELLs) and bilingual youth, and the use of English as a bridge language across racial and ethnic lines. While staff sought to support and empower immigrant youth, ELL youth were often left on the sidelines and had limited opportunities to develop social capital in ASPs. Without reworking funding and institutional systems for language programming, English dominance may continue as a normalized method of practice in city youth programs.

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Change in birth outcomes among infants born to Latina mothers after a major immigration raid

Nicole Novak, Arline Geronimus & Aresha Martinez-Cardoso

International Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Background: Growing evidence indicates that immigration policy and enforcement adversely affect the well-being of Latino immigrants, but fewer studies examine ‘spillover effects’ on USA-born Latinos. Immigration enforcement is often diffuse, covert and difficult to measure. By contrast, the federal immigration raid in Postville, Iowa, in 2008 was, at the time, the largest single-site federal immigration raid in US history.

Methods: We employed a quasi-experimental design, examining ethnicity-specific patterns in birth outcomes before and after the Postville raid. We analysed Iowa birth-certificate data to compare risk of term and preterm low birthweight (LBW), by ethnicity and nativity, in the 37 weeks following the raid to the same 37-week period the previous year (n = 52 344). We model risk of adverse birth outcomes using modified Poisson regression and model distribution of birthweight using quantile regression.

Results: Infants born to Latina mothers had a 24% greater risk of LBW after the raid when compared with the same period 1 year earlier [risk ratio (95% confidence interval) = 1.24 (0.98, 1.57)]. No such change was observed among infants born to non-Latina White mothers. Increased risk of LBW was observed for USA-born and immigrant Latina mothers. The association between raid timing and LBW was stronger among term than preterm births. Changes in birthweight after the raid primarily reflected decreased birthweight below the 5th percentile of the distribution, not a shift in mean birthweight.

Conclusions: Our findings highlight the implications of racialized stressors not only for the health of Latino immigrants, but also for USA-born co-ethnics.

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Career Duration in the NBA: Do Foreign Players Exit Early?

Peter Groothuis & James Richard Hill

Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a panel of National Basketball Association players from 1990 through 2013, we analyze the determinants of career length in the league. We find that foreign-born players who did not play college basketball in the United States have shorter careers than do American-born players holding performance constant. Foreign-born players who played college basketball in the United States do not have shorter careers. We suggest that both push and pull immigration factors might cause this early exit.

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Earnings distribution of Cuban immigrants in the USA: Evidence from quantile regression with sample selection

Aleida Cobas-Valdés, Javier Fernández-Macho & Ana Fernández-Sainz

Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article analyses the conditional earnings distribution for Cuban immigrants in the USA considering Buchinsky sample selection in a quantile regression model. The test proposed by Huber and Melly to test the independence between error terms and regressors (conditional on the selection probability) is also considered. This is the first attempt in the migration literature to use quantile regression with sample selection. The data used come from the US American Community Survey. The results show that the hypothesis of conditional independence is not rejected, and increments in earnings associated with the usual socioeconomic characteristics in labour studies vary between the cohorts considered. The main conclusions are that a decline in returns from education may be a sign that a high level of education no longer provides a competitive advantage and that being a black person is associated with substantially lower earnings regardless of the individuals’ position in the earnings distribution. This may explain why, historically, comparatively fewer black Cubans have made the decision to emigrate to the USA because of a lack of economic incentives.

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Immigration and the Rise of American Ingenuity

Ufuk Akcigit, John Grigsby & Tom Nicholas

NBER Working Paper, February 2017

Abstract:
This paper builds on the analysis in Akcigit, Grigsby, and Nicholas (2017) by using U.S. patent and Census data to examine macro and micro-level aspects of the relationship between immigration and innovation. We construct a measure of "foreign born expertise" and show that technology areas where immigrant inventors were prevalent between 1880 and 1940 experienced more patenting and citations between 1940 and 2000. We also show that immigrant inventors were more productive during their life cycle than native born inventors, although they received significantly lower levels of labor income than their native born counterparts. Overall, the contribution of foreign born inventors to US innovation was substantial, but we also find evidence of an immigrant inventor wage-gap that cannot be explained by differentials in productivity.

