TEXT SIZE A A A

 

Findings Banner

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Where it was made

A Note on the Effect of Rising Trade Exposure on the 2016 Presidential Election

David Autor et al.

MIT Working Paper, November 2016

"This research note examines whether the exposure of local labor markets to increased import competition from China effected voting in the U.S. presidential election in 2016. It relates the change in the county-level Republican two-party vote share between 2000 and 2016 to the growth in local labor markets' exposure to Chinese import penetration. We find a robust positive effect of rising import competition on Republican vote share gains. The magnitude of the Republican gains is non-trivial. A counterfactual study of closely contested states suggests that Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina would have elected the Democrat instead of the Republican candidate if, ceteris paribus, the growth in Chinese import penetration had been 50 percent lower than the actual growth during the period of analysis. The Democrat candidate would also have obtained a majority in the electoral college in this counterfactual scenario."

---------------------

Foreign Competition and Domestic Innovation: Evidence from U.S. Patents

David Autor et al.

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
Manufacturing is the locus of U.S. innovation, accounting for more than three quarters of U.S. corporate patents. The rise of import competition from China has represented a major competitive shock to the sector, which in theory could benefit or stifle innovation. In this paper we empirically examine how rising import competition from China has affected U.S. innovation. We confront two empirical challenges in assessing the impact. We map all U.S. utility patents granted by March 2013 to firm-level data using a novel internet-based matching algorithm that corrects for a preponderance of false negatives when using firm names alone. And we contend with the fact that patenting is highly concentrated in certain product categories and that this concentration has been shifting over time. Accounting for secular trends in innovative activities, we find that the impact of the change in import exposure on the change in patents produced is strongly negative. It remains so once we add an extensive set of further industry- and firm-level controls. Rising import exposure also reduces global employment, global sales, and global R&D expenditure at the firm level. It would appear that a simple mechanism in which greater foreign competition induces U.S. manufacturing firms to contract their operations along multiple margins of activity goes a long way toward explaining the response of U.S. innovation to the China trade shock.

---------------------

Party Competition and the Inter-Industry Structure of US Trade Protection

Su-Hyun Lee

Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do some declining industries receive more compensation through protectionist policies than others, even without actively engaging in lobbying? How does the political representation of industries affect their chances for protectionist relief? This paper argues that political parties seek to optimize electoral returns through the strategic allocation of distributive benefits generated by trade barriers. The inter-industry structure of protection is thus explained by the interaction between industries' trade preferences and political characteristics. Using data on protection and subnational employment for US industries and district-level election outcomes in the 1990s, this paper finds that the concentration of industries in competitive constituencies not only increases their chances of receiving higher tariffs, but also magnifies the marginal effect of comparative disadvantage on tariff and nontariff protection.

---------------------

The Breakdown of Industrial Opposition to Trade: Firms, Product Variety, and Reciprocal Liberalization

Iain Osgood

World Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article documents systematic deviations from standard models of trade politics, each of which has the effect of undermining sustained efforts at coherent industrial opposition to trade. Industries have internal disagreements about liberalization, support for trade liberalization extends bilaterally across borders in the same industry, and comparative disadvantage industries feature convincing expressions of public support for liberalization. These surprising outcomes are explained by a model of trade politics that emphasizes three factors: firm heterogeneity in export performance, product differentiation, and reciprocal liberalization. The author uses a new data set of industry attitudes about fifteen US trade agreements to show that product differentiation is strongly correlated with these outcomes, even conditional on plausible alternatives. The author concludes that public position-taking and lobbying on trade politics have been fundamentally altered by the rise of product variety; trade's opponents and indifferents have been overwhelmed by pro-globalization firms breaking out to support trade on their own.

---------------------

Effects of the Great Recession on American Attitudes Toward Trade

Edward Mansfield, Diana Mutz & Devon Brackbill

British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Did the American public become more protectionist during the Great Recession of 2007-09? If so, why? During this period, many observers expressed concern that rising unemployment would stimulate protectionist pressures. The results of this study indicate that although increased unemployment did not affect the trade preferences of most Americans, individuals working in import-competing industries who lost their jobs during the Great Recession did grow more hostile to trade. However, even greater hostility to trade stemmed from a variety of non-material factors. Increasing ethnocentrism and opposition to involvement in world affairs between 2007 and 2009 help account for growing antipathy toward trade. But most importantly, increasing anxiety that foreign commerce would harm people in the future, even if it had not done so thus far, contributed to mounting opposition to trade among the American public.

---------------------

WTO Accession and Tariff Evasion

Beata Javorcik & Gaia Narciso

Journal of Development Economics, March 2017, Pages 59-69

Abstract:
This study documents some unintended consequences of the World Trade Organization (WTO) membership by providing evidence on displacement of tariff evasion driven by the WTO accession process. The analysis focuses on the WTO Customs Valuation Agreement (CVA) which limits the discretion of customs officials when it comes to assessing the price of imports. While prior to the WTO accession customs officials are free to use their own judgment or apply minimum or reference prices, after their country joined the WTO they are mandated to accept the invoice price issued by the exporter. If customs officials enjoy discretion with respect to assessing the import price, they may assist importers with tariff evasion in exchange for bribes. Removing such discretion limits their ability to facilitate misrepresentation of import prices. Using data on 15 countries which joined the WTO between 1996 and 2008, we find a positive relationship between underreporting of import prices and the tariff rate, which is expected as the incentive to evade increases with the tariff rate. Importantly, this relationship disappears after a country joins the WTO. This result is consistent with the CVA closing one channel for corrupt behavior. However, we also find that changes to customs valuation procedures induce importers to seek alternative ways of tariff evasion, such as underreporting of quantities and product misclassification. The overall level of evasion remains unchanged.

---------------------

Trade Liberalization and Mortality: Evidence from U.S. Counties

Justin Pierce & Peter Schott

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
We investigate the impact of a large economic shock on mortality. We find that counties more exposed to a plausibly exogenous trade liberalization exhibit higher rates of suicide and related causes of death, concentrated among whites, especially white males. These trends are consistent with our finding that more-exposed counties experience relative declines in manufacturing employment, a sector in which whites and males are disproportionately employed. We also examine other causes of death that might be related to labor market disruption and find both positive and negative relationships. More-exposed counties, for example, exhibit lower rates of fatal heart attacks.

---------------------

Trade to Aid: EU's Temporary Tariff Waivers for Flood-hit Pakistan

Juyoung Cheong, Do Won Kwak & Haishan Yuan

Journal of Development Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper, we study the effectiveness of the first large-scale unilateral trade concessions as foreign aid for disaster relief, i.e., EU tariff waivers on goods heavily exported by Pakistan, which was severely hit by the 2010 floods. Using a triple-difference approach and a synthetic control approach, we find that the tariff waivers substantially increased Pakistan's exports to the EU. The export hike occurred within a few months after the waivers became effective, and did not significantly depress exports by competing countries. While the export boost brought greater employment opportunities in the tariff-waived industries, we find little evidence that the greater labor demands from trade were particularly beneficial to the areas most affected by the floods. Our findings suggest that trade policy may complement traditional means of foreign aid - but trade concessions alone may be inadequate, as the areas most affected by natural disasters may be poorly targeted.

---------------------

Don't Cry for Argentina (or Other Sovereign Borrowers): Lessons from a Previous Era of Sovereign Debt Contract Enforcement

Benjamin Remy Chabot & Veronica Santarosa

Federal Reserve Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
Recent court rulings effectively barred Argentina from international capital markets until she honored previous sovereign debt contracts. These rulings have been criticized by some in the legal community for possibly harming New York's standing as a preeminent capital market and hindering developing countries' ability to borrow. This article asks whether such criticism is warranted and notes that a similar enforcement mechanism was employed by the London Stock Exchange before World War I to deny sovereign borrowers in breach of their contracts access to international capital markets. The pre-World War I era provides us with clues into how the sovereign debt market could evolve in the wake of the Argentina rulings. In contrast to the dire warnings, capital markets have historically worked well when sovereign borrowers face sanctions. The existence of sanctions gave sovereign borrowers the means to credibly signal their intent to repay. By including contract clauses that made default costly, historical sovereign borrowers of less than pristine reputation were able to signal their good intentions and enjoy the benefits of cheap access to world capital markets.

---------------------

Does China's trade defy cultural barriers?

Bedassa Tadesse, Roger White & Huang Zhongwen

International Review of Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using annual data for China and 88 trading partners that span the period 1995-2011, we estimate whether cross-societal cultural differences influence China's external trade flows. Our results, obtained from the estimation of a series of multi-level mixed effect random intercepts and coefficients models, indicate that China's aggregate exports and imports are largely unaffected by the cultural distance between China and its trading partners. Examination of disaggregate trade measures and consideration of the underlying dimensions of our composite cultural distance variable produces a largely similar result. Taken collectively, our results suggest that China's trade is less affected by cultural distance than has been reported for other countries in similar studies.

---------------------

Do International Rulings Have Spillover Effects?: The View from Financial Markets

Jeffrey Kucik & Krzysztof Pelc

World Politics, October 2016, Pages 713-751

Abstract:
How influential are international courts? Can their rulings reach beyond a given case and affect the behavior of countries not party to the dispute? International law is clear on the matter: rulings have no formal authority beyond the case at hand. This tenet is consistent with the incentives of sovereign states wary of delegating too much authority to courts. By contrast, the authors claim that even in the absence of formal authority, the rulings of international courts can affect behavior by mobilizing pro-compliance groups in countries not party to a dispute. They test these beliefs in the context of the World Trade Organization (WTO) through a novel approach. Because WTO rulings have implications for the fortunes of publicly traded firms, they examine whether financial markets bet on there being spillover effects beyond the case at hand. They rely on two quantitative case studies to test for a cross-border and a cross-industry spillover effect: can rulings have effects in countries and on industries other than those at issue in the initial dispute? The results suggest that the answer is a tentative yes. The spillover effects of international rulings may be a matter of scholarly contention, but their existence is something that financial markets appear willing to bet on.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

When and where

Pathogen prevalence is associated with cultural changes in gender equality

Michael Varnum & Igor Grossmann

Nature Human Behaviour, forthcoming

Abstract:
Gender equality has varied across time, with dramatic shifts in countries such as the United States in the past several decades. Although differences across societies and changes within societies in gender equality have been well documented, the causes of these changes remain poorly understood. Scholars have posited that such shifts have been driven by specific events (such as Title IX and Roe versus Wade), broader social movements (such as feminism and women's liberation) or general levels of social development (for example, modernization theory). Although these factors are likely to have been partly responsible for temporal variations in gender equality, they provide fairly intermediate explanations void of a comprehensive framework. Here, we use an ecological framework to explore the role of key ecological dimensions on change in gender equality over time. We focus on four key types of ecological threats/affordances that have previously been linked to cultural variations in human behaviour as potential explanations for cultural change in gender equality: infectious disease, resource scarcity, warfare and climatic stress. We show that decreases in pathogen prevalence in the United States over six decades (1951-2013) are linked to reductions in gender inequality and that such shifts in rates of infectious disease precede shifts in gender inequality. Results were robust, holding when we controlled for other ecological dimensions and for collectivism and conservative ideological identification (indicators of more broadly traditional cultural norms and attitudes). Furthermore, the effects were partially mediated by reduced teenage birth rates (a sign that people are adopting slower life history strategies), suggesting that life history strategies statistically account for the relationship between pathogen prevalence and gender inequality over time. Finally, we replicated our key effects in a different society, using comparable data from the United Kingdom over a period of seven decades (1945-2014).

---------------------

Parasite stress and pathogen avoidance relate to distinct dimensions of political ideology across 30 nations

Joshua Tybur et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1 November 2016, Pages 12408-12413

Abstract:
People who are more avoidant of pathogens are more politically conservative, as are nations with greater parasite stress. In the current research, we test two prominent hypotheses that have been proposed as explanations for these relationships. The first, which is an intragroup account, holds that these relationships between pathogens and politics are based on motivations to adhere to local norms, which are sometimes shaped by cultural evolution to have pathogen-neutralizing properties. The second, which is an intergroup account, holds that these same relationships are based on motivations to avoid contact with outgroups, who might pose greater infectious disease threats than ingroup members. Results from a study surveying 11,501 participants across 30 nations are more consistent with the intragroup account than with the intergroup account. National parasite stress relates to traditionalism (an aspect of conservatism especially related to adherence to group norms) but not to social dominance orientation (SDO; an aspect of conservatism especially related to endorsements of intergroup barriers and negativity toward ethnic and racial outgroups). Further, individual differences in pathogen-avoidance motives (i.e., disgust sensitivity) relate more strongly to traditionalism than to SDO within the 30 nations.

---------------------

Trust and In-Group Favoritism in a Culture of Crime

Stephan Meier et al.

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, December 2016, Pages 78-92

Abstract:
We use experiments in high schools in two neighborhoods in the metropolitan area of Palermo, Italy to experimentally support the argument that the historical informal institution of organized crime can undermine current institutions, even in religiously and ethnically homogeneous populations. Using trust and prisoner's dilemma games, we found that students in a neighborhood with high Mafia involvement exhibit lower generalized trust and trustworthiness, but higher in-group favoritism, with punishment norms failing to resolve these deficits. Our study suggests that a culture of organized crime can affect adolescent norms and attitudes that might support a vicious cycle of in-group favoritism and crime that in turn hinders economic development.

---------------------

Brides for Sale: Cross-Border Marriages and Female Immigration

Daiji Kawaguchi & Soohyung Lee

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Developed East Asian countries import a large number of women from abroad as brides every year, although such cross-border marriages virtually did not exist 20 years ago. With a theoretical framework and empirical evidence, we argue that developed Asian countries' demand for foreign brides is the consequence of improvement in women's economic status and gender-discriminative household arrangements that insufficiently incorporate women's improved status in marriage. We offer sets of empirical evidence in line with our argument, using various macro- and microlevel datasets.

---------------------

Cultural Differences in the Role of Economic Competitiveness in Prejudice toward Immigrants and Foreign Workers

Hyeyoung Shin & John Dovidio

Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study investigated cultural differences in the role of economic competitiveness in prejudice toward immigrants and foreign workers between Northern European-heritage and East Asian cultures. Because economic competitiveness and achievement are associated with core cultural values in Northern European-heritage cultures, we hypothesized that economic competitiveness would be associated with prejudice toward immigrants and foreign workers more strongly in Northern European-heritage than in East Asian cultures. Results based on nationally representative samples drawn from the World Values Survey revealed that prejudice toward immigrants and foreign workers was generally higher in East Asian (South Korea and China) than in Northern European-heritage (Norway and the United States) cultures. However, as predicted, a stronger association was found between economic competitiveness and prejudice toward immigrants and foreign workers in Northern European-heritage than East Asian cultures, controlling for sociodemographic backgrounds of participants (gender, age, education, and income), ecological diversity of each country, values of uniqueness and conformity, attitude toward ethnic diversity, and racism. These findings support the hypothesis that the central values of a culture shape the nature of prejudice within it, including prejudice toward immigrants and foreign workers, and highlight the importance of understanding the cultural dynamics of prejudice.

---------------------

Social Identity and Attitudes Toward Cultural Diversity: A Cultural Psychological Analysis

Takeshi Hamamura

Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior research indicates that there may be a disharmonious relationship between positive attitudes toward ethnic and cultural diversity and social identity within a socially dominant group. Recent work in cultural psychology, however, has implied that this disharmonious relationship may be confined to a specific representation of social identity. This research examined this possibility. Study 1 (N = 51,238) found that the negative association between national identity and diversity attitudes found among participants from Western societies did not extend to participants from non-Western societies. Study 2 (N = 222) recruited American and Japanese participants, disentangled two distinct representations of their social identity - collective and relational social identity - and found their differential associations with positive attitudes toward multiculturalism. Implications are discussed.

---------------------

Can the Culture of Honor Lead to Inefficient Conventions? Experimental Evidence from India

Benjamin Brooks, Karla Hoff & Priyanka Pandey

World Bank Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
Experiments in the United States have found that pairs of individuals are generally able to form socially efficient conventions in coordination games of common interest in a remarkably short time. This paper shows that this ability is not universal. The paper reports the results of a field experiment in India in which pairs of men from high and low castes repeatedly played a coordination game of common interest. Low-caste pairs overwhelmingly coordinated on the efficient equilibrium, consistent with earlier findings. In contrast, high-caste pairs coordinated on the efficient equilibrium at a much lower rate, with only 47 percent in efficient coordination in the final period of the experiment. The study traces the divergence in outcomes to how an individual responds to the low payoff he obtains when he attempts efficient coordination but his partner does not. After this event, high-caste men are significantly less likely than low-caste men to continue trying for efficiency. The limited ability to form the efficient convention can be explained by the framing effect of the culture of honor among high-caste men, which may lead them to interpret this event as a challenge to their honor, which triggers a retaliatory response.

