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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

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The Subprime Crisis: Is Government Housing Policy to Blame?

Robert Avery & Kenneth Brevoort
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Some have suggested that housing policy, embodied by the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and affordable housing goals of the government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), caused the subprime crisis. We examine if these programs led to worse mortgage outcomes using two approaches. The first examines whether more activity by CRA-covered lenders, or more loan sales to the GSEs, was associated with worse outcomes. The second uses regression discontinuity to determine if outcomes were worse at the geographic thresholds used by each program. Our results suggest that neither program played a significant role in the subprime crisis.

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Who Facilitated Misreporting in Securitized Loans?

John Griffin & Gonzalo Maturana
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines apparent misrepresentation among securitized non-agency loans using three indicators: unreported second liens, owner occupancy misreporting, and appraisal overstatements. We find that over 30% of loans exhibited some indication of misrepresentation. Misreporting is similar in both low and full-documentation loans and is associated with a 51% higher likelihood of delinquency. Interest rates at origination and activity around securitization thresholds indicate that originators were largely aware of second-lien misreporting and, to some extent, inflated appraisals. Misrepresentation also explains substantial cross-sectional differences in future MBS losses. Losses were predictable and initiating from MBS underwriters and loan originators.

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Secular Stagnation: The Long View

Barry Eichengreen
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Four explanations for secular stagnation are distinguished: a rise in global saving, slow population growth that makes investment less attractive, averse trends in technology and productivity growth, and a decline in the relative price of investment goods. A long view from economic history is most supportive of the last of these four views.

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Credit Supply and the Housing Boom

Alejandro Justiniano, Giorgio Primiceri & Andrea Tambalotti
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
The housing boom that preceded the Great Recession was due to an increase in credit supply driven by looser lending constraints in the mortgage market. This view on the fundamental drivers of the boom is consistent with four empirical observations: the unprecedented rise in home prices and household debt, the stability of debt relative to house values, and the fall in mortgage rates. These facts are difficult to reconcile with the popular view that attributes the housing boom to looser borrowing constraints associated with lower collateral requirements. In fact, a slackening of collateral constraints at the peak of the lending cycle triggers a fall in home prices in our framework, providing a novel perspective on the possible origins of the bust.

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A Tale of Two Vintages: Credit Limit Management Before and After the CARD Act and Great Recession

Larry Santucci
Federal Reserve Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
This paper uses tradeline-level credit card data to examine initial credit limits and early credit limit increases before and after the Great Recession and implementation of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 (the CARD Act). I compare two vintages of credit card accounts, those opened in 2005 and 2011; I also follow each vintage for more than two years after the account opening. In general, I find that significantly less credit was extended to approved credit card applicants in 2011 than in 2005. Accounts in the 2011 vintage started out with lower initial credit limits, received fewer limit increases, and received a smaller increase amount in dollar terms. These changes were most pronounced among the riskiest 25 percent of accounts opened in 2011. For this segment of the market, the median initial credit limit fell 66.7 percent to $500, and the median limit increase amount fell by at least 25 percent at each observation point. At the same time, limit increases occurred more often and sooner for this group, perhaps in recognition of the very low starting limits.

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Cost-Benefit Analysis of Financial Regulation: Case Studies and Implications

John Coates
Yale Law Journal, January-February 2015, Pages 882-1011

Abstract:
Some members of Congress, the D.C. Circuit, and the legal academy are promoting a particular, abstract form of cost-benefit analysis for financial regulation: judicially enforced quantification. How would CBA work in practice, if applied to specific, important, representative rules, and what is the alternative? Detailed case studies of six rules - (1) disclosure rules under Sarbanes-Oxley section 404; (2) the SEC's mutual fund governance reforms; (3) Basel III's heightened capital requirements for banks; (4) the Volcker Rule; (5) the SEC's cross-border swap proposals; and (6) the FSA's mortgage reforms - show that precise, reliable, quantified CBA remains unfeasible. Quantified CBA of such rules can be no more than "guesstimated," as it entails (a) causal inferences that are unreliable under standard regulatory conditions; (b) the use of problematic data; and/or (c) the same contestable, assumption-sensitive macroeconomic and/or political modeling used to make monetary policy, which even CBA advocates would exempt from CBA laws. Expert judgment remains an inevitable part of what advocates label "gold-standard" quantified CBA, because finance is central to the economy, is social and political, and is non-stationary. Judicial review of quantified CBA can be expected to do more to camouflage discretionary choices than to discipline agencies or promote democracy.

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Changes in Buyer Composition and the Expansion of Credit During the Boom

Manuel Adelino, Antoinette Schoar & Felipe Severino
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Earlier research has suggested that distortions in the supply of mortgage credit during the run up to the 2008 financial crisis, in particular a decoupling of credit flow from income growth, may have been responsible for the rise in house prices and the subsequent collapse of the housing market. Focusing on individual mortgage transactions rather than whole zip codes, we show that the apparent decoupling of credit from income shown in previous research was driven by changes in buyer composition. In fact, the relationship between individual mortgage size and income growth during the housing boom was very similar to previous periods, independent of how we measure income. Zip codes that had large house price increases experienced significant changes in the composition of buyers, i.e. home buyers (mortgage applicants) had increasingly higher income than the average residents in an area. Poorer areas saw an expansion of credit mostly through the extensive margin, i.e. a larger numbers of mortgages originated, but at DTI levels in line with borrower income. When we break out the volume of mortgage origination from 2002 to 2006 by income deciles across the US population, we see that the distribution of mortgage debt is concentrated in middle and high income borrowers, not the poor. Middle and high income borrowers also contributed most significantly to the increase in defaults after 2007. These results are consistent with an interpretation where house price expectations led lenders and buyers to buy into an unfolding bubble based on inflated asset values, rather than a change in the lending technology.

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Strategic Mortgage Default: The Effect of Neighborhood Factors

Michael Bradley, Amy Crews Cutts & Wei Liu
Real Estate Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article studies strategic default - the willingness of a borrower to walk away from a mortgage when the value of the home falls below the unpaid principal balance despite an ability to pay. This study differs from the literature in two fundamental ways. First, we use unique data assets describing the household's equity position and capacity to carry the debt in addition to credit performance to identify strategic defaulters accurately. Second, we address externalities from local foreclosures and other strategic defaults and find that the incidence of strategic default is sensitive to the presence of other nearby strategic defaulters. These results have significant implications for foreclosure and loss mitigation policies employed by servicers and investors.

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State Mandated Financial Education and the Credit Behavior of Young Adults

Alexandra Brown et al.
Federal Reserve Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
In the U.S., a number of states have mandated personal finance classes in public school curricula to address perceived deficiencies in financial decision-making competency. Despite the growth of financial and economic education provided in public schools, little is known about the effect of these programs on the credit behaviors of young adults. Using a panel of credit report data, we examine young adults in three states where personal financial education mandates were implemented in 2007: Georgia, Idaho, and Texas. We compare the credit scores and delinquency rates of young adults in each of these states pre- and post-implementation of the education to those of students in a synthetic control state and then bordering states without financial education. We find that young people who are in school after the implementation of a financial education requirement have higher relative credit scores and lower relative delinquency rates than those in control states.

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Spare Tire? Stock Markets, Banking Crises, and Economic Recoveries

Ross Levine, Chen Lin & Wensi Xie
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Do stock markets act as a "spare tire" during banking crises, providing an alternative corporate financing channel and mitigating the economic severity of banking crises? Using firm-level data in 36 countries from 1990 through 2011, we find that the adverse consequences of banking crises on firm profitability, employment, equity issuances, and investment efficiency are smaller in countries with stronger shareholder protection laws. These findings are not explained by the development of stock markets or financial institutions prior to the crises, the severity of the crisis, or overall economic, legal, and institutional development. The evidence is consistent with the view that stronger shareholder protection laws provide the legal infrastructure for stock markets to act as alternative sources of finance when banking systems go flat, easing the impact of the crisis on the economy.

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Central Banks at War

Paul Poast
International Organization, Winter 2015, Pages 63-95

Abstract:
War is expensive - troops must be equipped and weapons must be procured. When the enormous borrowing requirements of war make the sovereigns' credibility problem more difficult, central banks enhance a government's ability to borrow. By being the sole direct purchaser of government debt, the central bank increases the effective punishment that can be imposed on the government for defaulting on the marginal lender. This increases lenders' confidence that the government will be punished in case of default, making lenders willing to purchase the debt at a lower rate of interest. The sovereign, dependent on the low borrowing costs offered by the central bank, has an incentive to retain the bank. Data covering the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reveal that possessing a central bank lowers the sovereign's borrowing costs, particularly during times of war.