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Green Cards, Patents, and Firm Value

Rahmi Erdem Aktug

Federal Reserve Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
This is the first study to use the approved Green Card Applications (or Certified Permanent Residency Applications) from the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) database, and the first to link the PERM database to patents database kept by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). We find that the number of approved permanent residency applications (perms, as a percentage of total employment) has a positive impact on firms’ value and growth opportunities proxied by Tobin’s Q (TQ). Specifically, a 1% increase in perms lead to a 15-20% increase in firm value. Although we were not able to confirm that more green cards lead to more innovation, we discover that more innovation gets firms more Green Cards. We find that a 1% increase in the patent variable (patents as a percentage of total employment) lead to a 0.03% increase in Green Card Approvals. Our findings carry importance for US policy makers, firms, investors, and academics.

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Immigration and housing: A spatial econometric analysis

Abeba Mussa, Uwaoma Nwaogu & Susan Pozo

Journal of Housing Economics, March 2017, Pages 13–25

Abstract:
In this paper we examine the effect of immigration into the U.S. on the U.S. housing market, both in terms of rents and single family house prices. We model the housing market in a spatial econometrics context using the spatial Durbin model. This approach helps us exploit and capture both the direct and indirect effects of immigration inflows on the U.S. housing market. We find that an increase in immigration inflows into a particular MSA is associated with increases in rents and with house prices in that MSA while also seeming to drive up rents and prices in neighboring MSAs. The patterns observed in the rental and house price markets, along with the larger spillover effects, are consistent with native-flight from immigrant receiving areas.

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Moving to the Right Place at the Right Time: Economic Effects on Migrants of the Manchuria Plague of 1910-11

Dan Li & Nan Li

Explorations in Economic History, January 2017, Pages 91–106

Abstract:
How do initial arrival conditions in a host locality affect migrants’ subsequent economic welfare? Manchuria (Northeast China), which attracted millions of migrants from North China during the first half of the twentieth century, experienced a devastating pneumonic plague outbreak in 1910-11. Using data from a rural household survey in the mid-1930s, we explore how the post-plague conditions in various villages affected migrant cohorts’ long-term wealth accumulation. We find that the migrant households that moved to plague-hit villages soon after the plague ended prospered the most: they owned at least 112% more land than migrant households that either moved elsewhere or migrated to the same village before or long after the plague outbreak. Our results are robust after controlling for factors that influence the long-term wealth accumulation of migrants and are not caused by selection.

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How does the internet affect migration decisions?

Hernan Winkler

Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article provides new evidence on the impact of the internet on migration decisions. I find that an increase in internet adoption among migrant-sending countries reduces the stock of migrants from these locations. The results are robust to a number of specifications, including an instrumental variable approach that addresses the endogeneity of internet adoption. The findings suggest that the internet may weaken the importance of push factors in the decision to migrate, and that these effects outweigh declines in mobility costs.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Do the math

The Labor of Division: Returns to Compulsory High School Math Coursework

Joshua Goodman

NBER Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
Despite great focus on and public investment in STEM education, little causal evidence connects quantitative coursework to students' economic outcomes. I show that state changes in minimum high school math requirements substantially increase black students' completed math coursework and their later earnings. The marginal student's return to an additional math course is 10 percent, roughly half the return to a year of high school, and is partly explained by a shift toward more cognitively skilled occupations. Whites' coursework and earnings are unaffected. Rigorous standards for quantitative coursework can close meaningful portions of racial gaps in economic outcomes.

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General Education, Vocational Education, and Labor-Market Outcomes over the Lifecycle

Eric Hanushek et al.

Journal of Human Resources, Winter 2017, Pages 48-87

Abstract:
Policy proposals promoting vocational education focus on the school-to-work transition. But with technological change, gains in youth employment may be offset by less adaptability and diminished employment later in life. To test for this tradeoff, we employ a difference-in-differences approach that compares employment rates across different ages for people with general and vocational education. Using microdata for 11 countries from IALS, we find strong and robust support for such a tradeoff, especially in countries emphasizing apprenticeship programs. German Microcensus data and Austrian administrative data confirm the results for within-occupational-group analysis and for exogenous variation from plant closures, respectively.

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Demonstrated Interest: Signaling Behavior in College Admissions

James Dearden et al.

Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
In college admission decisions, important and possibly competing goals include increasing the quality of the freshman class and making the school more selective while attaining the targeted size of the incoming class. Especially for high-quality applicants who receive multiple competing offers, colleges are concerned about the probability that these students accept the offers of admission. As a result, applicants' contacts with admissions offices, such as campus visits, can be viewed positively by the officers as demonstrated interest in the colleges. We provide empirical evidence on the effects of demonstrated interest on admission outcomes. Specifically, we use unique and comprehensive administrative data, which include all contacts made by each applicant to the admissions office of a medium-sized highly selective university during two admission cycles. We find that an applicant who contacts the university is more likely to be admitted, and that the effect of the contact on the probability of admission is increasing in the applicant's Scholastic Assessment Test score, particularly when the contact is costly to make. We also use a numerical example to explore policies to reduce the inequity associated with the use of demonstrated interest in admission decisions, examining in particular the subsidization of costly demonstrated interest by low-income students.