---------------------

Social Value Orientation and Capitalism in Societies

Shibly Shahrier, Koji Kotani & Makoto Kakinaka

PLoS ONE, October 2016

Abstract:
Cooperation and competition are core issues in various fields, since they are claimed to affect the evolution of human societies and ecological organizations. A long-standing debate has existed on how social behaviors and preferences are shaped with culture. Considering the economic environment as part of culture, this study examines whether the ongoing modernization of competitive societies, called "capitalism," affects the evolution of people's social preferences and behaviors. To test this argument, we implemented field experiments of social value orientation and surveys with 1002 respondents for three different areas of Bangladesh: (i) rural, (ii) transitional and (iii) capitalistic societies. The main result reveals that with the evolution from rural to capitalistic societies, people are likely to be less prosocial and more likely to be competitive. In a transitional society, there is a considerable proportion of "unidentified" people, neither proself nor prosocial, implying the potential existence of unstable states during a transformation period from rural to capitalistic societies. We also find that people become more proself with increasing age, education and number of children. These results suggest that important environmental, climate change or sustainability problems, which require cooperation rather than competition, will pose more danger as societies become capitalistic.

---------------------

Adolescent Misconduct Behaviors: A Cross-Cultural Perspective of Adolescents and Their Parents

Marie Tisak et al.

Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The primary goal of the current study was to examine cultural differences in Chinese and U.S. adolescents' and parents' perceptions and evaluations of adolescent misconduct behaviors. A total of 395 U.S. and Chinese adolescents (ages 11-19 years) and 255 parents participated in this study. Each participant generated adolescent misconduct behaviors and rated each misconduct behavior as to the degree of wrongness. The misconduct behaviors were coded into 10 categories across three themes (moral offenses, drugs, and conventions). Results revealed significant cultural differences in a number of adolescent misconduct behaviors. For example, the United States generated more misconduct behaviors in weapon offenses and drug use than did China. These cultural differences were further complicated by an interaction between culture and generation. Chinese adolescents were more likely than U.S. adolescents to use categories of school, home, and social conventional violations, and considered these adolescent misconduct behaviors to be more wrong. However, it was the U.S. parents who considered adolescent misconduct behaviors in these categories to be more wrong than did Chinese parents.

---------------------

The Influence of Culture on Goal Perception: Qatar Versus Denmark

Christina Lundsgaard Ottsen et al.

Applied Cognitive Psychology, November/December 2016, Pages 1030-1041

Abstract:
Expectations of control put forth by societal norms impose a constant influence on goal perception. To examine the influence of culture on perception of personal goals, 124 Middle Easterners and 128 Scandinavians rated their perceived locus of control, generated goals and evaluated goal characteristics. Findings show several cultural and gender differences, most notably in perceived locus of control, unhappiness despite goal achievement and adherence to cultural life script. Many differences were qualified by interactions, suggesting that Middle Eastern men deviate from Middle Eastern women and Scandinavians of both sexes. The Middle Eastern men demonstrated greater ambivalence regarding goal achievement, and contrary to previous findings from other cultural samples, they also showed a significant positive association between internal and external control. Furthermore, goals generated by Middle Easterners showed a greater overlap with their imagined future events, and were largely represented by life script events. These findings are consistent with the view that especially Middle Eastern men experience a greater responsibility for the fulfilment of culturally defined goals.

---------------------

Does the Body Survive Death? Cultural Variation in Beliefs About Life Everlasting

Rachel Watson-Jones et al.

Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Mounting evidence suggests that endorsement of psychological continuity and the afterlife increases with age. This developmental change raises questions about the cognitive biases, social representations, and cultural input that may support afterlife beliefs. To what extent is there similarity versus diversity across cultures in how people reason about what happens after death? The objective of this study was to compare beliefs about the continuation of biological and psychological functions after death in Tanna, Vanuatu (a Melanesian archipelago), and the United States (Austin, Texas). Children, adolescents, and adults were primed with a story that contained either natural (non-theistic) or supernatural (theistic) cues. Participants were then asked whether or not different biological and psychological processes continue to function after death. We predicted that across cultures individuals would be more likely to endorse the continuation of psychological processes over biological processes (dualism) and that a theistic prime would increase continuation responses regarding both types of process. Results largely supported predictions; U.S. participants provided more continuation responses for psychological than biological processes following both the theistic and non-theistic primes. Participants in Vanuatu, however, provided more continuation responses for biological than psychological processes following the theistic prime. The data provide evidence for both cultural similarity and variability in afterlife beliefs and demonstrate that individuals use both natural and supernatural explanations to interpret the same events.

---------------------

Emotions Are Understood From Biological Motion Across Remote Cultures

Carolyn Parkinson et al.

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
Patterns of bodily movement can be used to signal a wide variety of information, including emotional states. Are these signals reliant on culturally learned cues or are they intelligible across individuals lacking exposure to a common culture? To find out, we traveled to a remote Kreung village in Ratanakiri, Cambodia. First, we recorded Kreung portrayals of 5 emotions through bodily movement. These videos were later shown to American participants, who matched the videos with appropriate emotional labels with above chance accuracy (Study 1). The Kreung also viewed Western point-light displays of emotions. After each display, they were asked to either freely describe what was being expressed (Study 2) or choose from 5 predetermined response options (Study 3). Across these studies, Kreung participants recognized Western point-light displays of anger, fear, happiness, sadness, and pride with above chance accuracy. Kreung raters were not above chance in deciphering an American point-light display depicting love, suggesting that recognizing love may rely, at least in part, on culturally specific cues or modalities other than bodily movement. In addition, multidimensional scaling of the patterns of nonverbal behavior associated with each emotion in each culture suggested that similar patterns of nonverbal behavior are used to convey the same emotions across cultures. The considerable cross-cultural intelligibility observed across these studies suggests that the communication of emotion through movement is largely shaped by aspects of physiology and the environment shared by all humans, irrespective of differences in cultural context.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, December 19, 2016

Police report

Police Officer on the Frontline or a Soldier? The Effect of Police Militarization on Crime

Vincenzo Bove & Evelina Gavrilova

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Sparked by high-profile confrontations between police and citizens in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere, many commentators have criticized the excessive militarization of law enforcement. We investigate whether surplus military-grade equipment acquired by local police departments from the Pentagon has an effect on crime rates. We use temporal variations in US military expenditure and between-counties variations in the odds of receiving a positive amount of military aid to identify the causal effect of militarized policing on crime. We find that (i) military aid reduces street-level crime; (ii) the program is cost-effective; and (iii) there is evidence in favor of a deterrence mechanism.

---------------------

Evaluating the Impact of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Self-defense Law on Homicide and Suicide by Firearm: An Interrupted Time Series Study

David Humphreys, Antonio Gasparrini & Douglas Wiebe

JAMA Internal Medicine, forthcoming

Design, Setting, and Participants: Using an interrupted time series design, we analyzed monthly rates of homicide and homicide by firearm in Florida between 1999 and 2014. Data were collected from the Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) web portal at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We used seasonally adjusted segmented Poisson regression models to assess whether the onset of the law was associated with changes in the underlying trends for homicide and homicide by firearm in Florida. We also assessed the association using comparison states without stand your ground laws (New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia) and control outcomes (all suicides and suicides by firearm in Florida). October 1, 2005, the effective date of the law, was used to define homicides before and after the change.

Results: Prior to the stand your ground law, the mean monthly homicide rate in Florida was 0.49 deaths per 100 000 (mean monthly count, 81.93), and the rate of homicide by firearm was 0.29 deaths per 100 000 (mean monthly count, 49.06). Both rates had an underlying trend of 0.1% decrease per month. After accounting for underlying trends, these results estimate that after the law took effect there was an abrupt and sustained increase in the monthly homicide rate of 24.4% (relative risk [RR], 1.24; 95%CI, 1.16-1.33) and in the rate of homicide by firearm of 31.6% (RR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.21-1.44). No evidence of change was found in the analyses of comparison states for either homicide (RR, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.98-1.13) or homicide by firearm (RR, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.99-1.17). Furthermore, no changes were observed in control outcomes such as suicide (RR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.94-1.05) and suicide by firearm (RR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.91-1.06) in Florida between 2005 and 2014.

Conclusions and Relevance: The implementation of Florida’s stand your ground self-defense law was associated with a significant increase in homicides and homicides by firearm but no change in rates of suicide or suicide by firearm.

---------------------

Disenfranchisement and Over-Incarceration

Murat Mungan

George Mason University Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Disenfranchisement laws in many states prohibit convicted felons from voting. The removal of ex-convicts from the pool of eligible voters reduces the pressure politicians may otherwise face to protect the interests of this group. In particular, disenfranchisement laws may cause the political process to push the sentences for criminal offenses upwards. In this article, I construct a simple model with elected law enforcers who propose sentences to maximize their likelihood of election. I show, with the help of the median voter theorem, that even without disenfranchisement, elections typically generate over-incarceration, i.e. longer than optimal sentences. Disenfranchisement further widens the gap between the optimal sentence and the equilibrium sentence, and thereby exacerbates the problem of over-incarceration. Moreover, this result is valid even when voter turnout is negatively correlated with people's criminal tendencies, i.e. when criminals vote less frequently than non-criminals.

---------------------

Dial 911 for Murder: The Impact of Emergency Response Time on Homicides

Thomas Stratmann & David Chandler Thomas

George Mason University Working Paper, September 2016

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

---------------------

Can Homicide Detectives Improve Homicide Clearance Rates?

Anthony Braga & Desiree Dusseault

Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Abstract:
The available scientific evidence on the value of detectives in clearing crimes generally suggests that most crimes are solved through the random circumstances of crime scenes rather than special follow-up investigation. Other research, however, suggests that the work of criminal investigators can increase the likelihood that crimes might be cleared through arrest. After years of homicide clearance rates that were lower than the national average, the Boston Police Department engaged a problem-oriented policing approach to improve their post-homicide criminal investigation processes and practices. Our quasi-experimental statistical analyses suggest that the intervention significantly increased key investigative activities and improved Boston homicide clearance rates relative to existing homicide clearance trends in other Massachusetts and U.S. jurisdictions.

---------------------

Quest for Significance and Violent Extremism: The Case of Domestic Radicalization

Katarzyna Jasko, Gary LaFree & Arie Kruglanski

Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the present study, we applied the quest for significance model of radicalization to explain the use of political violence. According to the model, when people experience loss of personal significance (e.g., due to social rejection, achievement failures, or abuse) the motivation to restore significance may push them toward the use of extreme means. We tested this prediction in a sample of individuals who have committed ideologically motivated crimes in the United States (n = 1496). We found that experiences of economic and social loss of significance were separate and positive predictors related to the use of violence by perpetrators of ideologically motivated crimes. We also found evidence that the presence of radicalized others (friends but not family members) in the individuals' social network increased their likelihood of using violence.

---------------------

Lone-Actor Terrorist Target Choice

Paul Gill & Emily Corner

Behavioral Sciences & the Law, September/October 2016, Pages 693–705

Abstract:
Lone-actor terrorist attacks have risen to the forefront of the public's consciousness in the past few years. Some of these attacks were conducted against public officials. The rise of hard-to-detect, low-tech attacks may lead to more public officials being targeted. This paper explores whether different behavioral traits are apparent within a sample of lone-actor terrorists who plotted against high-value targets (including public officials) than within a sample of lone actors who plotted against members of the public. Utilizing a unique dataset of 111 lone-actor terrorists, we test a series of hypotheses related to attack capability and operational security. The results indicate that very little differentiates those who attack high-value targets from those who attack members of the public. We conclude with a series of illustrations to theorize why this may be the case.

---------------------

The certainty versus the severity of punishment, repeat offenders, and stigmatization

Murat Mungan

Economics Letters, January 2017, Pages 126–129

Abstract:
There is a widely held presumption among criminologists that the certainty of punishment (p) is a greater deterrent than the severity of punishment (s). This presumption is at odds with recent experimental work as well as the implications of simple law enforcement models. This article shows that when offenses may be committed repeatedly, p may have a greater deterrent effect than s, even when each individual offender is more responsive to s than p. This resolves the discrepancy between experimental results and the common belief held among criminologists.

---------------------

Do Street Robbery Location Choices Vary Over Time of Day or Day of Week? A Test in Chicago

Wim Bernasco, Stijn Ruiter & Richard Block

Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, forthcoming

Objectives: This article examines the hypothesis that in street robbery location choices, the importance of location attributes is conditional on the time of day and on the day of the week.

Method: The hypothesis is assessed by estimating and comparing separate discrete location choice models for each two-hour time block of the day and for each day of the week. The spatial units of analysis are census blocks. Their relevant attributes include presence of various legal and illegal cash economies, presence of high schools, measures of accessibility, and distance from the offender’s home.

Results: The hypothesis is strongly rejected because for almost all census block attributes, their importance hardly depends on time of day or day of week. Only the effect of high schools in census blocks follows expectations, as its effect is only demonstrated at the times and on the days that schools are open.

Conclusions: The results suggest that street robbers’ location choices are not as strongly driven by spatial variations in immediate opportunities as has been suggested in previous studies. Rather, street robbers seem to perpetrate in the environs of cash economies and transit hubs most of the time irrespective of how many potential victims are around.

---------------------

Do More Guns Lead to More Crime? Understanding the Role of Illegal Firearms

Umair Khalil

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a detailed jurisdiction-quarter level dataset, I create a proxy for illegal firearm flows: the number of firearms reported stolen in each police jurisdiction, and map their effect on crime in the U.S. Estimates show a strong, positive impact of increased stolen firearms, in the previous quarters, on firearm aggravated assaults, homicides, and robberies in the current quarter. However, no statistically significant relationship is estimated between firearm flows and non-firearm offenses, providing a crucial falsification test. Various other robustness checks, including an analysis of potential spillovers in illegal firearm flows, find no evidence of a spurious relationship driving the results.

---------------------

Decide Your Time: A Randomized Trial of a Drug Testing and Graduated Sanctions Program for Probationers

Daniel O'Connell, John Brent & Christy Visher

Criminology & Public Policy, November 2016, Pages 1073–1102

Abstract:
This study used a randomized controlled trial approach with a sample of 400 high-risk probationers to test the hypothesis that a program incorporating principles of deterrence, graduated sanctions, and coerced abstinence would reduce recidivism rates among drug-using offenders. Bivariate and multilevel modeling strategies were implemented. Findings revealed no discernable difference across multiple drug use, probationary, and recidivism measures between those randomized into the treatment condition and those receiving standard probation. In multivariate models, probationer age, employment status, and treatment participation improved some recidivism outcomes. Programmatic and sample characteristics are discussed regarding the lack of experimental effect.

---------------------

American Serial Rape, 1940–2010: An Estimation and Analysis of the Social Profile of Offenders, Styles of Attack, and Historical Trends as Depicted in Newspaper Accounts

Lauren Wright, Thomas Vander Ven & Clara Fesmire

Criminal Justice Review, December 2016, Pages 446-468

Abstract:
Little is known about the social correlates of serial rape or about trends in offending across time and space in the United States. Furthermore, the limited serial rape scholarship that exists was largely generalized from small, captive samples. The current study aims to amplify our understanding of serial rape by pursuing three fundamental objectives. First, guided by theory and research we propose a new, more precise, and comprehensive conceptualization of serial rape. Next, we draw from media representations of serial rape published in five major American newspapers from 1940 to 2010 to develop an offender social profile and to identify patterns in attack style. Our analysis of a broad and diverse sample of serial offenders described in media accounts (N = 1,037) produced the following profile estimates — age: 27 years; race/ethnicity: African American, 46%; Caucasian, 29%; Latino, 19%; Asian, 5%. Most offenders were employed in unskilled or semiskilled occupations and the most common attack strategy was the surprise approach (47%). Finally, our data allow us to estimate and interpret historical trends as depicted in media accounts. Our analysis revealed low levels of serial rape in newspaper accounts during the 1940s to 1950s, followed by a steady increase (with periodic decreases) leading to a peak in 1991. This peak is followed by a steady and dramatic decline from 1992 to 2010.

---------------------

Impact of Swift and Certain Sanctions: Evaluation of Washington State's Policy for Offenders on Community Supervision

Zachary Hamilton et al.