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How important is variability in consumer credit limits?

Scott Fulford
Journal of Monetary Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a large panel this paper first demonstrates that individuals gain and lose access to credit frequently. The estimated credit limit volatility is larger than most estimates of income volatility and varies over the business cycle. Within a model, variable credit limits create a reason for households to hold both high interest debts and low interest savings at the same time. Using the estimated credit volatility, the model explains why around one third of American households engage in this credit card puzzle. The approach also offers an important new channel through which financial system uncertainty can affect household decisions.

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Collateral Valuation and Borrower Financial Constraints: Evidence from the Residential Real Estate Market

Sumit Agarwal, Itzhak Ben-David & Vincent Yao
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Financially constrained borrowers have the incentive to influence the appraisal process in order to increase borrowing or reduce the interest rate. We document that the average valuation bias for residential refinance transactions is above 5%. The bias is larger for highly leveraged transactions, around critical leverage thresholds, and for transactions mediated through a broker. Mortgages with inflated valuations default more often. Lenders account for 60%-90% of the bias through pricing.

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Borrowers from a different shore: Asian outcomes in the U.S. mortgage market

Marsha Courchane, Rajeev Darolia & Adam Gailey
Journal of Housing Economics, June 2015, Pages 76-90

Abstract:
Even though Asians are now the largest minority group participating in United States mortgage markets, research on differences in underwriting and pricing outcomes in mortgages typically focuses on the outcomes of African American and Hispanic borrowers. One explanation for the lack of attention on Asian outcomes follows from the perceived relative economic prosperity of this minority group, which may lead to the belief that they are less in need of consumer protection or policy support. While simple group averages of economic characteristics support this belief, documented heterogeneity of Asian experiences suggests that the use of other measures may be needed to account for the varied outcomes of Asians in the U.S. housing markets. Using a unique proprietary source of lender data, we examine these Asian outcomes. We find that Asians face challenges in mortgage markets in ways that may be unique as compared to other minority groups. For example, while an examination of unadjusted average denial rates indicates favorable outcomes for Asians compared to other minority groups, we find that after accounting for loan and borrower characteristics, Asians have denial rates as high as other minority groups.

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Fraudulent Income Overstatement on Mortgage Applications during the Credit Expansion of 2002 to 2005

Atif Mian & Amir Sufi
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
Academic research, government inquiries, and press accounts show extensive mortgage fraud during the housing boom of the mid-2000s. We explore a particular type of mortgage fraud: the overstatement of income on mortgage applications. We define "income overstatement" in a zip code as the growth in income reported on home-purchase mortgage applications minus the average IRS-reported income growth from 2002 to 2005. Income overstatement is highest in low credit score, low income zip codes that Mian and Sufi (2009) show experience the strongest mortgage credit growth from 2002 to 2005. These same zip codes with high income overstatement are plagued with mortgage fraud according to independent measures. Income overstatement in a zip code is associated with poor performance during the mortgage credit boom, and terrible economic and financial economic outcomes after the boom including high default rates, negative income growth, and increased poverty and unemployment. From 1991 to 2007, the zip code-level correlation between IRS-reported income growth and growth in income reported on mortgage applications is always positive with one exception: the correlation goes to zero in the non-GSE market during the 2002 to 2005 period. Income reported on mortgage applications should not be used as true income in low credit score zip codes from 2002 to 2005.

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Is ageing deflationary? Some evidence from OECD countries

P. Gajewski
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
We present a theoretical and empirical discussion related to interconnections between inflation and ageing, providing some empirical results regarding the impact of ageing-related variables on inflation in a sample of OECD countries. According to the macroeconomics textbook ageing is generally inflationary, but a growing body of arguments can be identified to support the opposite impact. The simple empirical model is estimated via Fixed Effects (FE) and panel-corrected SE (PCSE), robust to groupwise heteroscedasticity and serial correlation. Generally, our results suggest that ageing exerts downward pressure on prices. The findings contradict the common view, but also do not fully conform with some of the recent hypotheses.

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Information Externalities, Neighborhood Characteristics and Home Mortgage Pricing and Underwriting

Ioan Voicu et al.
Real Estate Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Theories of rational redlining suggest thinness in housing markets should lead to greater uncertainty in house price appraisals, increasing mortgage denial rates or pricing. Empirical tests found support for this theory in mortgage underwriting using 1990s data. Using 2006 data and bank-specific regression models, we revisit this topic in light of two developments leading to the recent mortgage bubble: the widespread securitization that allowed banks to shift loan risk to investors and the advent of risk-based pricing. Consistent with expectations, we find that information externalities have become economically very small and have shifted from underwriting to pricing decisions.

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The Determinants of Subprime Mortgage Performance Following a Loan Modification

Maximilian Schmeiser & Matthew Gross
Federal Reserve Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We examine the evolution of mortgage modification terms obtained by distressed subprime borrowers during the recent housing crisis, and the effect of the various types of modifications on the subsequent loan performance. Using the CoreLogic LoanPerformance dataset that contains detailed loan level information on mortgages, modification terms, second liens, and home values, we estimate a discrete time proportional hazard model with competing risks to examine the determinants of post-modification mortgage outcomes. We find that principal reductions are particularly effective at improving loan outcomes, as high loan-to-value ratios are the single greatest contributor to re-default and foreclosure. However, any modification that reduces total payment and interest (P&I) reduces the likelihood of subsequent re-default and foreclosure. Modifications that involve increasing the loan principal -- primarily through capitalized interest and fees -- are more likely to fail, even controlling for changes in P&I.

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Financial Education and Savings Outcomes for Low-Income IDA Participants: Does Age Make a Difference?

Michal Grinstein-Weiss et al.
Journal of Consumer Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study considers the impact of financial education dosage on savings outcomes of participants in Individual Development Account (IDA) programs. It analyzes data from a sample of approximately 2,000 participants in the American Dream Policy Demonstration, disaggregates outcomes by age, and uses propensity score modeling to control for endogeneity and selection bias. We find that, relative to counterparts who did not complete educational requirements, IDA participants who completed program requirements for financial education had higher average monthly savings, saved a higher portion of their income, and deposited savings more frequently. Notably, we find that participants aged 36 or older experienced increasing returns on investment in financial education, and the best outcomes are found among those with more than 200% of the required dose of financial education. However, younger participants with more than 100% of the required dose are found to experience a diminishing return on their investment in financial education.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Race in time

Racial Inequality Trends and the Intergenerational Persistence of Income and Family Structure

Deirdre Bloome
American Sociological Review, December 2014, Pages 1196-1225

Abstract:
Racial disparity in family incomes remained remarkably stable over the past 40 years in the United States despite major legal and social reforms. Previous scholarship presents two primary explanations for persistent inequality through a period of progressive change. One highlights continuity: because socioeconomic status is transmitted from parents to children, disparities created through histories of discrimination and opportunity denial may dissipate slowly. The second highlights change: because family income results from joining individual earnings in family units, changing family compositions can offset individuals’ changing economic chances. I examine whether black-white family income inequality trends are better characterized by the persistence of existing disadvantage (continuity) or shifting forms of disadvantage (change). I combine cross-sectional and panel analysis using Current Population Survey, Panel Study of Income Dynamics, Census, and National Vital Statistics data. Results suggest that African Americans experience relatively extreme intergenerational continuity (low upward mobility) and discontinuity (high downward mobility); both helped maintain racial inequality. Yet, intergenerational discontinuities allow new forms of disadvantage to emerge. On net, racial inequality trends are better characterized by changing forms of disadvantage than by continuity. Economic trends were equalizing but demographic trends were disequalizing; as family structures shifted, family incomes did not fully reflect labor-market gains.