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School Spending and New Construction

David Brasington

Regional Science and Urban Economics, March 2017, Pages 76-84

Abstract:
School districts that vote in favor of property tax levies may signal that they are education-oriented. Through Tiebout sorting and housing developer activity, new residents might move to such communities. New retail development may occur near these new residents, and office firms that rely on high-skilled residents might be drawn too. Using regression discontinuity we find school districts that renew property tax levies have a higher value of new construction than districts that do not renew these school expenditures. School tax levy renewal is responsible for 14% of new residential construction and 25% of new commercial construction.

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Peer Delinquency and Student Achievement in Middle School

Tom Ahn & Justin Trogdon

Labour Economics, January 2017, Pages 192-217

Abstract:
This paper studies the relationship between peer delinquency and student achievement in North Carolina middle schools. We define severity of the delinquent act using the associated punishment and calculate the average exposure to peer delinquency. Our identification strategy uses this new measure, a rich set of control variables including student, peer, and teacher characteristics, and a novel instrumental variable that captures the indirect social network impact of peer misbehavior. The instrument uses lagged delinquent behavior from students who went to 5th grade with peers of the index student's current 6th grade peers but not the index student him/herself. A 10 percent increase in the number of "major" incidents that a student at an average North Carolina school is exposed to was associated with a 6.2 percent of a standard deviation decrease in his or her standardized math score.

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Debt and Human Capital: Evidence from Student Loans

Vyacheslav Fos, Andres Liberman & Constantine Yannelis

NYU Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
This paper investigates the dynamic relation between debt and investments in human capital. We document a negative causal effect of the level of undergraduate student debt on the probability of enrolling in a graduate degree for a random sample of the universe of federal student loan borrowers in the US. We compare students (i) within school and cohort, and (ii) across cohorts within the same school at the time of a large tuition change. The latter strategy exploits the fact that students who face a tuition increase in earlier grades end up with significantly more debt than students who face the same tuition increase in later grades. We find that $4,000 in higher debt causes a two percentage point reduction in the probability of enrolling in graduate school relative to a mean of 12%. Further results suggest this effect is largely driven by credit constraints, is monotonically weaker with family income, and is attenuated for students who had compulsory personal finance training in high school. The results highlight an important trade off associated with debt-financing of human capital, and inform the debate on the effects of the large and increasing stock of student debt in the US.

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From the Delta Banks to the Upper Ranks: An Evaluation of KIPP Charter Schools in Rural Arkansas

Caleb Rose, Robert Maranto & Gary Ritter

Educational Policy, March 2017, Pages 180-201

Abstract:
Knowledge is Power Program Delta College Preparatory School (KIPP DCPS), an open-enrollment charter school, opened in 2002 in Helena, Arkansas. KIPP DCPS students have consistently outperformed their peers from neighboring districts on year-end student achievement scores, and KIPP's national reputation led Arkansas lawmakers to exempt KIPP from the state's charter school cap. Yet, skeptics of KIPP in particular, and charter schools in general, voiced a concern that the apparent KIPP advantage in student achievement may have been due to the prior academic ability of the students who selected into KIPP rather than to the KIPP school itself. Furthermore, some KIPP critics have argued that student attrition at KIPP schools accounts for the apparent KIPP advantage. Until now, no prior study has rigorously compared performance of KIPP students with traditional public school peers on matched observable academic and demographic variables or carefully considered student attrition rates at KIPP DCPS. Here, we begin by summarizing prior evaluations of KIPP schools nationally. Next, we carefully examine student attrition from 2005 through 2011, and we find that KIPP DCPS attrition resembles that found in nearby traditional public schools. Finally, using regression models that control demographic and prior academic indicators, we find that KIPP DCPS students gain significantly more each year on standardized assessments than do their matched peers. These results are important as nearly all prior empirical work on KIPP schools has been conducted in urban settings. Despite the fact that many rural students struggle academically or attend struggling schools, we know relatively little about the potential benefits of No Excuses charter schools in rural areas, such as KIPP DCPS.