Criminology & Public Policy, November 2016, Pages 1009–1072

Abstract:
In the wake of the mass incarceration movement, many states must now manage the rebound of decarceration. Thermodynamic forces of the justice system, however, have pushed former fiscal pressures of institutions onto that of community corrections. Encouraged by the positive findings of recently piloted innovations, several jurisdictions have taken great interest in the implementation of deterrence-based sanctioning models when dealing with supervision violations. Among the first to implement a statewide turn to this style of sanctioning, Washington State's swift-and-certain (SAC) policy was implemented in June 2012. The intent of SAC was to expand the model found in Hawaii's Opportunity Probation and Enforcement (HOPE) to a wider criminal justice population, while emphasizing the reduction of confinement costs. This study focused on the impact of SAC with regard to supervision outcomes for participants. By using a quasi-experimental design, we examined confinement, recidivism, treatment, violation, and costs outcomes of SAC participants. Findings reveal that SAC participants were found to incur fewer sanctioned incarceration days after a violation, reduced odds of recidivism, possessed greater treatment program utilization, reduced their propensity of committing violations over time, and as a result, imposed lower correctional and associated costs. The SAC model provides noteworthy positive effects and no appreciable negative impacts on public safety.

---------------------

From Prison to the Community: Assessing the Direct, Reciprocal, and Indirect Effects of Parolees on Neighborhood Structure and Crime

Alyssa Chamberlain

Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the direct, reciprocal, and indirect effects of parolees on neighborhoods, including residential vacancies, property sales, public assistance, and crime. Cross-lagged autoregressive models are estimated using a unique data set containing annual neighborhood information on parolees, crime rates, and neighborhood structure in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, between 2000 and 2008. Results suggest parolees degrade neighborhood structure, and these effects are direct, reciprocal, and indirect. Understanding how the presence of parolees can contribute to changes in neighborhood processes linked to crime will broaden our understanding of the effects that parolees have on communities and highlight additional areas for intervention.

---------------------

The Consequences of Sex Offender Residency Restriction: Evidence from North Carolina

Songman Kang

International Review of Law and Economics, March 2017, Pages 10–22

Abstract:
In recent years, a number of state and local governments in the United States have imposed residency restrictions on sex offenders to lower the risk of repeat sex offenses against children. The restriction prohibits sex offenders from living near places where children regularly congregate, such as schools and daycare centers. In this paper, I estimate the effect of the North Carolina residency restriction on recidivism patterns of affected sex offenders by exploiting a quasi-experimental variation in the timing of the release. I find that the restriction increases the likelihood of a new property crime conviction within two years of release by 2.5 percentage points. On the other hand, the effect of the North Carolina residency restriction on the risk of repeat sex offenses is mostly modest, although the restriction seems to decrease the number of repeat sex offenses among newly-released and young sex offenders.

---------------------

Do Changes in TASER Use Policy Affect Police Officer Injury Rates?

Valerie Womack, Robert Morris & Stephen Bishopp

Police Quarterly, December 2016, Pages 410-434

Abstract:
The addition of TASERs as a less lethal use-of-force option for police officers has facilitated much discussion in recent scholarship. Many police agencies have responded with force policy changes specific to appropriate applications for these weapons. While the goal of these changes is often to minimize concern about injury to citizens, debate rests on whether injury rates for officers are influenced by such transitions in policy. The present study used officer injury panel data from the City of Dallas (Texas) Human Resources Department to assess the impact of a 2005 modification to the Dallas Police Department’s TASER policy. The goal of the study was to assess change in the rate of officer injury after the implementation of a more restrictive policy. We observed a modest increase in the monthly rate of police officer injuries following the policy restricting use. These results were found net of other effects, with some noteworthy between-patrol-division variation. Implications for TASER use policy and future research are discussed within.

---------------------

The Effects of Arrest, Reporting to the Police, and Victim Services on Intimate Partner Violence

Min Xie & James Lynch

Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, forthcoming

Objectives: To estimate the effects of three types of responses to intimate partner violence: (1) reporting of crime to the police, (2) arresting the suspect, and (3) receiving services from agencies other than the police that assist victims of crime.

Methods: We obtained a nationally representative sample of 2,221 victims, using longitudinal records from the area-identified National Crime Victimization Survey from 1996 through 2012. To reduce the threat of nonrandom selection into treatment, we estimated effects using propensity score matched and weighted survival analysis.

Results: Victims’ probability of repeat victimization is not related to arrest (hazard ratio, 0.87; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.55 to 1.40; p = .57). In contrast, the reporting of crime to the police is associated with a 34 percent reduction in the risk of repeat victimization (hazard ratio, 0.66; 95 percent CI, 0.53 to 0.82; p < .001), and the use of victim services is associated with a 40 percent reduction in the risk of repeat victimization (hazard ratio, 0.60; 95 percent CI, 0.44 to 0.83; p < .01).

Conclusions: The results support a model in which the deterrent effect of arrest is not substantively important, but police notification and victim-centered services produce important reductions in repeat victimization.

---------------------

Expressive writing intervention promotes resilience among juvenile justice-involved youth

Chloe Greenbaum & Shabnam Javdani

Children and Youth Services Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Youth involved in child welfare and juvenile justice systems suffer from alarmingly high rates of mental health challenges. In particular, exposure to trauma (e.g., maltreatment) is one critical experience that amplifies their risk for delinquency and recidivism. Despite a profound need to address these youth's mental health needs, there is a paucity of trauma-informed and youth-centered treatments that are clinically feasible in under-resourced residential settings (e.g., juvenile detention facilities). In response to this gap, our research team collaborated with the juvenile justice subsection of a large American city's child welfare system with the goal of creating an intervention tailored to the needs of underserved system-involved youth. The resultant program, WRITE ON (Writing and Reflecting on Identity To Empower Ourselves as Narrators), leverages research on the therapeutic benefits of expressive writing to implement a brief, cost-effective intervention in youth residential settings. This paper describes intervention development and presents findings from the pilot study, which comprised a multisite experimental evaluation of youth (N = 53) residing in short-term detention facilities. This pilot study aimed to: 1) assess intervention implementation fidelity, including participant satisfaction, and 2) evaluate the mental health outcomes of youth receiving WRITE ON as compared to those in a comparison support group (CSG). Results indicated that the intervention was delivered with good fidelity, participants reported high levels of satisfaction, and WRITE ON participants exhibited significant (p < 0.01) gains in resilience compared to their counterparts in the CSG. Collectively, results suggest that a larger clinical trial investigating the effectiveness of WRITE ON with system-involved youth is warranted.

---------------------

Outcome Findings from the HOPE Demonstration Field Experiment: Is Swift, Certain, and Fair an Effective Supervision Strategy?

Pamela Lattimore et al.

Criminology & Public Policy, November 2016, Pages 1103–1141

Abstract:
More than 1,500 probationers in four sites were randomly assigned to probation as usual (PAU) or to Honest Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE), which is modeled on Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (Hawaii HOPE) program that emphasizes close monitoring; frequent drug testing; and swift, certain, and fair (SCF) sanctioning. It also reserves scarce treatment resources for those most in need. The four sites offered heterogeneity in organizational relationships and populations as well as implementation that was rated very good to excellent — thus, providing a robust test of the HOPE supervision model. Recidivism results suggest that HOPE/SCF supervision was not associated with significant reductions in arrests over PAU with the exception of a reduction in drug-related arrests in one site. There were significant — albeit conflicting — differences in time to revocation, with survival models suggesting shorter times to revocation in two sites and longer times to revocation in one site.

---------------------

Self-Control and Crime Revisited: Disentangling the Effect of Self-Control on Risk Taking and Antisocial Behavior

Tim Friehe & Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch

International Review of Law and Economics, March 2017, Pages 23–32

Abstract:
Low self-control is considered a fundamental cause of crime. The aim of our study is to provide causal evidence on the link between self-control and criminal behavior. We test whether individuals with lower self-control behave in a more antisocial manner and are less risk-averse and thus are, according to both the General Theory of Crime and the economic literature on criminal behavior, more likely to engage in criminal activities. In order to exogenously vary the level of self-control in a laboratory experiment, we use a well-established experimental manipulation, a so-called depletion task. We find that subjects with low self-control take more risk. The effect of self-control on antisocial behavior is small and not significant. In sum, our findings are consistent with the proposition that low self-control is a facilitator of crime to the extent that individuals with lower levels of self-control are less effectively deterred by probabilistic sanctions.

---------------------

Relations Between Self-Reported Adverse Events in Childhood and Hypersexuality in Adult Male Sexual Offenders

Drew Kingston, Franklyn Graham & Raymond Knight

Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Hypersexuality, or extreme normophilic sexual urges and behaviors, is a controversial construct that was recently considered as a candidate disorder for the DSM-5 and was rejected. It was also rejected for inclusion in Section III (Conditions for Further Study). Nonetheless, it has been found to be an important predictor of recidivism among sex offenders, and it continues to be discussed widely in the literature. In the present study, we investigated the developmental roots of this construct in a sample of 529 adult male sexual offenders, who were administered the Multidimensional Assessment of Sex and Aggression. Physical, psychological, and sexual abuse experiences were estimated using several scales of early development. Psychological abuse in childhood and adolescence, especially by a father, was found to be the most prominent predictor of subsequent hypersexual thoughts and behaviors. The accumulation of abuse types, however, was also associated with a monotonic increase in the latent trait of hypersexuality. The consequences of these results for conceptualizations of the construct are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ancestral

Male-biased operational sex ratios and the Viking phenomenon: An evolutionary anthropological perspective on Late Iron Age Scandinavian raiding

Ben Raffield, Neil Price & Mark Collard

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper we use a combination of evolutionary theory, ethnographic data, written sources, and archaeological evidence to develop a new explanation for the origins of Viking raiding. Our argument focuses on the operational sex ratio, which is the ratio of males to females in a society who are ready to mate at a given time. We propose that a combination of two practices - polygyny and concubinage - and the increase in social inequality that occurred in Scandinavia during the Late Iron Age resulted in a male-biased Operational Sex Ratio. This would have created a pool of unmarried men motivated to engage in risky behaviours that had the potential to increase their wealth and status, and therefore their probability of entering the marriage market. With high-status men looking to instigate expeditions to acquire plunder and develop their reputations as war leaders, raiding represented a mutually beneficial means of achieving social advancement and success.

---------------------

Monkey vocal tracts are speech-ready

Tecumseh Fitch et al.

Science Advances, December 2016

Abstract:
For four decades, the inability of nonhuman primates to produce human speech sounds has been claimed to stem from limitations in their vocal tract anatomy, a conclusion based on plaster casts made from the vocal tract of a monkey cadaver. We used x-ray videos to quantify vocal tract dynamics in living macaques during vocalization, facial displays, and feeding. We demonstrate that the macaque vocal tract could easily produce an adequate range of speech sounds to support spoken language, showing that previous techniques based on postmortem samples drastically underestimated primate vocal capabilities. Our findings imply that the evolution of human speech capabilities required neural changes rather than modifications of vocal anatomy. Macaques have a speech-ready vocal tract but lack a speech-ready brain to control it.

---------------------

Faunal evidence for a difference in clothing use between Neanderthals and early modern humans in Europe

Mark Collard et al.

Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, December 2016, Pages 235-246

Abstract:
In this paper we report a study designed to shed light on the possibility that clothing differences played a role in the replacement of the Neanderthals by early modern humans. There is general agreement that early modern humans in Europe utilized specialized cold weather clothing, but the nature of the clothing used by Neanderthals is debated. Some researchers contend that they did not use clothes. Others argue that they were limited to cape-like clothing. Still others aver that their clothing was not substantively different in terms of thermal effectiveness from that of early modern humans. To test among these hypotheses, we employed a novel line of evidence-the bones of animals whose skins may have been made into clothing. We used an ethnographic database to identify mammalian families that were used to create cold weather clothing in the recent past. We then compared the frequency of occurrence of these families in European archaeological deposits associated with early modern humans and Neanderthals. We obtained two main results. One is that mammalian families used for cold weather clothing occur in both early modern human- and Neanderthal-associated strata. The other is that three of the families - leporids, canids, and mustelids - occur more frequently in early modern human strata than in Neanderthal strata. There is reason to believe that the greater frequency of canid and mustelid remains in early modern human strata reflects the use of garments with fur trim. Thus, these findings are most consistent with the hypothesis that Neanderthals employed only cape-like clothing while early modern humans used specialized cold weather clothing. We end by discussing the implications of this hypothesis for the debate about the replacement of the Neanderthals by early modern humans.

---------------------

The archaeology of persistent places: The Palaeolithic case of La Cotte de St Brelade, Jersey

Andrew Shaw et al.

Antiquity, December 2016, Pages 1437-1453

Abstract:
Excavations at the Middle Pleistocene site of La Cotte de St Brelade, on the island of Jersey in the English Channel, have revealed a long sequence of occupation. The continued use of the site by Neanderthals throughout an extended period of changing climate and environment reveals how, despite changes in the types of behaviour recorded at the site, La Cotte emerged as a persistent place in the memory and landscape of its early hominin inhabitants. The site's status as a persistent place for these people suggests a level of social and cognitive development permitting reference to and knowledge of places distant in time and space as long ago as at least MIS 7.

---------------------

Wild monkeys flake stone tools

Tomos Proffitt et al.

Nature, 3 November 2016, Pages 85-88

Abstract:
Our understanding of the emergence of technology shapes how we view the origins of humanity. Sharp-edged stone flakes, struck from larger cores, are the primary evidence for the earliest stone technology. Here we show that wild bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) in Brazil deliberately break stones, unintentionally producing recurrent, conchoidally fractured, sharp-edged flakes and cores that have the characteristics and morphology of intentionally produced hominin tools. The production of archaeologically visible cores and flakes is therefore no longer unique to the human lineage, providing a comparative perspective on the emergence of lithic technology. This discovery adds an additional dimension to interpretations of the human Palaeolithic record, the possible function of early stone tools, and the cognitive requirements for the emergence of stone flaking.

---------------------

When bigger is not better: The economics of hunting megafauna and its implications for Plio-Pleistocene hunter-gatherers

Karen Lupo & Dave Schmitt

Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, December 2016, Pages 185-197

Abstract:
Big game acquisition is viewed as pivotal in the evolution of early hominins and is often associated with the emergence of features that are hallmarks of Homo. We explore the energetic justification for the preference for big game under the premise that larger-sized prey is always more efficiently exploited than smaller-sized game. Using quantitative cost/benefit data derived from ethnographic, ethnoarchaeological and historic sources, we show that certain large-sized game (megafauna) are often more expensive to acquire than smaller-sized prey. Comparative analysis shows that African elephants (Loxodonta africana), the largest-sized terrestrial animal, are lower ranked and less efficient to acquire than many smaller-sized animals irrespective of their encounter rates. These data challenge the idea that prey body size can be used as a proxy for profitability and rank in zooarchaeological analyses. Prey profitability, especially for large-sized and costly taxa, is strongly influenced by prey characteristics relative to existing dispatch technology and the range of nonconsumptive benefits associated with hunting certain megafauna. Nonconsumptive rewards associated with these opportunities can only be gained by certain individuals and are not broadly available to everyone. We suggest that the idea of 'big game' specialization needs to be reframed in archaeology.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, December 17, 2016

It seems that way

A Memory Advantage for Property

Peter DeScioli, Nicole Rosa & Angela Gutchess

Evolutionary Psychology, April 2015

Abstract:
People's access to resources depends on their status as the owner of particular items. To respect property, people need to remember who owns which objects. We test the hypothesis that people possess enhanced memory for ownership relations compared to unrelated objects. Participants viewed a sequence of 10 person-object pairs before completing a surprise associative memory test in which they matched each person with the previously paired object. We varied the description of the person-object pairs in the instructions. Across three experiments, participants showed better recall when the person was described as the owner of the object compared to being unrelated. Furthermore, memory for property was better than a physical relation (bumping), whereas it did not differ from mental relations (wanting and thinking). These patterns were observed both for memory of items (Experiments 1 and 2) and perceptual details (Experiment 3). We discuss implications for how people remember other people's property.

---------------------

Oxytocin improves synchronisation in leader-follower interaction

Line Gebauer et al.