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The National Rise in Residential Segregation

Trevon Logan & John Parman
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
This paper introduces a new measure of residential segregation based on individual-level data. We exploit complete census manuscript files to derive a measure of segregation based upon the racial similarity of next-door neighbors. Our measure allows us to analyze segregation consistently and comprehensively for all areas in the United States and allows for a richer view of the variation in segregation across time and space. We show that the fineness of our measure reveals aspects of racial sorting that cannot be captured by traditional segregation indices. Our measure can distinguish between the effects of increasing racial homogeneity of a location and the tendency to segregate within a location given a particular racial composition. Analysis of neighbor-based segregation over time establishes several new facts about segregation. First, segregation doubled nationally from 1880 to 1940. Second, contrary to previous estimates, we find that urban areas in the South were the most segregated in the country and remained so over time. Third, the dramatic increase in segregation in the twentieth century was not driven by urbanization, black migratory patterns, or white flight to suburban areas, but rather resulted from a national increase in racial sorting at the household level. The likelihood that an African American household had a non-African American neighbor declined by more than 15 percentage points (more than a 25% decrease) through the mid-twentieth century. In all areas of the United States -- North and South, urban and rural -- racial segregation increased dramatically.

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Geographic Migration of Black and White Families Over Four Generations

Patrick Sharkey
Demography, February 2015, Pages 209-231

Abstract:
This article analyzes patterns of geographic migration of black and white American families over four consecutive generations. The analysis is based on a unique set of questions in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) asking respondents about the counties and states in which their parents and grandparents were raised. Using this information along with the extensive geographic information available in the PSID survey, the article tracks the geographic locations of four generations of family members and considers the ways in which families and places are linked together over the course of a family’s history. The patterns documented in the article are consistent with much of the demographic literature on the Great Migration of black Americans out of the South, but they reveal new insights into patterns of black migration after the Great Migration. In the most recent generation, black Americans have remained in place to a degree that is unique relative to the previous generation and relative to whites of the same generation. This new geographic immobility is the most pronounced change in black Americans’ migration patterns after the Great Migration, and it is a pattern that has implications for the demography of black migration as well as the literature on racial inequality.

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Political Parties and Labor-Market Outcomes: Evidence from U.S. States

Louis-Philippe Beland
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper estimates the causal impact of the party allegiance (Republican or Democratic) of U.S. governors on labor-market outcomes. I match gubernatorial elections with March Current Population Survey (CPS) data for income years 1977 to 2008. Using a regression discontinuity design, I find that Democratic governors cause an increase in the annual hours worked by blacks relative to whites, which leads to a reduction in the racial earnings gap between black and white workers. The results are consistent and robust to using a wide range of models, controls and specifications.

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Racial Disparities in Savings Behavior for a Continuously Employed Cohort

Kai Yuan Kuan, Mark Cullen & Sepideh Modrek
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
The wealth gap has reached record highs. At the same time there has been substantial proliferation of 401(k) savings accounts as the dominant retirement savings vehicle, and these accounts make up an increasing proportion of overall wealth. In this paper we examine 401(k) saving behavior of continuously employed workers over an eight-year period at a single, geographically diverse employer. We demonstrate substantial difference in 401(k) savings behavior by employee ethnicity even within a single employer 401(k) plan architecture. We show both African American and Hispanic employees are less likely to participate in the 401(k) plans. Moreover, conditional on participation African Americans contribute a lower proportion of their income to their 401(k) plan on average. We also show that African Americans and Hispanics tend to draw down on their 401(k) balances more often. Finally, we document that both African Americans and Hispanics favor safer assets within their plan options. Together these differences substantially impact the level of 401(k) balances accumulated and therefore overall wealth accumulation.

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The Double Role of Ethnic Heterogeneity in Explaining Welfare-State Generosity

Markus Jantti, Gerald Jaynes & John Roemer
Yale Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Based on theoretical models of budget-balanced social insurance and individual choice, we argue that in addition to the well-known empathy mechanism whereby ethnic heterogeneity undermines sentiments of solidarity among a citizenry to reduce welfare generosity, population heterogeneity affects the generosity of a polity's social insurance programs through another distinct mechanism, political conflict. Ethnic heterogeneity likely intensifies political conflict and reduces welfare generosity because heterogeneity of unemployment risk makes it more difficult to achieve social consensus concerning tax-benefit programs. Utilizing two separate regression analyses covering highly diverse polities, the 50 U.S. states and District of Columbia (CPS data), and 13 OECD countries (LIS data), we find strong evidence that empirically distinct empathy and political conflict effects on unemployment insurance programs characterize contemporary politics. Our findings suggest existing analyses of the negative relationship between ethnic heterogeneity and the size of the welfare state likely over- or underestimate the empathy effect. For example, perhaps surprisingly, had our analysis of US data omitted a measure of unemployment dispersion, the negative effect of ethnic fractionalization would have been underestimated.

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A comparative study of the general factor of personality in Jewish and non-Jewish populations

Curtis Dunkel et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, May 2015, Pages 63–67

Abstract:
It was hypothesized that Jews would have a personality profile characterized by high levels of the general factor of personality (GFP). Analyses based on three large samples supported this hypothesis. Additionally, the Jewish/non-Jewish group difference on personality traits exhibited a Jensen Effect with the largest difference between groups being on the traits that had the highest loadings on the GFP. Future research should focus on investigating how the high Jewish GFP is manifested in behavioral and social outcomes.

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Socioeconomic Stratification from Within: Changes Within American Indian Cohorts in the United States: 1990–2010

Jennifer Glick & Seung Yong Han
Population Research and Policy Review, February 2015, Pages 77-112

Abstract:
Socioeconomic inequality in the United States persists with disparities in education, earnings, and health evident across racial and ethnic groups. Somewhat less attention has been given to the importance of inequality within minority racial and pan-ethnic groups. This paper considers the increasing divergence of socioeconomic status within cohorts of American Indian and Alaskan Native (AIAN) adults in the United States. The analyses rely on US Census data for 1990, 2000, and 2010 to examine the relative contribution of demographic change and change in self-identification to the size of AIAN adult cohorts over time. Decomposition analyses demonstrate that declines in poverty within the AIAN cohorts are largely attributable to the more advantaged status of individuals who select AIAN in combination with other racial identifications.

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The Fluidity of Race: "Passing" in the United States, 1880-1940

Emily Nix & Nancy Qian
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
This paper quantifies the extent to which individuals experience changes in reported racial identity in the historical U.S. context. Using the full population of historical Censuses for 1880-1940, we document that over 19% of black males “passed” for white at some point during their lifetime, around 10% of whom later “reverse-passed” to being black; passing was accompanied by geographic relocation to communities with a higher percentage of whites and occurred the most in Northern states. The evidence suggests that passing was positively associated with better political-economic and social opportunities for whites relative to blacks. As such, endogenous race is likely to be a quantitatively important phenomenon.

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Contact Theory in a Small-Town Settler-Colonial Context: The Reproduction of Laissez-Faire Racism in Indigenous-White Canadian Relations

Jeffrey Denis
American Sociological Review, February 2015, Pages 218-242

Abstract:
This article builds on group position theory and the subcategorization model of intergroup contact by illustrating how, in a small-town settler-colonial context, contact tends to reproduce, rather than challenge, the inequitable racial structure. In Northwestern Ontario, Indigenous-settler relations are characterized by widespread intergroup marriage and friendship as well as pervasive prejudice and discrimination. Using 18 months of fieldwork and 160 interviews and surveys with First Nations, Métis, and non-Indigenous residents, I show that although contact is associated with less “old-fashioned” prejudice (i.e., overt categorical hostility), it does not necessarily eliminate whites’ superior sense of group position. Even white individuals who have close Indigenous friends or spouses often express laissez-faire racism. Three mutually reinforcing social processes — subtyping, ideology-based homophily, and political avoidance norms — interact to sustain whites’ sense of group superiority and justifications for racial inequity. These processes are facilitated by historical and structural conditions, in this case colonization and small-town dynamics.

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Homebuyer Neighborhood Attainment in Black and White: Housing Outcomes during the Housing Boom and Bust

Mary Fischer & Travis Scott Lowe
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the types of neighborhoods that black and white homebuyers have secured loans in during the recent housing boom and subsequent bust. We expand upon and refine previous research on locational attainment using loan-level data from the 1992–2010 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) combined with tract- and metropolitan-level data from the 1990, 2000, and 2010 Census and the American Community Survey. Multilevel models show that black homebuyers are moving into considerably more racially segregated neighborhoods than their white counterparts and that their access to “whiter” neighborhoods did not expand during the housing boom, even after controlling for the racial composition of the metropolitan area and other key ecological factors. Conversely, new white homebuyers have been moving into neighborhoods with greater percent black residents, which may be a contributing factor in observed declines in segregation during the past few decades. Additionally, black homebuyers in metropolitan areas with greater suburban growth were on average accessing homes in more integrated neighborhoods. Finally, the models explained considerably more of the variation in the neighborhood racial composition of whites compared to blacks. These findings are suggestive of a dual housing market, one in which the experiences of blacks are still systematically different than those of whites, despite expanded access to homeownership.