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The Effects of Academic Incubators on University Innovation

Christos Kolympiris & Peter Klein

Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this article, we analyze the impact of academic incubators on the quality of innovations produced by U.S. research-intensive academic institutions. We show that establishing a university-affiliated incubator is followed by a reduction in the quality of university innovations. The conclusion holds when we control for the endogeneity of the decision to establish an incubator using the presence of incubators at peer institutions as an instrument. We also document a reduction in licensing income following the establishment of an incubator. The results suggest that university incubators compete for resources with technology transfer offices and other campus programs and activities, such that the useful outputs they generate can be partially offset by reductions in innovation elsewhere.

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Evaluating Post-Secondary Aid: Enrollment, Persistence, and Projected Completion Effects

Joshua Angrist et al.

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
This paper reports updated findings from a randomized evaluation of a generous, privately-funded scholarship program for Nebraska public college students. Scholarship offers boosted college enrollment and persistence. Four years after award receipt, randomly-selected scholarship winners were 13 percentage points more likely to be enrolled in college. Enrollment effects were larger for groups with historically low college attendance, including nonwhite students, first-generation college-goers, and students with low high school GPAs. Scholarships shifted many students from two- to four-year colleges, reducing associate's degree completion in the process. Despite their substantial gains in four-year college enrollment, award winners from the first study cohort were slightly less likely to graduate on time than control applicants, suggesting that scholarships delay degree completion for some students. Projected graduation rates using the last cohort of pre-experimental scholarship applicants indicate that scholarships are likely to increase bachelor's degree completion within five years.

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Market Power and Incidence in Higher Education

Mahyar Kargar & William Mann

University of California Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
We estimate the degree of private colleges' market power, in order to better understand the incidence of financial aid (the Bennett Hypothesis). For identification, we exploit a 2011 tightening of credit standards in the PLUS loan program, in response to which enrollment, tuition, and expenditures all fell at colleges where a large fraction of students come from low-income households. We exploit this demand shock to estimate these colleges' marginal revenues and marginal costs, then compute markups. We find that marginal costs are roughly a third of tuition charges per student at the median, implying that colleges have substantial market power in setting their prices. We further document that market power is greater (markups are higher) at for-profit schools, and at schools in states with fewer public schools per capita. Our results contrast prior studies that estimate small markups in higher education.

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Life in shackles? The quantitative implications of reforming the educational financing system

Ben Heijdra, Fabian Kindermann & Laurie Reijnders

Review of Economic Dynamics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conduct a quantitative analysis of educational financing systems in a stochastic overlapping generations model in which human capital can be enhanced through both formal schooling and learning-by-doing. The model is calibrated to the United States economy, including a stylized version of its student loan system. We find that moving to an income-contingent educational financing system, whereby transfers to students are financed from taxes on labor income, generates aggregate welfare gains. Such a system improves risk-sharing among college graduates and incentivizes individuals to obtain more education. These positive effects overturn the negative impact from labor supply distortions. Reforming the educational financing system towards income contingency, however, generates a considerable amount of transitional dynamics, so that welfare gains and losses are distributed unevenly across generations.

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Do For-Profit Managers Spend Less on Schools and Instruction? A National Analysis of Charter School Staffing Expenditures

Mark Weber & Bruce Baker

Educational Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article takes advantage of a recently released national data set on school site expenditures to evaluate spending variations between traditional district operated schools and charter schools operated by for-profit versus nonprofit management firms. Prior research has revealed the revenue-enhancement, private fund-raising capacity of major nonprofit providers. For-profit providers may face greater pressure to reduce operating expenses. As such, we hypothesize that regardless of average differences in staffing expenses between district and charter schools, school site staffing expenditures are likely to be lower in for-profit than in nonprofit managed charter schools. Furthermore, school site instructional staffing expenditures may be lower yet. Applying national, then state-level models to compare spending for schools of similar size, serving similar grade ranges and students with similar attributes (income status, special education, and language proficiency status), we find these assumptions largely to be true. Specifically, on average across all settings (global model) we find that charters spend less per pupil on instructional salaries compared with districts; furthermore, for-profit charters spend less than nonprofits. Furthermore, for-profit charters spend statistically significantly less (p < .05) on instructional salaries, compared with district schools in many states.