Scientific Reports, December 2016

Abstract:
The neuropeptide oxytocin has been shown to affect social interaction. Meanwhile, the underlying mechanism remains highly debated. Using an interpersonal finger-tapping paradigm, we investigated whether oxytocin affects the ability to synchronise with and adapt to the behaviour of others. Dyads received either oxytocin or a non-active placebo, intranasally. We show that in conditions where one dyad-member was tapping to another unresponsive dyad-member - i.e. one was following another who was leading/self-pacing - dyads given oxytocin were more synchronised than dyads given placebo. However, there was no effect when following a regular metronome or when both tappers were mutually adapting to each other. Furthermore, relative to their self-paced tapping partners, oxytocin followers were less variable than placebo followers. Our data suggests that oxytocin improves synchronisation to an unresponsive partner's behaviour through a reduction in tapping-variability. Hence, oxytocin may facilitate social interaction by enhancing sensorimotor predictions supporting interpersonal synchronisation. The study thus provides novel perspectives on how neurobiological processes relate to socio-psychological behaviour and contributes to the growing evidence that synchronisation and prediction are central to social cognition.

---------------------

Beauty is in the belief of the beholder: Cognitive influences on the neural response to facial attractiveness

Ravi Thiruchselvam, Jessica Harper & Abigail Homer

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, December 2016, Pages 1999-2008

Abstract:
Judgments of facial attractiveness are central to decision-making in various domains, but little is known about the extent to which they are malleable. In this study, we used EEG/ERP methods to examine two novel influences on neural and subjective responses to facial attractiveness: an observer's expectation and repetition. In each trial of our task, participants viewed either an ordinary or attractive face. To alter expectations, the faces were preceded by a peer-rating that ostensibly reflected the overall attractiveness value assigned to that face by other individuals. To examine the impact of repetition, trials were presented twice throughout the experimental session. Results showed that participants' expectations about a person's attractiveness level powerfully altered both the neural response (i.e. the late positive potential; LPP) and self-reported attractiveness ratings. Intriguingly, repetition enhanced both the LPP and self-reported attractiveness as well. Exploratory analyses further suggested that both observer expectation and repetition modulated early neural responses (i.e. the early posterior negativity; EPN) elicited by facial attractiveness. Collectively, these results highlight novel influences on a core social judgment that underlies individuals' affective lives.

---------------------

Physical temperature affects response behavior

Janina Steinmetz & Ann-Christin Posten

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Physical temperature can fundamentally affect psychological processes. Among other things, physical warmth typically fosters the motivation to affiliate. We argue that physical warmth can increase affirmative and acquiescent response behavior in psychological surveys and experiments as a result of such an affiliative motive. In Study 1, we find that participants give more biased answers in a memory test in warmer, compared to colder, environments. In Studies 2-3b, physical warmth fosters a response bias toward the affirmation of unrelated items in questionnaires. In Study 4, the effect of physical warmth on the affirmation bias is amplified when the person reading a participant's answers is a friend (stronger affiliation prime) compared to a stranger. Taken together, temperature affects general response behavior by fostering affirmation. Thereby, physical temperature has deeper psychological as well as methodological consequences than previously thought.

---------------------

The stress hormone cortisol blocks perceptual learning in humans

Hubert Dinse et al.

Psychoneuroendocrinology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Cortisol, the primary glucocorticoid (GC) in humans, influences neuronal excitability and plasticity by acting on mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid receptors. Cellular studies demonstrated that elevated GC levels affect neuronal plasticity, for example through a reduction of hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP). At the behavioural level, after treatment with GCs, numerous studies have reported impaired hippocampal function, such as impaired memory retrieval. In contrast, relatively little is known about the impact of GCs on cortical plasticity and perceptual learning in adult humans. Therefore, in this study, we explored the impact of elevated GC levels on human perceptual learning. To this aim, we used a training-independent learning approach, where lasting changes in human perception can be induced by applying passive repetitive sensory stimulation (rss), the timing of which was determined from cellular LTP studies. In our placebo-controlled double-blind study, we used tactile LTP-like stimulation to induce improvements in tactile acuity (spatial two-point discrimination). Our results show that a single administration of hydrocortisone (30 mg) completely blocked rss-induced changes in two-point discrimination. In contrast, the placebo group showed the expected rss-induced increase in two-point discrimination of over 14%. Our data demonstrate that high GC levels inhibit rss-induced perceptual learning. We suggest that the suppression of LTP, as previously reported in cellular studies, may explain the perceptual learning impairments observed here.

---------------------

The impact of cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on learning fine-motor sequences

Renee Shimizu et al.

Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 5 January 2017

Abstract:
The cerebellum has been shown to be important for skill learning, including the learning of motor sequences. We investigated whether cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) would enhance learning of fine motor sequences. Because the ability to generalize or transfer to novel task variations or circumstances is a crucial goal of real world training, we also examined the effect of tDCS on performance of novel sequences after training. In Study 1, participants received either anodal, cathodal or sham stimulation while simultaneously practising three eight-element key press sequences in a non-repeating, interleaved order. Immediately after sequence practice with concurrent tDCS, a transfer session was given in which participants practised three interleaved novel sequences. No stimulation was given during transfer. An inhibitory effect of cathodal tDCS was found during practice, such that the rate of learning was slowed in comparison to the anodal and sham groups. In Study 2, participants received anodal or sham stimulation and a 24 h delay was added between the practice and transfer sessions to reduce mental fatigue. Although this consolidation period benefitted subsequent transfer for both tDCS groups, anodal tDCS enhanced transfer performance. Together, these studies demonstrate polarity-specific effects on fine motor sequence learning and generalization.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, December 16, 2016

Payers

Saying, “I Don’t”: The Effect of the Affordable Care Act Young Adult Provision on Marriage

Joelle Abramowitz

Journal of Human Resources, Fall 2016, Pages 933-960

Abstract:
This paper investigates the effect of the Affordable Care Act young adult provision on the propensity to marry. The young adult provision expanded options for obtaining insurance coverage outside of marriage. Young adults affected by the provision might have less incentive to marry since one avenue for obtaining health insurance coverage is through marriage. This paper examines this question by applying difference-in-differences-type methods using the 2008–2013 American Community Survey. Results suggest that the provision is associated with decreases in the likelihood of marrying, cohabitation, and spousal health insurance coverage and an increase in the probability of divorce.

---------------------

Health Care and the Housing Crisis

Ben Gilbert & Julian Wade

University of Wyoming Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
We show that the percentage of people in a county without health insurance in 2005 is a strong and robust predictor of subsequent home value declines in that county during the housing crisis. Our preferred estimates indicate that a 10 percentage point increase in uninsured county residents in 2005 is associated with approximately 4 additional percentage points of home value decline between 2006 and 2010. We also provide evidence that this relationship was essentially nonexistent in Massachussets, where comprehensive health care reform was passed just before the housing crisis began. Our results contribute to the growing literature on the financial benefits of obtaining health insurance, but we are the first to show a link between health insurance and housing market outcomes. We also add to the literature on the household-level determinants of the recession; considering that uninsured households are likely to pay medical debt with consumer credit or home equity loans, our results shed light on one mechanism by which pre-recession household leverage may have exacerbated the recession. These results have important policy implications as the federal government considers a revision of the Affordable Care Act.

---------------------

The Long-Run Effects of Childhood Insurance Coverage: Medicaid Implementation, Adult Health, and Labor Market Outcomes

Andrew Goodman-Bacon

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
This paper exploits the original introduction of Medicaid (1966-1970) and the federal mandate that states cover all cash welfare recipients to estimate the effect of childhood Medicaid eligibility on adult health, labor supply, program participation, and income. Cohorts born closer to Medicaid implementation and in states with higher pre-existing welfare-based eligibility accumulated more Medicaid eligibility in childhood but did not differ on a range of other health, socioeconomic, and policy characteristics. Early childhood Medicaid eligibility reduces mortality and disability and, for whites, increases extensive margin labor supply, and reduces receipt of disability transfer programs and public health insurance up to 50 years later. Total income does not change because earnings replace disability benefits. The government earns a discounted annual return of between 2 and 7 percent on the original cost of childhood coverage for these cohorts, most of which comes from lower cash transfer payments.

---------------------

Contrary To Popular Belief, Medicaid Hospital Admissions Are Often Profitable Because Of Additional Medicare Payments

Jeffrey Stensland, Zachary Gaumer & Mark Miller

Health Affairs, December 2016, Pages 2282-2288

Abstract:
It is generally believed that most hospitals lose money on Medicaid admissions. The data suggest otherwise. Medicaid admissions are often profitable for hospitals because of payments from both the Medicaid program and the Medicare program, including payments for uncompensated care and from the Medicare disproportionate-share hospital program. On average, adding a single Medicaid patient day in fiscal year 2017 will increase most hospitals’ Medicare payments by more than $300. When added to Medicaid payments, these payments often cause Medicaid patients to be profitable for hospitals. In contrast, adding a single charity care day in the same year will decrease overall Medicare payments by about $20 on average. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced a proposal to shift some Medicare payments from supporting hospitals’ costs for Medicaid patients to directly supporting their costs for uncompensated care. If that proposal is adopted, hospitals’ profits on Medicaid patients would decrease, but their losses on care for the uninsured would be reduced.

---------------------

The Labor-Market Impact of San Francisco's Employer-Benefit Mandate

Carrie Colla, William Dow & Arindrajit Dube

Industrial Relations, January 2017, Pages 122–160

Abstract:
We evaluate a San Francisco policy requiring employers to provide health benefits or contribute to a public-option health plan to better understand the incidence of employer mandates through their effects on wages, employment, and prices. We develop an individual case study approach combining border discontinuity in policies and permutation-type inference using other metropolitan areas. Findings indicate that employment patterns did not change appreciably following the policy, and there is little evidence of significant negative earnings in highly impacted sectors. However, approximately half of the incidence of the mandate in the restaurant sector fell on consumers via surcharges.

---------------------

The Effect of the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion on Migration

Lucas Goodman

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Winter 2017, Pages 211–238

Abstract:
The expansion of Medicaid to low-income nondisabled adults is a key component of the Affordable Care Act's strategy to increase health insurance coverage, but many states have chosen not to take up the expansion. As a result, for many low-income adults, there has been stark variation across states in access to Medicaid since the expansions took effect in 2014. This study investigates whether individuals migrate in order to gain access to these benefits. Using an empirical model in the spirit of a difference-in-differences, this study finds that migration from non-expansion states to expansion states did not increase in 2014 relative to migration in the reverse direction. The estimates are sufficiently precise to rule out a migration effect that would meaningfully affect the number of enrollees in expansion states, which suggests that Medicaid expansion decisions do not impose a meaningful fiscal externality on other states.

---------------------

Screening in Contract Design: Evidence from the ACA Health Insurance Exchanges

Michael Geruso, Timothy Layton & Daniel Prinz

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
By steering patients to cost-effective substitutes, the tiered design of prescription drug formularies can improve the efficiency of healthcare consumption in the presence of moral hazard. However, a long theoretical literature describes how contract design can also be used to screen consumers by profitability. In this paper, we study this type of screening in the ACA Health Insurance Exchanges. We first show that despite large regulatory transfers that neutralize selection incentives for most consumer types, some consumers are unprofitable in a way that is predictable by their prescription drug demand. Then, using a difference-in-differences strategy that compares Exchange formularies where these selection incentives exist to employer plan formularies where they do not, we show that Exchange insurers design formularies as screening devices that are differentially unattractive to unprofitable consumer types. This results in inefficiently low levels of coverage for the corresponding drugs in equilibrium. Although this type of contract distortion has been highlighted in the prior theoretical literature, until now empirical evidence has been rare. The impact on out-of-pocket costs for consumers affected by the distortion is substantial — potentially thousands of dollars per year — and the distortion creates an equilibrium in which contracts that efficiently trade off moral hazard and risk protection cannot exist.

---------------------

Improving the Quality of Choices in Health Insurance Markets

Jason Abaluck & Jonathan Gruber

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
Insurance product choice is a central feature of health insurance markets in the United States, yet there is ongoing concern over whether consumers choose appropriately in such markets – and little evidence on solutions to any choice inconsistencies. This paper addresses these omissions from the literature using novel data and a series of policy interventions across school districts in the state of Oregon. Using data on enrollment and medical claims for school district employees, we first document large choice inconsistencies, with the typical employee foregoing savings of more than $600 in their insurance plan choice. We then consider three types of interventions designed to improve choice quality. We first show that interventions to promote more active choice are unlikely to improve choice quality based on existing patterns of plan switching. We then implement a randomized trial of decision support software to illustrate that it has little impact on plan choices, largely because of consumer avoidance of the recommendations. Finally, we show that restricting the choice set size facing individuals does significantly reduce their foregone saving and total costs. This is not because individuals choose worse with larger choice sets, but rather because larger choice sets feature worse choices on average that are not offset by individual re-optimization.

---------------------

Claims-Shifting: The Problem of Parallel Reimbursement Regimes

Olesya Fomenko & Jonathan Gruber

Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Parallel reimbursement regimes, under which providers have some discretion over which payer gets billed for patient treatment, are a common feature of health care markets. In the U.S., the largest such system is under Workers’ Compensation (WC), where the treatment workers with injuries that are not definitively tied to a work accident may be billed either under group health insurance plans or under WC. We document that there is significant reclassification of injuries from group health plans into WC, or “claims shifting”, when the financial incentives to do so are strongest. In particular, we find that injuries to workers enrolled in capitated group health plans (such as HMOs) see a higher incidence of their claims for soft-tissue injuries (which are hard to classify specifically as work related) under WC than under group health, relative to those in non-capitated plans. Such a pattern is not evident for workers with traumatic injuries. Moreover, we find that such reclassification is more common in states with higher WC fees, once again for soft tissue but not traumatic injuries. Our results imply that a significant shift towards capitated reimbursement, or reimbursement reductions, under GH could lead to a large rise in the cost of WC plans.

---------------------

Early Impact of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid Expansion on Dental Care Use

Kamyar Nasseh & Marko Vujicic

Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To examine the impact of the Affordable Care Act on dental care use among poor adults ages 21–64 in 2014.

Data: 2010–2014 Gallup-Healthways Wellbeing Index Survey.

Study Design: Among poor adults with income at or below 138% of the Federal Poverty Level, a differences-in-differences analysis was used to compare the changes in dental care use in states with different Medicaid expansion and adult dental policies.

Principal Findings: Relative to the pre-reform period and other states, in Medicaid expansion states with adult dental benefits, dental care use increased between 2 and 6 percent points in the second half of 2014, but most of these changes were not statistically significant.

Conclusions: Early evidence suggests that the Affordable Care Act may either not be having a substantial impact on dental care use or it is too early to assess the impact.

---------------------

After Medicaid Expansion In Kentucky, Use Of Hospital Emergency Departments For Dental Conditions Increased

Natalia Chalmers, Jane Grover & Rob Compton

Health Affairs, December 2016, Pages 2268-2276

Abstract:
Access to oral health care is a critical need for the adult Medicaid population. Following the 2014 expansion of Medicaid eligibility in Kentucky, millions of adults became eligible to receive dental benefits. We examined the impact of the expansion on adult Medicaid enrollees’ use of hospital emergency departments (EDs) for conditions related to dental or oral health in the period 2010–14. Based on our analysis of data for Kentucky from the State Emergency Department Databases, we found that the rate of discharges for these conditions from the ED increased significantly, from 1,833 per 100,000 population in 2013 to 5,635 in 2014. Adults covered by Medicaid who used the ED for treatment of oral health conditions in 2014 had high levels of chronic comorbidities and were more likely to be male and nonwhite than those in earlier years. To avoid costly and inappropriate use of the ED, states considering adding an adult Medicaid dental benefit should consider also making changes to assist beneficiaries in obtaining access to the dental health care delivery system.

---------------------

The Evolution of Health Insurer Costs in Massachusetts, 2010-12

Kate Ho, Ariel Pakes & Mark Shepard

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
We analyze the evolution of health insurer costs in Massachusetts between 2010-2012, a period in which the use of physician cost control incentives spread among insurers. We show that the growth of costs and its relationship to the introduction of cost control incentives cannot be understood without accounting for (i) consumers’ switching between plans, and (ii) differences in cost characteristics between new entrants and those leaving the market. New entrants are markedly less costly than those leaving (and their costs fall after their entering year), so cost growth of those who stay in a plan is significantly higher than average per-member cost growth. Cost control incentives were used by Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). Relatively high-cost HMO members switched to Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) while low-cost PPO members switched to HMOs. As a result, the impact of cost control incentives on HMO costs is likely different from their impact on market-wide insurer costs.