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Ebonics, to Be or Not to Be? A Legacy of Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Michael Takafor Ndemanu
Journal of Black Studies, January 2015, Pages 23-43

Abstract:
This article discusses the historical underpinnings of Ebonics as a product of linguistic influence of Bantu languages spoken in West Africa today. Many teacher educators preparing White pre-service teachers for linguistic diversity in public schools tend to focus mostly on respecting culturally different students’ home languages without employing historical, lexical, grammatical, and phonological evidence to challenge students’ deficit thinking about Ebonics, which is often associated in the mainstream with a physiological deficiency. Thus, the study uses several Niger-Congo languages to explain the origin of Ebonics and the influences of the Niger-Congo languages on the grammatical and phonological structures of Ebonics, and concludes by defining it as a respectable variety of English with its own sophisticated grammar.

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Racial Identity and Well-Being among African Americans

Michael Hughes et al.
Social Psychology Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
How racial identity influences self-esteem and psychological well-being among African Americans remains unresolved due to unexplained inconsistencies in theoretical predictions and empirical findings. Using data from the National Survey of American Life (N = 3,570), we tested hypotheses derived from social identity theory and the internalized racism perspective. Findings support social identity theory in showing that African Americans strongly identify with their group and view it very positively. In addition, those who identify more with their group and evaluate it more positively have greater self-esteem, greater mastery, and fewer depressive symptoms. However, findings also support the internalized racism perspective by showing that when group evaluation is relatively negative, racial identification is related to lower mastery and higher depressive symptoms. We conclude that both social identity theory and the internalized racism perspective are necessary for understanding how racial identity is related to self-attitudes and mental health among African Americans.

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Perceived Discrimination, Intergenerational Family Conflicts, and Depressive Symptoms in Foreign-Born and U.S.-Born Asian American Emerging Adults

Hsiu-Lan Cheng, Shu-Ping Lin & Chu Hui Cha
Asian American Journal of Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present study examined a mediation model that hypothesized intergenerational family conflicts would mediate the association between perceived racial discrimination and depressive symptoms among foreign-born and U.S.-born Asian American emerging adults (N = 678) recruited from a large university in the Midwest. The model further hypothesized that the connection between intergenerational family conflicts and depressive symptoms would be stronger for foreign-born individuals than U.S.-born persons. Multigroup structural equation modeling results supported the proposed mediation model. Regardless of nativity status, higher levels of perceived racial discrimination were associated with more occurrences of intergenerational family conflicts with mothers and fathers; conflicts with mothers, in turn, were linked to higher levels of depressive symptoms among Asian American emerging adults. The association between intergenerational family conflicts and depressive symptoms, however, was not greater for the foreign-born than the U.S.-born group. Findings suggest the importance of considering racism as a potential contributing factor to intergenerational conflicts arising in Asian American families and highlight the critical role of conflicts with mothers in cascading the effects of discrimination on young emerging adults’ depressive concerns. The present cross-sectional investigation, however, precludes inference about causality. Directions for future research, including verification of the mediation model through longitudinal data, are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, February 23, 2015

Consult your provider

Why Has Medicine Expanded? The Role of Consumers

Hui Zheng
Social Science Research, July 2015, Pages 34–46

Abstract:
In the past 50 years, the field of medicine has expanded dramatically in many Western societies. Despite substantial improvements in objective health measures, there has not been a commensurate increase in assessments of subjective health. We hypothesize that medical expansion may lower people’s subjective health perceptions, leading to an increase in health care utilization, and, in turn, fueling further medical expansion. We use OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) Health Data, World Development Indicators, the World Values Survey, and the European Values Study to fit a difference-in-differences model that removes unobserved cross-national heterogeneity and any period trend that is shared across nations. We find that three dimensions of medical expansion at the societal level (medical investment, medical professionalization/specialization, and an expanded pharmaceutical industry) negatively affect individual subjective health. These findings are robust to different model specifications. We conclude by discussing possible explanations for the adverse effect of medical expansion on subjective health, and how this effect may be related to other mechanisms through which medicine expands.

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Childhood Medicaid Coverage and Later Life Health Care Utilization

Laura Wherry et al.
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
Policy-makers have argued that providing public health insurance coverage to the uninsured lowers long-run costs by reducing the need for expensive hospitalizations and emergency department visits later in life. In this paper, we provide evidence for such a phenomenon by exploiting a legislated discontinuity in the cumulative number of years a child is eligible for Medicaid based on date of birth. We find that having more years of Medicaid eligibility in childhood is associated with fewer hospitalizations and emergency department visits in adulthood for blacks. Our effects are particularly pronounced for hospitalizations and emergency department visits related to chronic illnesses and those of patients living in low-income neighborhoods. Furthermore, we find suggestive evidence that these effects are larger in states where the difference in the number of Medicaid-eligible years across the cutoff birth date is greater. We do not find effects on hospitalizations related to appendicitis or injury, two conditions that are unlikely to be affected by medical intervention in childhood. Our calculations suggest that lower rates of hospitalizations and emergency department visits during one year in adulthood offset between 3 and 5 percent of the initial costs of expanding Medicaid. This implies substantial savings if the decline in utilization spans multiple years or grows with age.

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“Rights without Access”: The Political Context of Inequality in Health Care Coverage in the U.S. States

Ling Zhu & Jennifer Clark
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The question of how the American political process shapes inequality remains unsettled. While recent studies break ground by linking inequality to political institutions, much of this work focuses on national-level income inequality. The literature is lacking in its examination of inequality in other issue areas at the subnational level. This research explores how partisanship in government affects subnational-level inequality in health care coverage in the context of racial diversity. Using a new Gini-coefficient measure of inequality in health insurance coverage, we find a negative relationship between the seat share of Democratic representatives and inequality in health care coverage but only in states with racially diverse populations. Moreover, Democratic-controlled state legislatures mitigate the negative impact of racial diversity on inequality in health care coverage. These results highlight the importance of examining the partisan foundation of health care inequality in the context of racial diversity.

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Censored Quantile Instrumental Variable Estimates of the Price Elasticity of Expenditure on Medical Care

Amanda Kowalski
Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Efforts to control medical care costs depend critically on how individuals respond to prices. I estimate the price elasticity of expenditure on medical care using a censored quantile instrumental variable (CQIV) estimator. CQIV allows estimates to vary across the conditional expenditure distribution, relaxes traditional censored model assumptions, and addresses endogeneity with an instrumental variable. My instrumental variable strategy uses a family member’s injury to induce variation in an individual’s own price. Across the conditional deciles of the expenditure distribution, I find elasticities that vary from -0.76 to -1.49, which are an order of magnitude larger than previous estimates.

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Did the Affordable Care Act's Dependent Coverage Mandate Increase Premiums?

Briggs Depew & James Bailey
Journal of Health Economics, May 2015, Pages 1–14

Abstract:
We investigate the impact of the Affordable Care Act's dependent coverage mandate on insurance premiums. The expansion of dependent coverage under the ACA allows young adults to remain on their parent's private health insurance plans until the age of 26. We find that the mandate has led to a 2.5-2.8 percent increase in premiums for health insurance plans that cover children, relative to single-coverage plans. We are able to conclude that employers did not pass on the entire premium increase to employees through higher required plan contributions.

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The Impact of Market Size and Composition on Health Insurance Premiums: Evidence from the First Year of the ACA

Michael Dickstein et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Under the Affordable Care Act, individual states have discretion in how they define coverage regions, within which insurers must charge the same premium to buyers of the same age, family structure, and smoking status. We exploit variation in these definitions to investigate whether the size of the coverage region affects outcomes in the ACA marketplaces. We find large consequences for small and rural markets. When states combine small counties with neighboring urban areas into a single region, the included rural markets see .6 to .8 more active insurers, on average, and savings in annual premiums of between $200 and $300.