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Does Attending a Charter School Reduce the Likelihood of Being Placed Into Special Education? Evidence From Denver, Colorado

Marcus Winters, Dick Carpenter & Grant Clayton

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use administrative data to measure whether attending a charter school in Denver, Colorado, reduces the likelihood that students are newly classified as having a disability in primary grades. We employ an observational approach that takes advantage of Denver's Common Enrollment System, which allows us to observe each school that the student listed a preference to attend. We find evidence that attending a Denver charter school reduces the likelihood that a student is classified as having a specific learning disability, which is the largest and most subjectively diagnosed disability category. We find no evidence that charter attendance reduces the probability of being classified as having a speech or language disability or autism, which are two more objectively diagnosed classifications.

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Do anti-bullying laws work? New evidence on school safety and youth violence

Joseph Sabia & Brittany Bass

Journal of Population Economics, February 2017, Pages 473-502

Abstract:
This study is the first to comprehensively examine the effect of state anti-bullying laws (ABLs) on school safety and youth violence. Using existing data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys and the Uniform Crime Reports, and newly-collected data on school shootings, we find little evidence that the typical state ABL is effective in improving school safety and student well-being. However, this null finding masks substantial policy heterogeneity. State mandates that require school districts to implement strong, comprehensive anti-bullying policies are associated with a 7 to 13 % reduction in school violence and an 8 to 12 % reduction in bullying. In addition, our results show that strong anti-bullying policy mandates are associated with a reduction in minor teen school shooting deaths and violent crime arrests, suggesting potentially important spillover effects.

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Principal Licensure Exams and Future Job Performance: Evidence From the School Leaders Licensure Assessment

Jason Grissom, Hajime Mitani & Richard Blissett

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many states require prospective principals to pass a licensure exam to obtain an administrative license, but we know little about the potential effects of principal licensure exams on the pool of available principals or whether scores predict later job performance. We investigate the most commonly used exam, the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA), using 10 years of data on Tennessee test takers. We uncover substantial differences in passage rates by test-taker characteristics. In particular, non-Whites are 12 percentage points less likely than otherwise similar White test takers to attain the required licensure score. Although candidates with higher scores are more likely to be hired as principals, we find little evidence that SLLA scores predict measures of principal job performance, including supervisors' evaluation ratings or teachers' assessments of school leadership from a statewide survey. Our results raise questions about whether conditioning administrative licensure on SLLA passage is consistent with principal workforce diversity goals.

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Knowledge of Earnings Risk and Major Choice: Evidence from an Information Experiment

Alex Ruder & Michelle Van Noy

Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Policymakers increasingly seek to inform students about the expected economic returns to different college majors. Less attention has been given to the earnings risk of major choice. In this paper, we use an experiment to study the impact of an information intervention by providing individuals with data that show the earnings risk of a major choice. Our intervention allows us to compare earnings risk and major preferences among a group who is informed about earnings risk compared to a group not given information about risk. Our results show that individuals who see information about earnings risk form different earnings risk estimates and preferences over majors than individuals who see median earnings only. These differences show the negative consequences of making academic major decisions when holding incorrect estimates of earnings risk, and suggest the value of including earnings risk in tools such as college scorecards to inform students.

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What Is the Long-Run Impact of Learning Mathematics During Preschool?

Tyler Watts et al.

Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current study estimated the causal links between preschool mathematics learning and late elementary school mathematics achievement using variation in treatment assignment to an early mathematics intervention as an instrument for preschool mathematics change. Estimates indicate (n = 410) that a standard deviation of intervention-produced change at age 4 is associated with a 0.24-SD gain in achievement in late elementary school. This impact is approximately half the size of the association produced by correlational models relating later achievement to preschool math change, and is approximately 35% smaller than the effect reported by highly controlled ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models (Claessens et al., 2009; Watts et al., 2014) using national data sets. Implications for developmental theory and practice are discussed.

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The effects of Greek affiliation on academic performance

Andrew De Donato & James Thomas

Economics of Education Review, April 2017, Pages 41-51

Abstract:
We use a difference-in-differences approach to estimate the effects of Greek affiliation on academic performance. There are strong negative effects in some periods but smaller effects in others: fraternity affiliation hurts performance by .32 standard deviations in the Freshman Spring; sorority affiliation hurts performance by .22 standard deviations in Spring semesters after Freshman year. We estimate both ceteris-paribus effects and non-ceteris-paribus effects which allow Greek affiliation to influence course choice behavior. We account for censoring of grades and show ignoring censoring leads to attenuation bias. We also document heterogeneity in treatment effects by student preparation and organization social status.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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