---------------------

Dropped Out or Pushed Out? Insurance Market Exit and Provider Market Power in Medicare Advantage

Daria Pelech

Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper explores how provider and insurer market power affect which markets an insurer chooses to operate in. A 2011 policy change required that certain private insurance plans in Medicare form provider networks de novo; in response, insurers cancelled two-thirds of the affected plans. Using detailed data on pre-policy provider and insurer market structure, I compare markets where insurers built networks to those they exited. Overall, insurers in the most concentrated hospital and physician markets were 9 and 13 percentage points more likely to exit, respectively, than those in the least concentrated markets. Conversely, insurers with more market power were less likely to exit than those with less, and an insurer's market power had the largest effect on exit in concentrated hospital markets. These findings suggest that concentrated provider markets contribute to insurer exit and that insurers with less market power have more difficulty surviving in concentrated provider markets.

---------------------

Insurers' Response to Selection Risk: Evidence from Medicare Enrollment Reforms

Francesco Decarolis & Andrea Guglielmo

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
Evidence on insurers behavior in environments with both risk selection and market power is largely missing. We fill this gap by providing one of the first empirical accounts of how insurers adjust plan features when faced with potential changes in selection. Our strategy exploits a 2012 reform allowing Medicare enrollees to switch to 5-star contracts at any time. This policy increased enrollment into 5-star contracts, but without risk selection worsening. Our findings show that this is due to 5-star plans lowering both premiums and generosity, thus becoming more appealing for most beneficiaries, but less so for those in worse health conditions.

---------------------

For Disproportionate-Share Hospitals, Taxes And Fees Curtail Medicaid Payments

Robert Nelb et al.

Health Affairs, December 2016, Pages 2277-2281

Abstract:
After accounting for supplemental payments, we found that in 2011, disproportionate-share hospitals, on average, received gross Medicaid payments that totaled 108 percent of their costs for treating Medicaid patients but only 89 percent of their costs for Medicaid and uninsured patients combined. However, these payments were reduced by approximately 4–11 percent after we accounted for provider taxes and local government contributions that are used to help finance Medicaid payments.

---------------------

Dental Care And Medicare Beneficiaries: Access Gaps, Cost Burdens, And Policy Options

Amber Willink, Cathy Schoen & Karen Davis

Health Affairs, December 2016, Pages 2241-2248

Abstract:
Despite the wealth of evidence that oral health is related to physical health, Medicare explicitly excludes dental care from coverage, leaving beneficiaries at risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease and exposed to high out-of-pocket spending. To profile these risks, we examined access to dental care across income groups and types of insurance coverage in 2012. High-income beneficiaries were almost three times as likely to have received dental care in the previous twelve months, compared to low-income beneficiaries — 74 percent of whom received no dental care. We also describe two illustrative policies that would expand access, in part by providing income-related subsidies. One would offer a voluntary, premium-financed benefit similar to those offered by Part D prescription drug plans, with an estimated premium of $29 per month. The other would cover basic dental care in core Medicare Part B benefits, financed in part by premiums ($7 or $15 per month, depending on whether premiums covered 25 percent or 50 percent of the cost) and in part by general revenues. The fact that beneficiaries are forgoing dental care and are exposed to significant costs if they seek care underscores the need for action. The policies offer pathways for improving health and financial independence for older adults.

---------------------

Mandatory Statewide Medicaid Managed Care in Florida and Hospitalizations for Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions

Tianyan Hu & Karoline Mortensen

Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To investigate the impact of implementation of the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care (SMMC) program in Florida on access to and quality of primary care for Medicaid enrollees, measured by hospitalizations for ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSCs).

Data Sources: We examine inpatient data obtained from the Agency for Health Care Administration for 285 hospitals in Florida from January 2010 to June 2015. The analysis includes 3,645,515 discharges for Florida residents between the ages 18 and 64 with a primary payer of Medicaid or private insurance.

Study Design: We use a difference-in-differences approach, comparing the change in the incidence of ACSC-related inpatient visits among Medicaid patients before and after the implementation of SMMC, relative to the change among the privately insured.

Principal Findings: After implementation of SMMC, Medicaid patients experienced a 0.35 percentage point slower growth in overall ACSC-related inpatient visits, and a 0.21 percentage point slower growth in chronic ACSC-related inpatient visits. The effects were significant in counties with above median Medicaid managed care penetration rates.

Conclusions: Implementing mandatory managed care in Medicaid in Florida leads to slower growth in inpatient visits for conditions that can potentially be prevented with improved access to outpatient care.

---------------------

The Impact of Increased Cost-sharing on Utilization of Low Value Services: Evidence from the State of Oregon

Jonathan Gruber et al.

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
In this study we examine the impact of a value-based insurance design (V-BID) program implemented between 2010 and 2013 at a large public employer in the state of Oregon. The program substantially increased cost-sharing, specifically copayments and coinsurance, for several healthcare services believed to be of low value and overused (sleep studies, endoscopies, advanced imaging, and surgeries). Using a differences-in-differences design coupled with granular, administrative health insurance claims data, we estimate the change in low value healthcare service utilization among beneficiaries before and after program implementation relative to a comparison group of beneficiaries who were not exposed to the V-BID. Our findings suggest that the V-BID significantly reduced utilization of targeted services. These findings have important implications for both public and private healthcare policies as V-BID principles are rapidly proliferating in healthcare markets.

---------------------

Trends in Access to Health Care Services for US Children: 2000–2014

Kandyce Larson et al.

Pediatrics, December 2016

Methods: Analysis of 178 038 children ages 0 to 17 from the 2000 to 2014 National Health Interview Survey. Trends are examined for health insurance and 5 access indicators: no well-child visit in the year, no doctor office visit, no dental visit, no usual source of care, and unmet health needs. Logistic regression models add controls for sociodemographics and child health status. Statistical interactions test whether trends vary by race/ethnicity and income.

Results: Among all children, uninsured rates declined from 12.1% in 2000 to 5.3% in 2014, with improvement across all 5 access indicators. Along with steep declines in the uninsured rate, Hispanic children had sizeable improvement for no doctor office (19.8% to 11.9%), no dental visit (43.2% to 21.8%), and no usual source of care (13.9% to 6.3%). Black children and those in poor and near-poor families also had large gains. Results from adjusted statistical interaction models showed more improvement for black and Hispanic children versus whites for 3 of 5 access indicators and for children in poor and near-poor families for 4 of 5 access indicators.

Conclusions: Children’s access to health services has improved since 2000 with greater gains in vulnerable population groups. Findings support a need for continued support of health insurance for all children.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Providers

Gifts and influence: Conflict of interest policies and prescribing of psychotropic medications in the United States

Marissa King & Peter Bearman

Social Science & Medicine, January 2017, Pages 153-162

Abstract:
The pharmaceutical industry spends roughly 15 billion dollars annually on detailing - providing gifts, information, samples, trips, honoraria and other inducements - to physicians in order to encourage them to prescribe their drugs. In response, several states in the United States adopted policies that restrict detailing. Some states banned gifts from pharmaceutical companies to doctors, other states simply required physicians to disclose the gifts they receive, while most states allowed unrestricted detailing. We exploit this geographic variation to examine the relationship between gift regulation and the diffusion of four newly marketed medications. Using a dataset that captures 189 million psychotropic prescriptions written between 2005 and 2009, we find that uptake of new costly medications was significantly lower in states with marketing regulation than in areas that allowed unrestricted pharmaceutical marketing. In states with gift bans, we observed reductions in market shares ranging from 39% to 83%. Policies banning or restricting gifts were associated with the largest reductions in uptake. Disclosure policies were associated with a significantly smaller reduction in prescribing than gift bans and gift restrictions. In states that ban gift-giving, peer influence substituted for pharmaceutical detailing when a relatively beneficial drug came to market and provided a less biased channel for physicians to learn about new medications. Our work suggests that policies banning or limiting gifts from pharmaceutical representatives to doctors are likely to be more effective than disclosure policies alone.

---------------------

Drug Shortages, Pricing, and Regulatory Activity

Christopher Stomberg

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
This study examines the patterns and causes of shortages in generic non-injectable drugs (e.g., tablets and topicals) in the United States. While shortages for injectable drugs have garnered more attention, shortages of other forms of prescription drugs have also been on the increase. In fact, they follow a strikingly similar trend with a number of important tablet drugs having recently been affected by shortage. This poses important questions about the root causes of these trends since most explanations found in the literature are specific to generic injectable drugs. Using a simple heuristic framework, three contributing factors are explored: regulatory oversight, potential market failures in pricing/reimbursement, and competition. This paper features an empirical examination of the contribution of changes in regulatory oversight to drug shortages. A pooled dynamic regression model using FDA data on inspections and citations reveals a statistically significant relationship between FDA regulatory activity (inspections and citations) and drug shortage rates. This result cuts across both injectable and non-injectable drugs, and could reveal a transition in equilibrium quality that should be transitory in nature, but it should also be interpreted with care given the other factors likely affecting shortage rates.

---------------------

Damage Caps and Defensive Medicine, Revisited

Myungho Paik, Bernard Black & David Hyman

Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does tort reform reduce defensive medicine and thus healthcare spending? Several (though not all) prior studies, using a difference-in-differences (DiD) approach, find lower Medicare spending for hospital care after states adopt caps on non-economic or total damages ("damage caps"), during the "second" reform wave of the mid-1980s. We re-examine this issue in several ways. We study the nine states that adopted caps during the "third reform wave," from 2002-2005. We find that damage caps have no significant impact on Medicare Part A spending, but predict roughly 4% higher Medicare Part B spending. We then revisit the 1980s caps, and find no evidence of a post-adoption drop (or rise) in spending for these caps.

---------------------

The Effect of Tort Reform on Medical Malpractice Insurance Market Trends

Patricia Born & Bradley Karl

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, December 2016, Pages 718-755

Abstract:
In this article, we examine the extent to which the timing of reforms to the tort liability system coincides with changes in medical malpractice insurance market conditions. Our research is motivated by the fact that, while policy discussions and academic research pertaining to the merits of tort reform often center on ex post effects, it is unclear whether reforms to the tort liability system are responsible for softening conditions in a medical malpractice insurance market that was previously deteriorating. Our analysis of tort reforms in the mid-2000s finds little evidence that state-level medical malpractice insurance losses incurred, premiums earned, or incurred loss ratios were increasing in the years immediately prior to the enactment of various tort reforms, making it difficult to attribute the observed softening of the medical malpractice insurance market that occurred in the mid to late 2000s to the enactment of tort reforms. Our conclusion is that, while tort reforms are effective policy tools for lowering levels of medical malpractice insurance losses incurred and improving insurer profitability, there is little evidence to suggest that reforms are an effective method for softening a medical malpractice insurance marketplace that is otherwise steadily deteriorating.

---------------------

The Association between Patient Safety Indicators and Medical Malpractice Risk: Evidence from Florida and Texas

Bernard Black, Amy Wagner & Zenon Zabinski

American Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
According to tort law theory, medical malpractice liability may deter negligence by healthcare providers. However, advocates of malpractice reform often argue that most malpractice claims are unrelated to provider performance. We study the connection between hospital adverse events and malpractice claim rates in the two states with public datasets on med mal claim rates: Florida and Texas. We use Patient Safety Indicators ("PSIs"), developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, to measure rates for 17 types of adverse events. Hospitals with high rates for one PSI usually have high rates for other PSIs. We find a strong association between PSI rates and malpractice claim rates with extensive control variables and hospital fixed effects (in Florida) or county fixed effects (in Texas). Our results, if causal, provide evidence that malpractice claims leading to payouts are not random events. Instead, hospitals that improve patient safety can reduce malpractice payouts. We also study local variation in adverse event rates, in the spirit of the Dartmouth Atlas work on variation in treatment intensity. We find large variations, both across counties and across hospitals within counties. This suggests that many adverse hospital events are avoidable at reasonable cost, since some hospitals are avoiding them.

---------------------

Resolving Malpractice Claims after Tort Reform: Experience in a Self-Insured Texas Public Academic Health System

William Sage, Molly Colvard Harding & Eric Thomas

Health Services Research, December 2016, Pages 2615-2633

Objective: To describe the litigation experience in a state with strict tort reform of a large public university health system that has committed to transparency with patients and families in resolving medical errors.

Data Sources/Study Setting: Secondary data collected from The University of Texas System, which self-insures approximately 6,000 physicians at six health campuses across the state. We obtained internal case management data for all medical malpractice claims closed during 1 year before and 6 recent years following the enactment of state tort reform legislation.

Principal Findings: Closed claims dropped from 244 in 2001-2002 to an annual mean of 96 in 2009-2015, closures following lawsuits from 136 in 2001-2002 to an annual mean of 28 in 2009-2015, and paid claims from 60 in 2001 to an annual mean of 20 in 2009-2015. Patterns of resolution suggest efforts by the university to provide some compensation to injured patients in cases that were no longer economically viable for plaintiffs' lawyers to litigate. The percentage of payments relating to cases in which lawsuits had been filed decreased from 82 percent in 2001-2002 to 47 percent in 2009-2012 and again to 29 percent in 2012-2015, although most paid claimants were represented by attorneys. Unrepresented patients received payment in 13 cases closed in 2009-2012 (22 percent of payments; mean amount $60,566) and in 24 cases closed in 2012-2015 (41 percent of payments; mean amount $109,410). Even after tort reform, however, claims that resulted in payment remained slow to resolve, which was worsened for claimants subject to Medicare secondary payer rules. Strict confidentiality became a more common condition of settlement, although restrictions were subsequently relaxed in order to further transparency and improve patient safety.

Conclusions: Malpractice litigation risk diminished substantially for a public university health system in Texas following legal changes that reduced rights to sue and available damages. Health systems operating in a low-tort environment should work with policy makers, plaintiffs' attorneys, and patient groups to assist unrepresented patients, facilitate early mediation, limit nondisclosure obligations following settlement, and expedite the resolution of Medicare liens.

---------------------

Hospital Competition, Quality, and Expenditures in the U.S. Medicare Population

Carrie Colla et al.

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Theoretical models of competition with fixed prices suggest that hospitals should compete by increasing quality of care for diseases with the greatest profitability and demand elasticity. Most empirical evidence regarding hospital competition is limited to heart attacks, which in the U.S. generate positive profit margins but exhibit very low demand elasticity - ambulances usually take patients to the closest (or affiliated) hospital. In this paper, we derive a theoretically appropriate measure of market concentration in a fixed-price model, and use differential travel-time to hospitals in each of the 306 U.S. regional hospital markets to instrument for market concentration. We then estimate the model using risk-adjusted Medicare data for several different population cohorts: heart attacks (low demand elasticity), hip and knee replacements (high demand elasticity) and dementia patients (low demand elasticity, low or negative profitability). First, we find little correlation within hospitals across quality measures. And second, while we replicate the standard result that greater competition leads to higher quality in some (but not all) measures of heart attack quality, we find essentially no association between competition and quality for what should be the most competitive markets - elective hip and knee replacements. Consistent with the model, competition is associated with lower quality care among dementia patients, suggesting that competition could induce hospitals to discourage unprofitable patients.

---------------------

Association Between the Opening of Retail Clinics and Low-Acuity Emergency Department Visits

Grant Martsolf et al.

Annals of Emergency Medicine, forthcoming

Methods: We used data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Emergency Department Databases for 2,053 EDs in 23 states from 2007 to 2012. We used Poisson regression models to examine the association between retail clinic penetration and the rate of ED visits for 11 low-acuity conditions. Retail clinic "penetration" was measured as the percentage of the ED catchment area that overlapped with the 10-minute drive radius of a retail clinic. Rate ratios were calculated for a 10-percentage-point increase in retail clinic penetration per quarter. During the course of a year, this represents the effect of an increase in retail clinic penetration rate from 0% to 40%, which was approximately the average penetration rate observed in 2012.

Results: Among all patients, retail clinic penetration was not associated with a reduced rate of low-acuity ED visits (rate ratio=0.999; 95% confidence interval=0.997 to 1.000). Among patients with private insurance, there was a slight decrease in low-acuity ED visits (rate ratio=0.997; 95% confidence interval=0.994 to 0.999). For the average ED in a given quarter, this would equal a 0.3% reduction (95% confidence interval 0.1% to 0.6%) in low-acuity ED visits among the privately insured if retail clinic penetration rate increased by 10 percentage points per quarter.

Conclusion: With increased patient demand resulting from the expansion of health insurance coverage, retail clinics may emerge as an important care location, but to date, they have not been associated with a meaningful reduction in low-acuity ED visits.