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Medicare Is Scrutinizing Evidence More Tightly For National Coverage Determinations

James Chambers et al.
Health Affairs, February 2015, Pages 253-260

Abstract:
We examined Medicare national coverage determinations for medical interventions to determine whether or not they have become more restrictive over time. National coverage determinations address whether particular big-ticket medical items, services, treatment procedures, and technologies can be paid for under Medicare. We found that after we adjusted for the strength of evidence and other factors known to influence the determinations of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the evidentiary bar for coverage has risen. More recent coverage determinations (from mid-March 2008 through August 2012) were twenty times less likely to be positive than earlier coverage determinations (from February 1999 through January 2002). Furthermore, coverage during the study period was increasingly and positively associated both with the degree of consistency of favorable findings in the CMS reviewed clinical evidence and with recommendations made in clinical guidelines. Coverage policy is an important payer tool for promoting the appropriate use of medical interventions, but CMS’s rising evidence standards also raise questions about patients’ access to new technologies and about hurdles for the pharmaceutical and device industries as they attempt to bring innovations to the market.

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The Impact of Near-Universal Insurance Coverage on Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening: Evidence from Massachusetts

Lindsay Sabik & Cathy Bradley
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the effect of expansion to near-universal health insurance coverage in Massachusetts on breast and cervical cancer screening. We use data from 2002 to 2010 to compare changes in receipt of mammograms and Pap tests in Massachusetts relative to other New England states. We also consider the effect specifically among low-income women. We find positive effects of Massachusetts health reform on cancer screening, suggesting a 4 to 5% increase in mammograms and 6 to 7% increase in Pap tests annually. Increases in both breast and cervical cancer screening are larger 3 years after the implementation of reform than in the year immediately following, suggesting that there may be an adjustment or learning period. Low-income women experience greater increases in breast and cervical cancer screening than the overall population; among women with household income less than 250% of the federal poverty level, mammograms increase by approximately 8% and Pap tests by 9%. Overall, Massachusetts health reform appears to have increased breast and cervical cancer screening, particularly among low-income women. Our results suggest that reform was successful in promoting preventive care among targeted populations.

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Pricing Regulation and Imperfect Competition on the Massachusetts Health Insurance Exchange

Keith Marzilli Ericson & Amanda Starc
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We analyze insurance-pricing regulation under imperfect competition on Massachusetts’ health insurance exchange. Differential markups lead to price variation apart from cost variation. Coarse insurer pricing strategies identify consumer demand. Younger consumers are twice as price sensitive as older consumers. Older consumers thus face higher markups over costs. Modified community rating links prices for consumers differing in both costs and preferences, and changes the marginal consumer firms face. Stricter regulations transfer resources from low-cost to high-cost consumers, reduce firm profits, and increase overall consumer surplus.

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Patient Responses to Incentives in Consumer-directed Health Plans: Evidence from Pharmaceuticals

Peter Huckfeldt et al.
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
Prior studies suggest that consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) -characterized by high deductibles and health care accounts- reduce health costs, but there is concern that enrollees indiscriminately reduce use of low-value services (e.g., unnecessary emergency department use) and high-value services (e.g., preventive care). We investigate how CDHP enrollees change use of pharmaceuticals for chronic diseases. We compare two large firms where nearly all employees were switched to CDHPs to firms with conventional health insurance plans. In the first firm’s CDHP, pharmaceuticals were subject to the deductible, while in the second firm pharmaceuticals were exempt. Employees in the first firm shifted the timing of drug purchases to periods with lower cost sharing and were more likely to use lower-cost drugs, but the largest effect of the CDHP was to reduce utilization. Employees in the second firm also reduced utilization, but did not shift the timing or use of low cost drugs.

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Do Medicaid HMOs reduce utilization? Evidence from Florida obstetrics

Atul Gupta
Stanford Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Using hospital discharge data on Medicaid patients, I test whether physicians choose C-sections less often for HMO patients relative to non-HMO patients. I find that the odds of an HMO patient receiving a primary C-section are about 40% lower, holding all else equal. The effect is heterogeneous and declines in magnitude as patients become more complex. A stylized principal-agent model of physician procedure choice estimates that physicians put about 20% less weight on patient related factors for non-HMO patients relative to HMO enrollees. Hence the agency distortion is more severe in the case of non-HMO patients.

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Quality Ratings and Premiums in the Medicare Advantage Market

Ian McCarthy & Michael Darden
Emory University Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
We examine the response of Medicare Advantage contracts to published quality ratings. We identify the effect of star ratings on premiums using a regression discontinuity design that exploits plausibly random variation around rating thresholds. We find that 3, 3.5, and 4-star contracts in 2009 significantly increased their 2010 monthly premiums by $20 or more relative to contracts just below the respective threshold values. High quality contracts also disproportionately dropped $0 premium plans or expanded their offering of positive premium plans. Welfare results suggest that the estimated premium increases reduced consumer welfare by over $250 million among the affected beneficiaries.

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The Local Influence of Pioneer Investigators on Technology Adoption: Evidence from New Cancer Drugs

Leila Agha & David Molitor
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Local opinion leaders may play a key role in easing information frictions associated with technology adoption. This paper analyzes the influence of physician investigators who lead pivotal clinical trials for new cancer drugs. By comparing diffusion patterns across many drugs, we separate correlated regional demand for new technology from information spillovers. Using original data on clinical trial study authors for 21 new cancer drugs along with Medicare claims data from 1998-2008, we find that patients in the lead investigator’s region are initially 36% more likely to receive the new drug, but utilization converges within four years. We further demonstrate that “superstar” physicians, identified by trial role or citation history, have substantially broader influence than less prominent physicians.

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Interpreting Pre-trends as Anticipation: Impact on Estimated Treatment Effects from Tort Reform

Anup Malani & Julian Reif
Journal of Public Economics, April 2015, Pages 1–17

Abstract:
While conducting empirical work, researchers sometimes observe changes in outcomes before adoption of a new policy. The conventional diagnosis is that treatment is endogenous. This observation is also consistent, however, with anticipation effects that arise naturally out of many theoretical models. This paper illustrates that distinguishing endogeneity from anticipation matters greatly when estimating treatment effects. It provides a framework for comparing different methods for estimating anticipation effects and proposes a new set of instrumental variables to address the problem that subjects’ expectations are unobservable. Finally, this paper examines a specific set of tort reforms that was not targeted at physicians but was likely anticipated by them. Interpreting pre-trends as evidence of anticipation increases the estimated effect of these reforms by a factor of two compared to a model that ignores anticipation.

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Association of Hospital Participation in a Quality Reporting Program With Surgical Outcomes and Expenditures for Medicare Beneficiaries

Nicholas Osborne et al.
Journal of the American Medical Association, 3 February 2015, Pages 496-504

Importance: The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) provides feedback to hospitals on risk-adjusted outcomes. It is not known if participation in the program improves outcomes and reduces costs relative to nonparticipating hospitals.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Quasi-experimental study using national Medicare data (2003-2012) for a total of 1 226 479 patients undergoing general and vascular surgery at 263 hospitals participating in ACS NSQIP and 526 nonparticipating hospitals. A difference-in-differences analytic approach was used to evaluate whether participation in ACS NSQIP was associated with improved outcomes and reduced Medicare payments compared with nonparticipating hospitals that were otherwise similar. Control hospitals were selected using propensity score matching (2 control hospitals for each ACS NSQIP hospital).

Results: After accounting for patient factors and preexisting time trends toward improved outcomes, there were no statistically significant improvements in outcomes at 1, 2, or 3 years after (vs before) enrollment in ACS NSQIP. For example, in analyses comparing outcomes at 3 years after (vs before) enrollment, there were no statistically significant differences in risk-adjusted 30-day mortality (4.3% after enrollment vs 4.5% before enrollment; relative risk [RR], 0.96 [95% CI, 0.89 to 1.03]), serious complications (11.1% after enrollment vs 11.0% before enrollment; RR, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.91 to 1.00]), reoperations (0.49% after enrollment vs 0.45% before enrollment; RR, 0.97 [95% CI, 0.77 to 1.16]), or readmissions (13.3% after enrollment vs 12.8% before enrollment; RR, 0.99 [95% CI, 0.96 to 1.03]). There were also no differences at 3 years after (vs before) enrollment in mean total Medicare payments ($40 [95% CI, −$268 to $348]), or payments for the index admission (−$11 [95% CI, −$278 to $257]), hospital readmission ($245 [95% CI, −$231 to $721]), or outliers (−$86 [95% CI, −$1666 to $1495]).