---------------------

Do Good Reports Mean Higher Prices? The Impact of Hospital Compare Ratings on Cardiac Pricing

Avi Dor, William Encinosa & Kathleen Carey

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Previous research found that the initiation of Hospital Compare (HC) quality reporting had little impact on patient outcomes. However little is known about its impact on hospital prices, which may be significant since insurers are positioned to respond to quality information when engaging hospitals in price negotiations. To explore this issue we estimate variants of difference-in-difference models allowing HC impacts to vary by levels of quality scores. We separately examine the effects of the three main scores (heart attack, heart failure, and combined mortalities) on transaction prices of two related cardiac procedures: bypass surgery and angioplasty. States which had mandated reporting systems preceding HC form the control group. Analyzing claims data of privately insured patients, we find that HC exerted downward pressure on prices, which we attribute to competitive pressures. However, hospitals ranked "above average" captured higher prices, thereby offsetting the overall policy effect. We conclude that HC was effective at constraining prices without penalizing high performers.

---------------------

Physician Agency and Patient Survival

Mireille Jacobson et al.

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the role of physician agency in determining health care supply and patient outcomes. We show that an increase in health care supply due to a change in private physician incentives has a theoretically ambiguous impact on patient welfare. The increase can reflect either induced demand for ineffective care or a reduction in prior rationing of effective care. Furthermore, physician market structure matters in determining the welfare effects of changes in private physician incentives. We then analyze a change to Medicare fees that caused physicians to increase their provision of chemotherapy. We find that this increase in treatment improved patient survival, extending median life expectancy for lung cancer patients by about 18%. Consistent with the model, we find that while the treatment response was larger in less concentrated markets, survival improvements were larger in more concentrated markets.

---------------------

The Effect of Performance Standards on Health Care Provider Behavior: Evidence from Kidney Transplantation

Sarah Stith & Richard Hirth

Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Winter 2016, Pages 789-825

Abstract:
Performance standards are designed to ensure a basic level of quality, and through public reporting of firm performance, encourage firms to compete on quality thus allowing the market to determine the optimal level of quality. In markets with substantial excess demand, however, demand effects may be insufficient to induce any change in firm behavior and enforcement may be required to ensure high quality. Even with enforcement, quality still may not improve at underperforming firms if gaming the system is less costly than improving quality. We test whether information alone or with regulatory enforcement improves outcomes or elicits gaming behavior in our study of 266 kidney transplant centers between 2001 and 2012. In a context of excess demand induced by price controls, we show that information alone has no impact and enforcement may actually increase market inefficiencies; firms respond to costly quality requirements, not by improving quality, but by reducing supply, which exacerbates the disequilibrium between supply and demand, and by cream-skimming, which reduces access to transplantation among sicker patients.

---------------------

Does Health IT Adoption Lead to Better Information or Worse Incentives?

Gautam Gowrisankaran, Keith Joiner & Jianjing Lin

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
We evaluate whether hospital adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) leads to increases in billing where financial gains are large or where hassle costs of complete coding are low. The 2007 Medicare payment reform varied both financial incentives and hassle costs of coding. We find no significant impact of financial incentives on billing levels, inconsistent with bill inflation. However, the reform led to increases in reported severity for medical relative to surgical patients at EMR hospitals, consistent with EMRs decreasing coding costs for medical patients. Greater post-reform completeness of coding with EMRs may increase Medicare costs by $689.6 million annually.

---------------------

Expanded Scopes Of Practice For Dental Hygienists Associated With Improved Oral Health Outcomes For Adults

Margaret Langelier et al.

Health Affairs, December 2016, Pages 2207-2215

Abstract:
Dental hygienists are important members of the oral health care team, providing preventive and prophylactic services and oral health education. However, scope-of-practice parameters in some states limit their ability to provide needed services effectively. In 2001 we developed the Dental Hygiene Professional Practice Index, a numerical tool to measure the state-level professional practice environment for dental hygienists. We used the index to score state-level scopes of practice in all fifty states and the District of Columbia in 2001 and 2014. The mean composite score on the index increased from 43.5 in 2001 to 57.6 in 2014, on a 100-point scale. We also analyzed the association of each state's composite score with an oral health outcome: tooth extractions among the adult population because of decay or disease. After we controlled for individual- and state-level factors, we found in multilevel modeling that more autonomous dental hygienist scope of practice had a positive and significant association with population oral health in both 2001 and 2014.

---------------------

The Effect of Certificate of Need Laws on All-Cause Mortality

James Bailey

Health Services Research, forthcoming

Data Sources: The data of 1992-2011 all-cause mortality are from the Center for Disease Control's Compressed Mortality File; control variables are from the Current Population Survey, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and Area Health Resources File; and data on Certificate of Need laws are from Stratmann and Russ (2014).

Study design: Using fixed- and random-effects regressions, I test how the scope of state Certificate of Need laws affects all-cause mortality within US counties.

Principal Findings: Certificate of Need laws have no statistically significant effect on all-cause mortality. Point estimates indicate that if they have any effect, they are more likely to increase mortality than decrease it.

Conclusions: Proponents of Certificate of Need laws have claimed that they reduce mortality by concentrating more care into fewer, larger facilities that engage in learning-by-doing. However, I find no evidence that these laws reduce all-cause mortality.

---------------------

To What Extent Are State Scope of Practice Laws Related to Nurse Practitioners' Day-to-Day Practice Autonomy?

Jeongyoung Park et al.

Medical Care Research and Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explore the extent to which state scope of practice laws are related to nurse practitioners (NPs)' day-to-day practice autonomy. We found that NPs experienced greater day-to-day practice autonomy when they had prescriptive independence. Surprisingly, there were only small and largely insignificant differences in day-to-day practice autonomy between NPs in fully restricted states and those in states with independent practice but restricted prescription authority. The scope of practice effects were strong for primary care NPs. We also found that the amount of variation in day-to-day practice autonomy within the scope of practice categories existed, which suggests that factors other than state scope of practice laws may influence NP practice as well. Removing barriers at all levels that potentially prevent NPs from practicing to the full extent of their education and training is critical not only to increase primary care capacity but also to make NPs more efficient and effective providers.

---------------------

Geographical Distribution of Emergency Department Closures and Consequences on Heart Attack Patients

Yu-Chu Shen & Renee Hsia

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
We develop a conceptual framework and empirically investigate how a permanent emergency department (ED) closure affects patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). We first document that large increases in driving time to closest ED are more likely to happen in low-income communities and communities that had fewer medical resources at baseline. Then using a difference-in-differences design, we estimate the effect of an ED closure on access to cardiac care technology, treatment, and health outcomes among Medicare patients with AMI who lived in 24,567 ZIP codes that experienced no change, an increase of <10 minutes, 10 to <30 minutes, and ?30 minutes in driving time to their closest ED. Overall, access to cardiac care declined in all communities experiencing a closure, with access to a coronary care unit decreasing by 18.64 percentage points (95% CI -30.15, -7.12) for those experiencing ?30-minute increase in driving time. Even after controlling for access to technology and treatment, patients with the longest delays experienced a 6.58 (95% CI 2.49, 10.68) and 6.52 (95% CI 1.69, 11.35) percentage point increase in 90-day and 1-year mortality, respectively, compared with those not experiencing changes in distance. Our results also suggest that the predominant mechanism behind the mortality increase appeared to be time delay as opposed to availability of specialized cardiac treatment.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Jobs lost and found

Do Recessions Accelerate Routine-Biased Technological Change? Evidence from Vacancy Postings

Brad Hershbein & Lisa Kahn

NBER Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
We show that skill requirements in job vacancy postings differentially increased in MSAs that were hit hard by the Great Recession, relative to less hard-hit areas, and that these differences across MSAs persist through the end of 2015. The increases are prevalent within occupations, more pronounced in the non-traded sector, driven by both within-firm upskilling and substitution from older to newer firms, accompanied by increases in capital stock, and are evident in realized employment. We argue that this evidence reflects the restructuring of production toward more-skilled workers and routine-labor saving technologies, and that the Great Recession accelerated this process.

---------------------

A New Approach to the Study of Jobless Recoveries

Fabio Méndez, Jared Reber & Jeremy Schwartz

Southern Economic Journal, October 2016, Pages 573–589

Abstract:
This article is concerned with the measurement of jobless recoveries and the elements that may explain their emergence. We first introduce a measure that maps the various elements that define a jobless recovery into a single number that we label the jobless recovery depth. We then construct a database of 389 state-level observations and study the cross-sectional variations that emerge. We find that jobless recoveries in the United States are not nation-wide phenomena, but a local event confined within a cluster of states that expands slowly between 1975 and 2015. We find the state-level evidence to be consistent with theories that link jobless recoveries to unusually long expansionary periods, less dynamic labor markets, and the advent of the great moderation. The evidence is not consistent with theories that link them to decreases in union power, increases in income inequality, or increases in health care costs.

---------------------

Disappearing Routine Jobs: Who, How, and Why?

Guido Matias Cortes, Nir Jaimovich & Henry Siu

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
We study the deterioration of employment in middle-wage, routine occupations in the United States in the last 35 years. The decline is primarily driven by changes in the propensity to work in routine jobs for individuals from a small set of demographic groups. These same groups account for a substantial fraction of both the increase in non-employment and employment in low-wage, non-routine manual occupations observed during the same time period. We analyze a general neoclassical model of the labor market featuring endogenous participation and occupation choice. We show that in response to an increase in automation technology, the model embodies an important tradeoff between reallocating employment across occupations and reallocation of workers towards non-employment. Quantitatively, we find that advances in automation technology on their own account for a relatively small portion of the joint decline in routine employment and associated rise in non-routine manual employment and non-employment.

---------------------

U.S. Productivity Growth Flowing Downstream

Michael Sposi & Kelvinder Virdi

Federal Reserve Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
Measurements of U.S. productivity growth have declined, particularly in the high-tech sector. This may reflect increased U.S. specialization in upstream activities in the global supply chain. Those activities tend to experience slower productivity growth.

---------------------

Raising the standard: Minimum wages and firm productivity

Rebecca Riley & Chiara Rosazza Bondibene

Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper exploits the introduction of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in Britain and subsequent increases in the NMW to identify the effects of minimum wages on productivity. We find that the NMW increased average labour costs for companies that tend to employ low paid workers, both upon the introduction of the NMW and more recently following the Great Recession when many workers experienced pay freezes or wage cuts, but the NMW continued to rise. We find evidence to suggest that companies responded to these increases in labour costs by raising labour productivity. These labour productivity changes did not appear to come about via a reduction in firms' workforce or via capital-labour substitution. Rather they were associated with increases in total factor productivity, as theories of organisational change, training and efficiency wages would suggest.

---------------------

An Analysis of the Labor Market for Uber's Driver-Partners in the United States

Jonathan Hall & Alan Krueger

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Uber, the ride-sharing company launched in 2010, has grown at an exponential rate. This paper provides the first comprehensive analysis of the labor market for Uber’s driver-partners, based on both survey and administrative data. Drivers who partner with Uber appear to be attracted to the platform largely because of the flexibility it offers, the level of compensation, and the fact that earnings per hour do not vary much with the number of hours worked. Uber’s driver-partners are more similar in terms of their age and education to the general workforce than to taxi drivers and chauffeurs. Most of Uber’s driver-partners had full- or part-time employment prior to joining Uber, and many continued in those positions after starting to drive with the Uber platform, which makes the flexibility to set their own hours all the more valuable. Uber’s driver-partners also often cited the desire to smooth fluctuations in their income as a reason for partnering with Uber.

---------------------

Forming Wage Expectations through Learning: Evidence from College Major Choices

Xiaoyu Xia

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, December 2016, Pages 176–196

Abstract:
How do college students choose their majors, and what role does the family play in their choices? I use data from two major longitudinal surveys to develop and estimate a model in which students learn about earning opportunities associated with different majors through the wages of older siblings and parents. The probability of a student choosing a major that corresponds to the occupation of a family member is strongly correlated with the family member's wage at the time the major choice is made. This correlation remains strong after controlling for family-correlated abilities or preferences, and additional empirical evidence suggests that the observed correlation arises through a family-based wage information channel.

---------------------

Human capital and unemployment dynamics: Why more-educated workers enjoy greater employment stability

Isabel Cairó & Tomaz Cajner

Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do more-educated workers experience lower unemployment rates and lower employment volatility? Empirically, these workers have similar job finding rates but much lower and less volatile separation rates than their less-educated peers. We argue that on-the-job training, being complementary to formal education, is the reason for this pattern. Using a search and matching model with endogenous separations, we show that investments in match-specific human capital reduce incentives to separate but leave the job finding rate essentially unaffected. The model generates unemployment dynamics quantitatively consistent with the data. Finally, we provide novel empirical evidence supporting the mechanism studied in the paper.

---------------------

Agglomeration, Urban Wage Premiums, and College Majors

Shimeng Liu

Journal of Regional Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The aim of this paper is to examine the manner and extent to which worker skill type affects agglomeration economies that contribute to productivity in cities. I use college majors to proxy for skill types among workers with a bachelor's degree. Workers with college training in information-oriented and technical fields (e.g., STEM areas such as engineering, physical sciences, and economics) are associated with economically important within-field agglomeration economies and also generate sizeable spillovers for workers in other fields. In contrast, within-field and across-field spillovers for workers with college training in the arts and humanities are much smaller and often nonexistent. While previous research suggests proximity to college-educated workers enhances productivity, these findings suggest that not all college-educated workers are alike. Instead, positive spillover effects appear to derive mostly from proximity to workers with college training in information-oriented and technical fields.

---------------------

Gender, race & the veteran wage gap

Brandon Vick & Gabrielle Fontanella

Social Science Research, January 2017, Pages 11–28

Abstract:
This paper analyzes earnings outcomes of Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans. We utilize the 2009–2013 American Community Survey and a worker-matching methodology to decompose wage differences between veteran and non-veteran workers. Among fully-employed, 25-40 year-olds, veteran workers make 3% less than non-veteran workers. While male veterans make 9% less than non-veterans, female and black veterans experience a wage premium (2% and 7% respectively). Decomposition of the earnings gap identifies some of its sources. Relatively higher rates of disability and lower rates of educational attainment serve to increase the overall wage penalty against veterans. However, veterans work less in low-paying occupations than non-veterans, serving to reduce the wage penalty. Finally, among male and white subgroups, non-veterans earn more in the top quintile due largely to having higher educational attainment and greater representation in higher-paying occupations, such as management.

---------------------

The Impact of Consumer Credit Access on Employment, Earnings and Entrepreneurship

Kyle Herkenhoff, Gordon Phillips & Ethan Cohen-Cole

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
How does consumer credit access impact job flows, earnings, and entrepreneurship? To answer this question, we build a new administrative dataset which links individual employment and entrepreneur tax records to TransUnion credit reports, and we exploit the discrete increase in consumer credit access following bankruptcy flag removal. After flag removal, individuals flow into self-employment. New entrants earn more, borrow significantly using unsecured and secured consumer credit, and are more likely to become an employer business. In addition, after flag removal, non-employed and self-employed individuals are more likely to find unemployment-insured "formal" jobs at larger firms that pay greater wages. These estimates imply that firms believe previously bankrupt workers are 3.8% less productive than non-bankrupt workers, on average. These results suggest that consumer credit access matters for each stage of entrepreneurship and that credit-checks may be limiting formal sector employment opportunities.

---------------------

Locked in by Leverage: Job Search during the Housing Crisis

Jennifer Brown & David Matsa

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
This paper examines how housing market distress affects job search. Using data from a leading online job search platform during the Great Recession, we find that job seekers in areas with depressed housing markets apply for fewer jobs that require relocation. With their search constrained geographically, job seekers broaden their search to lower level positions nearby. These effects are stronger for job seekers with recourse mortgages, which we confirm using spatial regression discontinuity analysis. Our findings suggest that housing market distress distorts labor market outcomes by impeding household mobility.

---------------------

The Immediate Hardship of Unemployment: Evidence from the US Unemployment Insurance System

Mark Stater & Jeffrey Wenger

Eastern Economic Journal, January 2017, Pages 17–36

Abstract:
We examine how the reservation wage varies with the waiting time to apply for unemployment benefits. We find that the waiting time has a negative effect on the reservation wage, suggesting that unemployment generates significant and immediate harm for the unemployed. Our results are unique in that they are based on short-term, incomplete spells of unemployment that are precisely measured in weeks. We address the endogeneity of the waiting time using instrumental variables associated with errors in the unemployment insurance (UI) claim, and note that our estimates are likely a lower bound for the welfare declines experienced by the unemployed.

---------------------

Swept Out: Measuring Rurality and Migration Intentions on the Upper Great Plains

Jeffrey Jacquet, Eric Guthrie & Hayven Jackson

Rural Sociology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Rural America has long been conceptualized as a place of out-migration, a process that is the subject of many popular sociological works and remains a dominating narrative that describes rural life in the United States today. Population trends demonstrate this migration pattern for nearly the past century; however, emerging data paint a complex picture of migration behavior and intentions in rural areas. In this article, we utilize several measures of rurality to analyze the results of a 2012 mail survey (n = 2487) that describe the migration intentions of both rural and urban South Dakotans. Our findings show that urban residents are more likely to have intentions to migrate than rural residents, and that drivers of migration intentions appear similar in both urban and rural contexts. The survey also sheds light on the influence of community attachment, community satisfaction, quality of life, and other community strengths and weaknesses that rural and urban residents perceive in their communities. Supporting recent research on rural migration intentions, these results do not suggest high rates of out-migration in rural areas. We discuss rural America's recent identity as a place of out-migration, share our survey results, and discuss implications for future rural migration research.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dose of reality

The Heroin Overdose Mystery

Shepard Siegel

Current Directions in Psychological Science, December 2016, Pages 375-379

Abstract:
Heroin overdose deaths in the Unites States more than tripled from 2010 to 2014, reaching almost 11,000 per year. Despite the use of the term “overdose,” many of these victims died after self-administering an amount of opiate that would not be expected to be fatal for these drug-experienced, and drug-tolerant, individuals. Various explanations of this overdose mystery have been proposed. I describe an explanation based on Pavlovian conditioning. Organisms associate cues present at the time of drug administration with the systemic effect of the drug. These drug-predictive cues come to elicit responses that attenuate the effect of a drug. Such anticipatory conditional responses mediate chronic tolerance. If the drug is administered in the presence of novel cues, tolerance fails to occur and the victim suffers an overdose. Overdose prevention strategies should incorporate information about the contribution of drug-associated cues to drug tolerance.

---------------------

Effects of the serotonin transporter gene, sensitivity of response to alcohol, and parental monitoring on risk for problem alcohol use

Lora Cope et al.

Alcohol, forthcoming

Abstract:
The serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) has been previously associated with alcohol-related risk. Most findings point to short (S) allele carriers being at increased risk for negative alcohol outcomes relative to long allele homozygotes, although some work indicates a more complex relationship. The current prospective study aimed to clarify how and under what circumstances variations in 5-HTTLPR transmit risk for various alcohol-related outcomes. Participants were 218 adolescents and young adults (29% female) enrolled in the Michigan Longitudinal Study. We tested a moderated mediation model with 5-HTTLPR as the predictor, Self-Rating of the Effects of Alcohol (SRE) score as the mediator, alcohol-related outcomes as the dependent variables, parental monitoring as the moderator of the SRE to alcohol outcomes path, and prior drinks, sex, age, and body mass index as covariates. Four alcohol-related outcomes were tested. The S allele was associated with higher SRE scores (i.e., lower response to alcohol). Parental monitoring was a significant moderator: At low levels of parental monitoring, higher SRE scores predicted more drinks consumed and binge drinking episodes. At high levels of monitoring, higher SRE scores were significantly related to fewer alcohol-related problems. Findings suggest that one mechanism by which 5-HTTLPR variation transmits alcohol-related risk is through level of response to alcohol. Furthermore, the strength and direction of this effect varied by level of parental monitoring, indicating that even in the presence of genetic and physiological vulnerability, parents can influence the likelihood of offspring developing problematic alcohol-related behaviors.

---------------------

The Effect of E-Cigarette Minimum Legal Sale Age Laws on Traditional Cigarette Use and Birth Outcomes among Pregnant Teenagers

Michael Pesko & Janet Currie

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
We use United States birth record data to estimate the effect of e-cigarette minimum legal sale age laws on cigarette use and birth outcomes for pregnant teenagers. While these laws may have reduced e-cigarette use, we hypothesize that these laws may have also increased cigarette use during pregnancy by making it more difficult to use e-cigarettes to reduce/quit smoking. We use cross-sectional and panel data models to find that e-cigarette minimum legal sale age laws increase underage pregnant teenagers’ smoking by 2.1 percentage points. The laws may have also modestly improved select birth outcomes, perhaps by reducing overall nicotine exposure from vaping and smoking combined.

---------------------

Adolescent Cigarette Smoking Perceptions and Behavior: Tobacco Control Gains and Gaps Amidst the Rapidly Expanding Tobacco Products Market From 2001 to 2015

Karma McKelvey & Bonnie Halpern-Felsher

Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Methods: Data from two California school-based studies (Xage = 14) were compared: one conducted in 2001–2002 (“2001”), N = 395; the second in 2014–2015 (“2015”); N = 282.

Results: In 2015, more participants reported it was very unlikely they would smoke (94% vs. 65%) and that they never smoked (95% vs. 74%); they reported perceiving less likelihood of looking more mature (17% vs. 28%) and greater likelihood of getting into trouble (86% vs. 77%), having a heart attack (76% vs. 69%), and contracting lung cancer (85% vs. 78%) from smoking (p < .001). Perceptions of short-term health problems and addiction were similar in 2001 and 2015.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that adolescents in 2015 perceived greater risks compared to those in 2001 even amidst the rapidly changing tobacco product landscape. In addition to continuing messages of long-term health risks, prevention efforts should include messages about addiction and short-term health and social risks.

---------------------

Changing Perceptions of Harm of E-Cigarettes Among U.S. Adults, 2012–2015

Ban Majeed et al.

American Journal of Preventive Medicine, forthcoming

Introduction: Although the impact of long-term use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) on health is still unknown, current scientific evidence indicates that e-cigarettes are less harmful than combustible cigarettes. The study examined whether perceived relative harm of e-cigarettes and perceived addictiveness have changed during 2012–2015 among U.S. adults.

Methods: Data were from Tobacco Products and Risk Perceptions surveys of probability samples representative of U.S. adults in 2012, 2014, and 2015. Changes over time in perceived harmfulness of e-cigarettes were examined using pairwise comparisons of proportions and multinomial logistic regression analysis. Analyses were conducted in January 2016.

Results: Whereas 11.5% and 1.3% of adults perceived e-cigarettes to have about the same level of harm and to be more harmful than cigarettes, respectively, in 2012, 35.7% and 4.1% did so in 2015. The proportion of adults who thought e-cigarettes were addictive more than doubled during 2012–2015 (32.0% in 2012 vs 67.6% in 2015). Compared with 2012, the odds of perceiving e-cigarettes to be equally or more harmful (than to be less harmful) doubled (95% CI=1.64, 2.41) in 2014, and tripled (95% CI=2.60, 3.81) in 2015.

Conclusions: There is an increase in the proportion of U.S. adults who misperceive the harm of e-cigarettes and consider them to be as harmful as combustible cigarettes. The study highlights the need to design public health messages that accurately interpret the scientific data on the potential harm of e-cigarettes and clearly differentiate the absolute from the relative harm of e-cigarettes.

---------------------

The Design of Medical Marijuana Laws and Adolescent Use and Heavy Use of Marijuana: Analysis of 45 States from 1991-2011

Julie Johnson, Dominic Hodgkin & Sion Kim Harris

Drug and Alcohol Dependence, January 2017, Pages 1–8

Objectives: To assess the association between U.S. state medical marijuana laws (MML), the most liberal category of marijuana policies before legalization, their specific provisions, and adolescent past-30-day use and heavy marijuana use.

Methods: This quasi-experimental study used state Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data collected during 1991-2011 from 45 states (N = 715,014) to examine MML effects, taking advantage of heterogeneity across states in MML status and design. Multiple logistic regression modeling was used to adjust for state and year effects, and youth demographics.

Results: Unadjusted analyses found that MMLs were associated with higher rates of adolescent past-30-day marijuana use (odds ratio [OR] = 1.08, 95% confidence interval, [(CI) = 1.03,1.13]) and heavy marijuana use (OR = 1.12, [CI = 1.05,1.21]). However, analyses adjusting for state/year effects found a 7% lower odds of use (OR = 0.99, [CI = 0.98,0.999]) and no difference in heavy use. In the adjusted models, years since MML enactment (OR = 0.93, [CI = 0.86,0.99]) and MML inclusion of more liberalized provisions (OR = 0.98, [CI = 0.96,0.998]) were associated with slightly lowered odds of past-30-day marijuana use. Conversely, allowance for ≥2.5 usable marijuana ounces was associated with higher past-30-day marijuana use odds (OR = 1.21, [CI = 1.09,1.34]) and a voluntary vs. mandatory patient registration with higher odds of both past-30-day use (OR = 1.41, [CI = 1.28,1.56]) and heavy use (OR = 1.23, [CI = 1.08,1.40]).

Conclusions: MML enactment, years since enactment, and inclusion of more liberalized provisions were not associated with increased adolescent marijuana use in this dataset after adjusting for state and year effects; however, higher possession limits and a voluntary registration were. It is possible that state norms are the impetus for MML enactment.

---------------------

A Bivariate Genetic Analysis of Drug Abuse Ascertained Through Medical and Criminal Registries in Swedish Twins, Siblings and Half-Siblings

Hermine Maes et al.

Behavior Genetics, November 2016, Pages 735–741

Abstract:
Using Swedish nationwide registry data, the authors investigated the correlation of genetic and environmental risk factors in the etiology of drug abuse as ascertained from medical and criminal registries by modeling twin and sibling data. Medical drug abuse was defined using public inpatient and outpatient records, while criminal drug abuse was ascertained through legal records. Twin, full and half sibling pairs were obtained from the national twin and genealogical registers. Information about sibling pair residence within the same household was obtained from Statistics Sweden. Standard bivariate genetic structural equation modeling was applied to the population-based data on drug abuse ascertained through medical and crime registries, using OpenMx. Analyses of all possible pairs of twins (MZ: N = 4482; DZ: N = 9838 pairs), full- (N = 1,278,086) and half-siblings (paternal: N = 7767; maternal N = 70,553) who grew up together suggested that factors explaining familial resemblance for drug abuse as defined through medical or criminal registries were mostly the same. Results showed substantial heritability and moderate contributions of shared environmental factors to drug abuse; both were higher in males versus females, and higher for drug abuse ascertained through criminal than medical records. Because of the low prevalence of both assessments of drug abuse, having access to population data was crucial to obtain stable estimates. Using objective registry data, the authors found that drug abuse — whether ascertained through medical versus criminal records — was highly heritable. Furthermore, shared environmental factors contributed significantly to the liability of drug abuse. Genetic and shared environmental risk factors for these two forms of drug abuse were highly correlated.

---------------------

A Structural Model of the Retail Market for Illicit Drugs

Manolis Galenianos & Alessandro Gavazza

American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We estimate a model of illicit drugs markets using data on purchases of crack cocaine. Buyers are searching for high-quality drugs, but they determine drugs’ quality (i.e., their purity) only after consuming them. Hence, sellers can rip off first-time buyers or can offer higher-quality drugs to induce buyers to purchase from them again. In equilibrium, a distribution of qualities persists. The estimated model implies that if drugs were legalized, in which case purity could be regulated and hence observable, the average purity of drugs would increase by approximately 20 percent and the dispersion would decrease by approximately 80 percent. Moreover, increasing penalties may raise the purity and affordability of the drugs traded by increasing sellers’ relative profitability of targeting loyal buyers versus first-time buyers.

---------------------

It’s Complicated: Examining Smokers’ Relationships With Their Cigarette Brands

Sarah Johnson, Blair Coleman & Carol Schmitt

Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite increased restrictions and taxes, decreased social acceptability, and widespread awareness of the harms of tobacco use, many in the U.S. continue to smoke cigarettes. Thus, understanding smokers’ attitudes and motivations remains an important goal. This study adopts the consumer psychology concept of brand relationship to provide a new lens through which to examine smokers’ attitudes about their cigarette use. Twelve focus groups (N = 143) were conducted with adult cigarette smokers from September to November, 2013. Using a semistructured moderator guide and “top of mind” worksheets, the discussion examined participants’ attitudes toward (a) their own cigarette brand and (b) tobacco companies in general. Data were coded and analyzed following principles of thematic analysis. Adult smokers reported positive attitudes toward their cigarette brand, as their brand was strongly associated with the positive experience of smoking (e.g., satisfying craving and relief from withdrawal). In contrast, thinking about tobacco companies in general evoked negative reactions, revealing overwhelmingly negative attitudes toward the industry. Findings reveal a complicated relationship between smokers and their cigarette brand: simultaneously embracing their cigarettes and rejecting the industry that makes them. Taken together, these data suggest smokers maintain largely positive brand relationships, diverting negative feelings about smoking toward the tobacco industry. Finally, they highlight the synergy between branding and the subjective smoking experience, whereby positive brand attitudes are reinforced through withdrawal relief. Ultimately, this information could inform a more complete understanding of how smokers interpret and respond to tobacco communications, including marketing from their brand.

---------------------

Do individuals higher in impulsivity drink more impulsively? A pilot study within a high risk sample of young adults

Angela Stevens et al.

Addictive Behaviors, February 2017, Pages 147–153

Abstract:
Extant literature has established a strong relation between individual differences in “impulsivity” and alcohol consumption. However, the relation between “impulsivity,” intentions-to-drink, and alcohol consumption has remained understudied. As a part of a larger study, 77 participants (60.5% female, 76.3% White, M age = 20.8) completed 10 days of daily diary reports regarding their intention to use alcohol and alcohol consumption. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was used to estimate within-person relations between intentions-to-drink and subsequent alcohol use. All models were adjusted for participant age, biological sex, and day of the week. Results showed a strong positive association between daily intention to consume alcohol and self-reported alcohol use (β = 0.50, p < 0.01). Importantly, tests of interactions indicated that individuals higher in impulsivity were not significantly more likely to engage in unplanned drinking. Multilevel mediation analyses indicated significant indirect effects between impulsivity-like constructs, including positive urgency, lack-of-planning, and self-report delay discounting, and reported daily alcohol consumption via higher overall (i.e., between-person) levels of intentions-to-drink; that is, individuals who reported higher levels of these impulsivity-related constructs were more likely to intend to drink across the 10-days and, in turn, consumed more alcohol. Findings from the study suggest that treatment providers could address drinking intentions among individuals higher in impulsivity and work to establish potential replacement behaviors to reduce alcohol consumption in this population.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, December 12, 2016

Course requirements

College on the Cheap: Consequences of Community College Tuition Reductions

Jeffrey Denning

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the effects of community college tuition on college enrollment. I exploit quasi-experimental variation from discounts for community college tuition in Texas that were expanded over time and across geography for identification. Community college enrollment in the first year after high school increased by 5.1 percentage points for each $1,000 decrease in tuition which implies an elasticity of –0.29. Lower tuition also increased transfer from community colleges to universities. Marginal community college enrollees induced to attend by reduced tuition have similar graduation rates as average community college enrollees.

---------------------

Measuring Inflation in Grades: An Application of Price Indexing to Undergraduate Grades

Rey Hernández-Julián & Adam Looney

Economics of Education Review, December 2016, Pages 220–232

Abstract:
Rising average grades at American universities have prompted fears of ‘grade inflation.’ This paper applies the methods used to estimate price inflation to examine the causes of rising grades. We use rich data from a large public university to decompose the increase in average grades into those components explained by changes in student characteristics and course choices, and the unexplained component, which we refer to as ‘inflation.’ About one-quarter of the increase in grades from 1982 to 2001 was driven by changes in the courses selected by students; enrollment shifted toward historically ‘easier-grading’ departments over time, mechanically increasing average grades. An additional one-quarter of the increase is attributable to increases in the observable quality of students, such as average SAT scores. Less than half of the increase in average grades from 1982 to 2001 appears to arise from the unexplained factors, or ‘inflation.’ These results add to the evidence suggesting that differences in relative grades across departments discourage students from studying in low-grading departments, like math, physics, or engineering.

---------------------

Price Regulation, Price Discrimination, and Equality of Opportunity in Higher Education: Evidence from Texas

Rodney Andrews & Kevin Stange

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
This paper assesses the importance of price regulation and price discrimination to low-income students' access to opportunities in public higher education. Following a policy change in the state of Texas that shifted tuition-setting authority away from the state legislature to the governing board of each public university, most institutions raised sticker prices and many began charging more for high-return undergraduate majors, such as business and engineering. We use administrative data on Texas public university students from 2000 to 2009 matched to earnings records, financial aid, and new measures of tuition and resources at a program level to assess how deregulation affected the representation of disadvantaged students in high-return institutions and majors in the state. We find that poor students actually shifted towards higher-return programs following deregulation, relative to non-poor students. Deregulation facilitated more price discrimination by increasing grant aid for low-income students and also enabled supply-side enhancements such as more spending per student, which may have partially offset the detrimental effects of higher sticker price. The Texas experience suggests that providing institutions more autonomy over pricing and increasing sticker prices need not diminish the opportunities available to disadvantaged students.