Conclusions and Relevance: With time, hospitals had progressively better surgical outcomes but enrollment in a national quality reporting program was not associated with the improved outcomes or lower Medicare payments among surgical patients. Feedback on outcomes alone may not be sufficient to improve surgical outcomes.

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Association of Hospital Participation in a Surgical Outcomes Monitoring Program With Inpatient Complications and Mortality

David Etzioni et al.
Journal of the American Medical Association, 3 February 2015, Pages 505-511

Importance: Programs that analyze and report rates of surgical complications are an increasing focus of quality improvement efforts. The most comprehensive tool currently used for outcomes monitoring in the United States is the American College of Surgeons (ACS) National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP).

Design, Setting, and Participants: Data from the University HealthSystem Consortium from January 2009 to July 2013 were used to identify elective hospitalizations representing a broad spectrum of elective general/vascular operations in the United States. Data on hospital participation in the NSQIP were obtained through review of semiannual reports published by the ACS. Hospitalizations at any hospital that discontinued or initiated participation in the NSQIP during the study period were excluded after the date on which that hospital’s status changed. A difference-in-differences approach was used to model the association between hospital-based participation in NSQIP and changes in rates of postoperative outcomes over time.

Results: The cohort included 345 357 hospitalizations occurring in 113 different academic hospitals; 172 882 (50.1%) hospitalizations were in NSQIP hospitals. Hospitalized patients were predominantly female (61.5%), with a mean age of 55.7 years. The types of procedures performed most commonly in the analyzed hospitalizations were hernia repairs (15.7%), bariatric (10.5%), mastectomy (9.7%), and cholecystectomy (9.0%). After accounting for patient risk, procedure type, underlying hospital performance, and temporal trends, the difference-in-differences model demonstrated no statistically significant differences over time between NSQIP and non-NSQIP hospitals in terms of likelihood of complications (adjusted odds ratio, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.97-1.03), serious complications (adjusted odds ratio, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.94-1.03), or mortality (adjusted odds ratio, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.94-1.14).

Conclusions and Relevance: No association was found between hospital-based participation in the NSQIP and improvements in postoperative outcomes over time within a large cohort of patients undergoing elective general/vascular operations at academic hospitals in the United States. These findings suggest that a surgical outcomes reporting system does not provide a clear mechanism for quality improvement.

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US Hospital Payment Adjustments For Innovative Technology Lag Behind Those In Germany, France, And Japan

John Hernandez, Susanne Machacz & James Robinson
Health Affairs, February 2015, Pages 261-270

Abstract:
Medicare pioneered add-on payments to facilitate the adoption of innovative technologies under its hospital prospective payment system. US policy makers are now experimenting with broader value-based payment initiatives, but these have not been adjusted for innovation. This article examines the structure, processes, and experience with Medicare’s hospital new technology add-on payment program since its inception in 2001 and compares it with analogous payment systems in Germany, France, and Japan. Between 2001 and 2015 CMS approved nineteen of fifty-three applications for the new technology add-on payment program. We found that the program resulted in $201.7 million in Medicare payments in fiscal years 2002–13 — less than half the level anticipated by Congress and only 34 percent of the amount projected by CMS. The US program approved considerably fewer innovative technologies, compared to analogous technology payment mechanisms in Germany, France and Japan. We conclude that it is important to adjust payments for new medical innovations within prospective and value-based payment systems explicitly as well as implicitly. The most straightforward method to use in adjusting value-based payments is for the insurer to retrospectively adjust spending targets to account for the cost of new technologies. If CMS made such retrospective adjustments, it would not financially penalize hospitals for adopting beneficial innovations.

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Cost Saving and Quality of Care in a Pediatric Accountable Care Organization

Kelly Kelleher et al.
Pediatrics, forthcoming

Background and objectives: Accountable care organizations (ACOs) are responsible for costs and quality across a defined population. To succeed, the ACO must improve value by reducing costs while either maintaining or improving the quality of care. We examined changes from 2008 through 2013 in the cost and quality of care for Partners for Kids (PFK), a pediatric ACO serving an Ohio Medicaid population.

Methods: We measured the historical cost of care for PFK and gathered comparison statewide Ohio Medicaid fee-for-service (FFS) and managed care (MC) cost histories. Changes in quality of care measures were assessed by using 15 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Pediatric Quality Indicators and 4 indicators targeted by PFK.

Results: PFK per-member-per-month costs were lower in 2008 than either FFS or MC (P < .001) costs and grew at a rate of $2.40 per year compared with FFS increases of $16.15 per year (P < .001) and MC increases of $6.47 per year (P < .121) with ∼3.5 million member-months each year. The quality of care of children in PFK improved significantly (P < .05) in 2011–2013 versus 2008–2010 on 5 quality measures (including 2 composite measures) and declined significantly on 3 measures. Other measures did not change or were rare events with no measureable change.

Conclusions: PFK reduced the growth in costs compared with FFS Medicaid and averages less than MC Medicaid. This slowing in cost growth was achieved without diminishing the overall quality or outcomes of care. PFK thus improved the value of care for Medicaid children.

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Appointment Availability after Increases in Medicaid Payments for Primary Care

Daniel Polsky et al.
New England Journal of Medicine, 5 February 2015, Pages 537-545

Background: Providing increases in Medicaid reimbursements for primary care, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), raised Medicaid payments to Medicare levels in 2013 and 2014 for selected services and providers. The federally funded increase in reimbursements was aimed at expanding access to primary care for the growing number of Medicaid enrollees. The reimbursement increase expired at the end of 2014 in most states before policymakers had much empirical evidence about its effects.

Methods: We measured the availability of and waiting times for appointments in 10 states during two periods: from November 2012 through March 2013 and from May 2014 through July 2014. Trained field staff posed as either Medicaid enrollees or privately insured enrollees seeking new-patient primary care appointments. We estimated state-level changes over time in a stable cohort of primary care practices that participated in Medicaid to assess whether willingness to provide appointments for new Medicaid enrollees was related to the size of increases in Medicaid reimbursements in each state.

Results: The availability of primary care appointments in the Medicaid group increased by 7.7 percentage points, from 58.7% to 66.4%, between the two time periods. The states with the largest increases in availability tended to be those with the largest increases in reimbursements, with an estimated increase of 1.25 percentage points in availability per 10% increase in Medicaid reimbursements (P=0.03). No such association was observed in the private-insurance group. During the same periods, waiting times to a scheduled new-patient appointment remained stable over time in the two study groups.

Conclusions: Our study provides early evidence that increased Medicaid reimbursement to primary care providers, as mandated in the ACA, was associated with improved appointment availability for Medicaid enrollees among participating providers without generating longer waiting times.

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Defensive Medicine in Neurosurgery: Does State-Level Liability Risk Matter?

Timothy Smith et al.
Neurosurgery, February 2015, Pages 105–114

Objective: To examine the relationship of defensive medicine — both “assurance” behaviors and “avoidance” behaviors — to the liability environment.

Methods: A 51-question online survey was sent to 3344 US neurosurgeon members of the American Board of Neurological Surgeons (ABNS). The survey was anonymous and conducted over 6 weeks in the spring of 2011. The previously validated questionnaire contained questions on neurosurgeon, patient, and practice characteristics; perceptions of the liability environment; and defensive-medicine behaviors. Bivariate and multivariate analyses examined the state liability risk environment as a predictor of a neurosurgeon's likelihood of practicing defensive medicine.

Results: A total of 1026 neurosurgeons completed the survey (31% response rate). Neurosurgeons' perceptions of their state's liability environment generally corresponded well to more objective measures of state-level liability risk because 83% of respondents correctly identified that they were practicing in a high-risk environment. When controlling for surgeon experience, income, high-risk patient load, liability history, and type of patient insurance, neurosurgeons were 50% more likely to practice defensive medicine in high-risk states compared with low-risk-risk states (odds ratio: 1.5, P < .05).

Conclusion: Both avoidance and assurance behaviors are prevalent among US neurosurgeons and are correlated with subjective and objective measures of state-level liability risk. Defensive medicine practices do not align with patient-centered care and may contribute to increased inefficiency in an already taxed health care system.

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What Do Longitudinal Data on Millions of Hospital Visits Tell us About The Value of Public Health Insurance as a Safety Net for the Young and Privately Insured?