---------------------

Parental Responses to Public Investments in Children: Evidence from a Maximum Class Size Rule

Peter Fredriksson, Björn Öckert & Hessel Oosterbeek

Journal of Human Resources, Fall 2016, Pages 832-868

Abstract:
We study differential parental responses to variation in class size induced by a maximum class size rule in Swedish schools. In response to an increase in class size: (1) only high-income parents help their children more with homework; (2) all parents are more likely to move their child to another school; and (3) only low-income children find their teachers harder to follow when taught in a larger class. These findings indicate that public and private investments in children are substitutes, and help explain why the negative effect of class size on achievement in our data is concentrated among low-income children.

---------------------

Impact of North Carolina's Early Childhood Programs and Policies on Educational Outcomes in Elementary School

Kenneth Dodge et al.

Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
North Carolina's Smart Start and More at Four (MAF) early childhood programs were evaluated through the end of elementary school (age 11) by estimating the impact of state funding allocations to programs in each of 100 counties across 13 consecutive years on outcomes for all children in each county-year group (n = 1,004,571; 49% female; 61% non-Latinx White, 30% African American, 4% Latinx, 5% other). Student-level regression models with county and year fixed effects indicated significant positive impacts of each program on reading and math test scores and reductions in special education and grade retention in each grade. Effect sizes grew or held steady across years. Positive effects held for both high- and low-poverty families, suggesting spillover of effects to nonparticipating peers.

---------------------

Shifting College Majors in Response to Advanced Placement Exam Scores

Christopher Avery et al.

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Mapping continuous raw scores from millions of Advanced Placement examinations onto the 1 to 5 integer scoring scale, we apply a regression discontinuity design to understand how students’ choice of college major is impacted by receiving a higher integer score despite similar exam performance to students who earned a lower integer score. Attaining higher scores increases the probability that a student will major in that exam subject by approximately 5 percent (0.64 percentage points), with some individual exams demonstrating increases in major choice by as much as 30 percent. These direct impacts of a higher score explain approximately 11 percent of the unconditional 64 percent (5.7 percentage points) gap in the probability of majoring in the same subject as the AP exam when attaining a 5 versus a 4. We estimate that a substantial portion of the overall effect is driven by behavioral responses to the positive signal of receiving a higher score.

---------------------

Effects of ParentCorps in Prekindergarten on Child Mental Health and Academic Performance: Follow-up of a Randomized Clinical Trial Through 8 Years of Age

Laurie Miller Brotman et al.

JAMA Pediatrics, December 2016, Pages 1149-1155

Design, Setting, and Participants: This is a 3-year follow-up study of a cluster randomized clinical trial of ParentCorps in public schools with prekindergarten programs in New York City. Ten elementary schools serving a primarily low-income, black student population were randomized in 2005, and 4 consecutive cohorts of prekindergarten students were enrolled from September 12, 2005, through December 31, 2008. We report follow-up for the 3 cohorts enrolled after the initial year of implementation. Data analysis was performed from September 1, 2014, to December 31, 2015.

Interventions: ParentCorps included professional development for prekindergarten and kindergarten teachers and a program for parents and prekindergarten students (13 two-hour group sessions delivered after school by teachers and mental health professionals).

Results: A total of 1050 children (4 years old; 518 boys [49.3%] and 532 girls [50.7%]) in 99 prekindergarten classrooms participated in the trial (88.1% of the prekindergarten population), with 792 students enrolled from 2006 to 2008. Most families in the follow-up study (421 [69.6%]) were low income; 680 (85.9%) identified as non-Latino black, 78 (9.8%) as Latino, and 34 (4.3%) as other. Relative to their peers in prekindergarten programs, children in ParentCorps-enhanced prekindergarten programs had lower levels of mental health problems (Cohen d = 0.44; 95% CI, 0.08-0.81) and higher teacher-rated academic performance (Cohen d = 0.21; 95% CI, 0.02-0.39) in second grade.

Conclusions and Relevance: Intervention in prekindergarten led to better mental health and academic performance 3 years later. Family-centered early intervention has the potential to prevent problems and reduce disparities for low-income minority children.

---------------------

Why Good Teaching Evaluations May Reward Bad Teaching: On Grade Inflation and Other Unintended Consequences of Student Evaluations

Wolfgang Stroebe

Perspectives on Psychological Science, November 2016, Pages 800-816

Abstract:
In this article, I address the paradox that university grade point averages have increased for decades, whereas the time students invest in their studies has decreased. I argue that one major contributor to this paradox is grading leniency, encouraged by the practice of university administrators to base important personnel decisions on student evaluations of teaching. Grading leniency creates strong incentives for instructors to teach in ways that would result in good student evaluations. Because many instructors believe that the average student prefers courses that are entertaining, require little work, and result in high grades, they feel under pressure to conform to those expectations. Evidence is presented that the positive association between student grades and their evaluation of teaching reflects a bias rather than teaching effectiveness. If good teaching evaluations reflected improved student learning due to effective teaching, they should be positively related to the grades received in subsequent courses that build on knowledge gained in the previous course. Findings that teaching evaluations of concurrent courses, though positively correlated with concurrent grades, are negatively related to student performance in subsequent courses are more consistent with the assumption that concurrent evaluations are the result of lenient grading rather than effective teaching. Policy implications are discussed.

---------------------

Are Charters the Best Alternative? A Cost Frontier Analysis of Alternative Education Campuses in Texas

Timothy Gronberg, Dennis Jansen & Lori Taylor

Southern Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research on the relative efficiency of charter schools focused on schools that serve a general student population. In Texas, as in many other states, some charter schools have been designed specifically to serve students who are at risk of dropping out of school. Such “alternative education campuses” may have very different cost and efficiency profiles than schools designed to serve students in regular education programs. In this article, we estimate a translog stochastic cost frontier model using panel data for alternative public high school campuses in Texas over the five-year period 2007–2011, and find that alternative education high school campuses operated by charter schools are systematically more efficient than alternative education high school campuses operated by traditional public school districts. Policies that encourage the formation of alternative education charter campuses may thus be a sensible component of strategies to combat the pervasive and pernicious problem of high school dropouts.

---------------------

The Effects of Public Unions on Compensation: Evidence from Wisconsin

Andrew Litten

University of Michigan Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
This paper seeks to identify the effect that public sector unions have on compensation. Specifically, I look the compensation premium associated with teachers’ unions in Wisconsin. In 2011, Wisconsin passed a landmark law (Act 10) which significantly lowered the bargaining power of all public sector unions in the state. Using an event study framework, I exploit plausibly exogenous timing differences based on contract renewal dates, which caused districts to be first exposed to the new regulations in different years. I find that the reduction in union power associated with Act 10 reduced total teacher compensation by 8%, or $6,500. Roughly two-thirds of this decline is driven through reduced fringe benefits. Subgroup analysis shows that the most experienced and highest paid teachers benefit most from unionization. I supplement the event study approach with synthetic control and regression discontinuity methods to find that regulatory limits on contract terms, rather than other mechanisms such as state financial aid cuts or union decertification, are driving the results.

---------------------

Declining State Funding and Efficiency Effects on Public Higher Education: Government Really Does Matter

Thomas Sav

International Advances in Economic Research, November 2016, Pages 397–408

Abstract:
A stochastic cost frontier with inefficiency effects is estimated to investigate the impacts of decreases in state funding support on the operating efficiency of public colleges and universities in the U.S. Panel data for 378 institutions spanning 10 academic years, 2004 through 2013, captures the efficiency effects of declines in state funding from 32 % to 23 %. There are several improvements over early work of like kind that was, however, confined to four academic years, 2005 through 2008, and could not account for the accelerated effects of state funding decreases that followed the financial crisis. Inefficiency effects are extended to include both private giving as a substitute revenue source and federally funded Pell Grants. Empirical results are robust and support the notion that government does matter. Decreases in state funding create inefficiency in producing public higher education. Results also suggest the same for private giving and Pell Grant support, although the former was statistically weak at best. On the cost side, the results, not surprisingly, indicate that university administrators held costs down with hiring increases in non-tenure track faculty and staff relative to tenure track and tenured faculty.

---------------------

Laws, Educational Outcomes, and Returns to Schooling: Evidence from the Full Count 1940 Census

Karen Clay, Jeff Lingwall & Melvin Stephens

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
This paper uses a new dataset on state compulsory attendance, continuation school, and child labor laws with the 1940 full count Census of Population to estimate the returns to schooling for native-born white men in the 1885-1912 birth cohorts. IV estimates of returns to schooling range from 0.064 to 0.079. Quantile IV estimates show that the returns to schooling were largest for the lowest quantiles, and were generally monotonically decreasing for higher quantiles. These findings suggest that early schooling laws may have contributed to the Great Compression by increasing education levels for white men at the bottom of the distribution.

---------------------

Information, Non-Financial Incentives, and Student Achievement: Evidence from a Text Messaging Experiment

Roland Fryer

Journal of Public Economics, December 2016, Pages 109–121

Abstract:
This paper describes a field experiment in Oklahoma City Public Schools in which students were provided with free cellular phones and daily information about the link between human capital and future outcomes via text message in one treatment and minutes to talk and text as an incentive in a second treatment. Students' reported beliefs about the relationship between education and outcomes were influenced by the information treatment. However, there were no measurable changes in student effort, attendance, suspensions, or state test scores, though there is evidence that scores on college entrance exams four years later increased. The patterns in the data appear most consistent with a model in which students have present-bias or lack knowledge of the educational production function, though other explanations are possible.

---------------------

Using Goals to Motivate College Students: Theory and Evidence from Field Experiments

Damon Clark et al.

Purdue University Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
Will college students who set goals for themselves work harder and perform better? In theory, setting goals can help time-inconsistent students to mitigate their self-control problem. In practice, there is little credible evidence on the causal effects of goal setting for college students. We report the results of two field experiments that involved almost four thousand college students in total. One experiment asked treated students to set goals for performance in the course; the other asked treated students to set goals for a particular task (completing online practice exams). We find that performance-based goals had no discernible impact on course performance. In contrast, task-based goals had large and robust positive effects on the level of task completion, and task-based goals also increased course performance. Further empirical analysis indicates that the increase in task completion induced by setting task-based goals caused the increase in course performance. We also find that task-based goals were more effective for male students. We develop new theory that reinforces our empirical results by suggesting two key reasons why task-based goals might be more effective than performance-based goals: overconfidence and uncertainty about performance. Since task-based goal setting is low-cost, scaleable and logistically simple, we conclude that our findings have important implications for educational practice and future research.

---------------------

To Be or Not to Be EL: An Examination of the Impact of Classifying Students as English Learners

Ilana Umansky

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, December 2016, Pages 714-737

Abstract:
Across the United States, students who are deemed not to be proficient in English are classified as English learners (ELs). This classification entitles students to specialized services but may also result in stigmatization and barriers to educational opportunity. This article uses a regression discontinuity design to estimate the effect of EL classification in kindergarten on students’ academic trajectories. Furthermore, it explores whether the effect of EL classification differs for students in English immersion versus bilingual programs. I find that among language-minority students who enter kindergarten with relatively advanced English proficiency, EL classification results in a substantial negative net impact on math and English language arts test scores in Grades 2 through 10. This effect, however, is concentrated in English immersion classrooms.

---------------------

Performance Information and Personnel Decisions in the Public Sector: The Case of School Principals

Julie Berry Cullen et al.

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
Firms and other organizations establish the criteria under which employees will be judged and the performance measures made available to supervisors, the board of directors and other stakeholders, and these structures almost certainly influence behavior and organization outcomes. Any divergence of the chosen performance metric from an ideal measurement of productivity may lead to suboptimal outcomes, particularly in the public sector where outside interest groups may rely more heavily on easily accessible ratings than better-informed insiders. In the case of public education, federal and state accountability systems provide considerable information about student outcomes and rate schools on that basis. However, the No Child Left Behind accountability legislation’s focus on pass rates rather than learning and achievement growth introduces the possibility that inadequate information and a flawed structure each compromise public school quality. This study of school principal labor market outcomes investigates the relationship between principal labor market success and a set of performance measures that differ on the basis of accessibility to stakeholders and link with true principal productivity. The results from the empirical analysis provide evidence that information and design deficiencies introduce a lack of alignment between incentives and principal productivity and adversely affect the quality of education in Texas public schools.

---------------------

College Curriculum, Diverging Selectivity, and Enrollment Expansion

Michael Kaganovich & Xuejuan Su

Indiana University Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
We analyze the impact of expansion of higher education on student outcomes in the context of competition among colleges which differentiate themselves horizontally by setting curricular standards. When public or economic pressures compel less selective colleges to lower their curricular demands, low-ability students benefit at the expense of medium-ability students. This reduces competitive pressure faced by more selective colleges, which therefore adopt more demanding curricula to better serve their most able students. This stylized model of curricular product differentiation in higher education offers an explanation for the diverging selectivity trends of American colleges. It also appears consistent with the U-shaped earnings growth profile we observe among college-educated workers in the U.S.

---------------------

Do educational vouchers reduce inequality and inefficiency in education?

Metin Akyol

Economics of Education Review, December 2016, Pages 149–167

Abstract:
Policy debates around the topic of educational vouchers as an approach to improve the public educational system are still ongoing and a consensus on the potential benefits or drawbacks has not been reached yet. This paper models the distributional processes entailed by two alternative educational voucher systems, universal and target vouchers, by using an agent-based model of a highly heterogeneous school district. Using this approach allows to track which students actually switch schools and thereby evaluate peer effects. At the same it is possible to model an endogenous reaction of public schools in order to assess their reaction to increased competition. The results indicate an ambiguous effect of universal vouchers on low-income students. The introduction has a negative peer effect on students in low-performing schools due to “cream skimming”, i.e. highly motivated students leaving the schools. In contrast, students who switch to better schools observe a positive effect. The negative effects are partly alleviated by low- performing schools improving their educational services as a response to a decline in enrollment. When examining target vouchers which are a function of student ability, the paper shows that they allow the school district to benefit from the increased competition while avoiding the deterioration of the peer group.

---------------------

Multigenerational Head Start Participation: An Unexpected Marker of Progress

Elise Chor

Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
One-quarter of the Head Start population has a mother who participated in the program as a child. This study uses experimental Head Start Impact Study (HSIS) data on 3- and 4-year-olds (N = 2,849) to describe multigenerational Head Start families and their program experiences. In sharp contrast to full-sample HSIS findings, Head Start has large, positive impacts on cognitive and socioemotional development through third grade among the children of former participant mothers, including improved mathematics skills and reductions in withdrawn and aggressive behavior. Evidence suggests that differences in program impacts between single- and multigenerational Head Start families are driven largely by differences in family resources and home learning environments.

---------------------

Authoritative School Climate, Number of Parents at Home, and Academic Achievement

Francis Huang, Katie Eklund & Dewey

Cornell School Psychology Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
School climate is widely recognized as an important factor in promoting student academic achievement. The current study investigated the hypothesis that a demanding and supportive school climate, based on authoritative school climate theory, would serve as a protective factor for students living with 1 or no parents at home. Using a statewide sample of 56,508 middle school students from 415 public schools in 1 state, results indicated that student perceptions of disciplinary structure, academic demandingness, and student support all had positive associations with student self-reported grade point average (GPA). In addition, findings showed that academic expectations and student support were more highly associated with GPA for students not living with any parent. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

---------------------

Kindergarten redshirting: Motivations and spillovers using census-level data

Kevin Fortner & Jade Marcus Jenkins

Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Winter 2017, Pages 44–56

Abstract:
Kindergarten redshirting may affect a child’s own outcomes and also has implications for school administration, classroom management, and peer learning. We use statewide micro-level census data to examine selection into redshirting, potential spillover effects, and its association with third grade outcomes. We find evidence of both negative and positive selection into redshirting, where children with disabilities are much more likely to be redshirted. We find small positive associations between redshirting and both math and reading achievement in third grade for students without identified disabilities. However, redshirting students with an identified disability score statistically significantly lower on mathematics assessments compared to similar non-redshirting students with identified disabilities. We do not find evidence of spillover effects from redshirting when students attend third grade classes with higher proportions of redshirted children.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


Previous   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14   Next