Amanda Kowalski
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Young people with private health insurance sometimes transition to the public health insurance safety net after they get sick, but popular sources of cross-sectional data obscure how frequently these transitions occur. We use longitudinal data on almost all hospital visits in New York from 1995 to 2011. We show that young privately insured individuals with diagnoses that require more hospital visits in subsequent years are more likely to transition to public insurance. If we ignore the longitudinal transitions in our data, we obscure over 80% of the value of public health insurance to the young and privately insured.

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Regional Growth in Medicare Spending, 1992–2010

Camille Chicklis et al.
Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To determine if regions with high Medicare expenditures in a given setting remain high cost over time.

Data Sources/Study Setting: One hundred percent of national Medicare Parts A and B fee-for-service beneficiary claims data and enrollment for 1992–2010.

Principal Findings: High-cost regions in 1992 are likely to remain high cost in 2010. Stability in regional spending is highest in the home health, inpatient hospital, and outpatient hospital settings over this time period. Despite the persistence of a region's relative spending over time, a region's spending levels in all settings except home health tend to regress toward the mean.

Conclusions: Relatively high-cost regions tend to remain so over long periods of time, even after controlling for patient health status and geographic price variation, suggesting that the observed effect reflects real differences in practice patterns.

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New Evidence on the Persistence of Health Spending

Richard Hirth et al.
Medical Care Research and Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Surprisingly little is known about long-term spending patterns in the under-65 population. Such information could inform efforts to improve coverage and control costs. Using the MarketScan claims database, we characterize the persistence of health care spending in the privately insured, under-65 population. Over a 6-year period, 69.8% of enrollees never had annual spending in the top 10% of the distribution and the bottom 50% of spenders accounted for less than 10% of spending. Those in the top 10% in 2003 were almost as likely (34.4%) to be in the top 10% five years later as one year later (43.4%). Many comorbid conditions retained much of their predictive power even 5 years later. The persistence at both ends of the spending distribution indicates the potential for adverse selection and cream skimming and supports the use of disease management, particularly for those with the conditions that remained strong predictors of high spending throughout the follow-up period.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Wired

Media and Human Capital Development: Can Video Game Playing Make You Smarter?

Agne Suziedelyte
Economic Inquiry, April 2015, Pages 1140–1155

Abstract:
According to the literature, video game playing can improve such cognitive skills as problem solving, abstract reasoning, and spatial logic. I test this hypothesis using the data from the Child Development Supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. The endogeneity of video game playing is addressed by using panel data methods and controlling for an extensive list of child and family characteristics. To address the measurement error in video game playing, I instrument children's weekday time use with their weekend time use. After taking into account the endogeneity and measurement error, video game playing is found to positively affect children's problem solving ability. The effect of video game playing on problem solving ability is comparable to the effect of educational activities.

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The magical numbers 7 and 4 are resistant to the Flynn effect: No evidence for increases in forward or backward recall across 85 years of data

Gilles Gignac
Intelligence, January–February 2015, Pages 85–95

Abstract:
A substantial amount of empirical research suggests that cognitive ability test scores are increasing by approximately three IQ points per decade. The effect, referred to as the Flynn effect, has been found to be more substantial on measures of fluid intelligence, a construct known to be substantially correlated with memory span. Miller (1956) suggested that the typical short-term memory capacity (STMC) of an adult is seven, plus or minus two objects. Cowan (2005) suggested that the typical working memory capacity (WMC) of an adult is four, plus or minus one object. However, the possibility that both STMC and WMC test scores may be increasing across time, in line with the Flynn effect, does not appear to have been tested comprehensively yet. Based on Digit Span Forward (DSF) and Digit Span Backward (DSB) adult test scores across 85 years of data (respective Ns of 7,077 and 6,841), the mean adult verbal STMC was estimated at 6.56 (± 2.39), and the mean adult verbal WMC was estimated at 4.88 (± 2.58). No increasing trend in the STMC or WMC test scores was observed from 1923 to 2008, suggesting that these two cognitive processes are unaffected by the Flynn effect. Consequently, if the Flynn effect is occurring, it would appear to be a phenomenon that is completely independent of STMC and WMC, which may be surprising, given the close correspondence between WMC and fluid intelligence.

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More Symmetrical Children Have Faster and More Consistent Choice Reaction Times

David Hope et al.
Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Greater cognitive ability in childhood is associated with increased longevity, and speedier reaction time (RT) might account for much of this linkage. Greater bodily symmetry is linked to both higher cognitive test scores and faster RTs. It is possible, then, that differences in bodily system integrity indexed by symmetry may underlie the associations of RT and intelligence with increased longevity. However, RT and symmetry have seldom been examined in the same study, and never in children. Here, in 2 large samples aged 4 to 15 (combined n = 856), we found that more symmetrical children had significantly faster mean choice RT and less variability in RT. These associations of faster and less variable RT with greater symmetry early in life raise the possibility that the determinants of longevity in part originate in processes influencing bodily system integrity early in the life-course.

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The influence of video games on executive functions in college students

Melissa Buelow, Bradley Okdie & Ashley Cooper
Computers in Human Behavior, April 2015, Pages 228–234

Abstract:
Video game play can have a negative effect on affect and behavior, but its relationship with cognition has been mixed. Previous research has shown both positive and negative effects of video game play on attention, memory, and other cognitive abilities; however, little research has investigated its effects on executive functions other than working memory. Additionally, most studies have utilized predominantly male samples. The present study sought to examine the effects of active video game play on decision making, problem solving, and risk-taking. Two hundred twenty-eight undergraduate students (114 female) played one of five different video games (n = 91) or were part of a separate, no-game control condition (n = 137). Scores on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), and Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST) were then compared. Following active video game play, participants decided more advantageously on the IGT, and made fewer errors and completed more categories on the WCST. No group differences emerged on the BART, and gender did not impact any dependent variables. It appears that active video game play may have positive effects on some executive functions with implications for real-world behavior. Implications for future research are discussed.

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Tyrosine promotes cognitive flexibility: Evidence from proactive vs. reactive control during task switching performance

Laura Steenbergen et al.
Neuropsychologia, March 2015, Pages 50–55

Abstract:
Tyrosine (TYR), an amino acid found in various foods, has been shown to increase dopamine (DA) levels in the brain. Recent studies have provided evidence that TYR supplementation can improve facets of cognitive control in situations with high cognitive demands. Here we investigated whether TYR promotes cognitive flexibility, a cognitive-control function that is assumed to be modulated by DA. We tested the effect of TYR on proactive vs. reactive control during task switching performance, which provides a relatively well-established diagnostic of cognitive flexibility. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled design, 22 healthy adults performed in a task-switching paradigm. Compared to a neutral placebo, TYR promoted cognitive flexibility (i.e. reduced switching costs). This finding supports the idea that TYR can facilitate cognitive flexibility by repleting cognitive resources.

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Decision-making conflict and the neural efficiency hypothesis of intelligence: A functional near-infrared spectroscopy investigation

Stefano Di Domenico et al.
NeuroImage, 1 April 2015, Pages 307–317

Abstract:
Research on the neural efficiency hypothesis of intelligence (NEH) has revealed that the brains of more intelligent individuals consume less energy when performing easy cognitive tasks but more energy when engaged in difficult mental operations. However, previous studies testing the NEH have relied on cognitive tasks that closely resemble psychometric tests of intelligence, potentially confounding efficiency during intelligence-test performance with neural efficiency per se. The present study sought to provide a novel test of the NEH by examining patterns of prefrontal activity while participants completed an experimental paradigm that is qualitatively distinct from the contents of psychometric tests of intelligence. Specifically, participants completed a personal decision-making task (e.g., which occupation would you prefer, dancer or chemist?) in which they made a series of forced choices according to their subjective preferences. The degree of decisional conflict (i.e., choice difficulty) between the available response options was manipulated on the basis of participants' unique preference ratings for the target stimuli, which were obtained prior to scanning. Evoked oxygenation of the prefrontal cortex was measured using 16-channel continuous-wave functional near-infrared spectroscopy. Consistent with the NEH, intelligence predicted decreased activation of the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) during low-conflict situations and increased activation of the right-IFG during high-conflict situations. This pattern of the right-IFG activity among more intelligent individuals was complemented by faster reaction times in high-conflict situations. These results provide new support for the NEH and suggest that the neural efficiency of more intelligent individuals generalizes to the performance of cognitive tasks that are distinct from intelligence tests.

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Do we really become smarter when our fluid-intelligence test scores improve?

Taylor Hayes, Alexander Petrov & Per Sederberg
Intelligence, January–February 2015, Pages 1–14

Abstract:
Recent reports of training-induced gains on fluid intelligence tests have fueled an explosion of interest in cognitive training — now a billion-dollar industry. The interpretation of these results is questionable because score gains can be dominated by factors that play marginal roles in the scores themselves, and because intelligence gain is not the only possible explanation for the observed control-adjusted far transfer across tasks. Here we present novel evidence that the test score gains used to measure the efficacy of cognitive training may reflect strategy refinement instead of intelligence gains. A novel scanpath analysis of eye movement data from 35 participants solving Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices on two separate sessions indicated that one-third of the variance of score gains could be attributed to test-taking strategy alone, as revealed by characteristic changes in eye-fixation patterns. When the strategic contaminant was partialled out, the residual score gains were no longer significant. These results are compatible with established theories of skill acquisition suggesting that procedural knowledge tacitly acquired during training can later be utilized at posttest. Our novel method and result both underline a reason to be wary of purported intelligence gains, but also provide a way forward for testing for them in the future.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fetching

Lumbar Curvature: A Novel Evolved Standard of Attractiveness

David Lewis et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper reports independent studies supporting the proposal that human standards of attractiveness reflect the output of psychological adaptations to detect fitness-relevant traits. We tested novel a priori hypotheses based on an adaptive problem uniquely faced by ancestral hominin females: a forward-shifted center of mass during pregnancy. The hominin female spine possesses evolved morphology to deal with this adaptive challenge: wedging in the third-to-last lumbar vertebra. Among ancestral women, vertebral wedging would have minimized the net fitness threats posed by hypolordosis and hyperlordosis, thereby creating selective pressures on men to prefer such women as mates. On this basis, we hypothesized that men possess evolved mate preferences for women with this theoretically optimal angle of lumbar curvature. In Study 1, as hypothesized, men’s attraction toward women increased as women’s lumbar curvature approached this angle. However, vertebral wedging and buttock mass can both influence lumbar curvature. Study 2 thus employed a forced-choice paradigm in which men selected the most attractive woman among models exhibiting the same lumbar curvature, but for different morphological reasons. Men again tended to prefer women exhibiting cues to a degree of vertebral wedging closer to optimum. This included preferring women whose lumbar curvature specifically reflected vertebral wedging rather than buttock mass. These findings reveal novel, theoretically anchored, and previously undiscovered standards of attractiveness.

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Veteran Status and Paid Sex Among American Men: Results from Three National Surveys

Andrew London & Janet Wilmoth
Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Surprisingly little population-based, social scientific research directly examines the association between veteran status and ever paying for sex although there are theoretical reasons to expect that such an association might emerge across the life course. In this article, we examined the relationship between veteran status and ever paying for sex among American men who turned 18 years old between 1922 and 2010 using data from three independent national samples: Wave 1 of the 2005–2006 National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP); the 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS); and pooled data from the 1991, 1993, 1994, and 2010 General Social Survey (GSS). In all three datasets, we found that veterans were significantly more likely than non-veterans to report ever having paid for sex: rates across the three sub-studies ranged from 10.86 to 14.57 % among non-veterans and from 25.27 to 33.92 % among veterans. In multivariate models that controlled for demographic and early-life factors to the extent possible with available data, the odds of ever paying for sex were estimated to be 2.25–3.10 times higher among veterans than among non-veterans. In a supplemental analysis using data from the GSS, we found that longer duration of service was associated with an increased odds of ever paying for sex. While these results do not demonstrate a causal relationship between serving in the military and ever paying for sex, the strength and consistency of the findings provide compelling evidence of an association that is worthy of further theorizing and empirical investigation. There is considerable room for advancing knowledge related to the influence of military service on the initiation, maintenance, frequency, and timing of paid sexual relationships in relation to other life events.

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Sex-linked mating strategies diverge with a manipulation of genital salience

Adam Fetterman, Nicole Kruger & Michael Robinson
Motivation and Emotion, February 2015, Pages 99-103

Abstract:
Trivers (Sexual selection and the descent of man, Aldine-Atherton, Chicago, pp 136–179, 1972) proposed that evolutionary factors should favor divergent mating strategies for males versus females. Such differences may be less pronounced among human beings than other animals and social norms and sex roles are also pertinent influences. The present experiment (N = 133 college undergraduates, 74 female) sought to bypass some of these other influences. Participants were randomly assigned to a condition designed to increase attention to the genital region (a downward pointing arrow) or not (an upward pointing arrow). They then reported on their interest in short-term (e.g., a one-night stand) and long-term (e.g., a potential marital partner) mating opportunities. A theory-consistent three-way interaction occurred such that the genital salience manipulation primed a shorter-term reproductive strategy among men and a longer-term reproductive strategy among women. The results provide unique support for evolution-linked ideas about sex differences in the form of a role for bodily attention.

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Social Context and Sexual Intercourse among First-Year Students at Selective Colleges and Universities in the United States

Jeremy Uecker
Social Science Research, July 2015, Pages 59–71

Abstract:
Most examinations of sexual behavior ignore social context. Using panel data from the National Longitudinal Study of Freshmen, a panel study of 3,924 students at 28 selective colleges and universities, I examine how institutional and peer-group characteristics influence the incidence of sexual intercourse among students during their freshman year. Students who enter college as virgins are more likely to have sexual intercourse on campuses where women comprise a higher proportion of the campus population and on campuses that are more academically rigorous. Students who had sex prior to college are less likely to have sex in college when campuses are more residential. Moreover, having friends who value religion and partying affects the likelihood that a student will have sex irrespective of their prior virginity status. These findings highlight the importance of social context for sexual behavior among college students and in the general population.

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Do orgasms give women feedback about mate choice?

Gordon Gallup et al.
Evolutionary Psychology, November 2014, Pages 958-978

Abstract:
The current study represents a preliminary investigation of the extent to which female orgasm functions to promote good mate choices. Based on a survey of heterosexual female college students in committed relationships, how often women experienced orgasm as a result of sexual intercourse was related to their partner’s family income, his self-confidence, and how attractive he was. Orgasm intensity was also related to how attracted they were to their partners, how many times they had sex per week, and ratings of sexual satisfaction. Those with partners who their friends rated as more attractive also tended to have more intense orgasms. Orgasm frequency was highly correlated (r = .82) with orgasm intensity, and orgasm intensity was a marginally better predictor of sexual satisfaction than orgasm frequency. Sexual satisfaction was related to how physically attracted women were to their partner and the breadth of his shoulders. Women who began having sexual intercourse at earlier ages had more sex partners, experienced more orgasms, and were more sexually satisfied with their partners. We also identified an ensemble of partner psychological traits (motivation, intelligence, focus, and determination) that predicted how often women initiated sexual intercourse. Their partner’s sense of humor not only predicted his self-confidence and family income, but it also predicted women’s propensity to initiate sex, how often they had sex, and it enhanced their orgasm frequency in comparison with other partners.

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The low male voice is a costly signal of phenotypic quality among Bolivian adolescents

Carolyn Hodges-Simeon, Michael Gurven & Steven Gaulin
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The human voice is one of the most conspicuous and dimorphic human secondary sexual characteristics; males’ low fundamental and formant frequencies barely overlap with females’. Researchers often assert that low male voices are costly signals of phenotypic quality; however, no evidence currently exists linking low voices with indicators of quality (i.e., health or physical condition) during the ages where the larynx develops to adult proportions. In the present study, we examine the relationships between condition, testosterone, and vocal parameters in 91 Bolivian peri-pubertal adolescent males. Condition is operationalized as immune function (based on secretory IgA) and energetic reserves (BMI-for-age residuals from Tsimane-specific growth curves, and body fat percentage), and “masculine” vocal parameters is operationalized as having low fundamental frequency, narrow formant position, and low fundamental-frequency variation. We target peri-pubertal individuals to capture variation in vocal parameters during the canalization period for vocal fold and vocal tract growth. Results indicate that males in better energetic condition have higher testosterone levels and lower voices, controlling for age. Further, testosterone mediates the relationship between condition and a lower voice (i.e., lower fundamental and formant frequencies). We suggest that testosterone plays a key mediating role in the causal pathway linking phenotypic condition to a “masculine” voice. Our results provide support for a costly-signal model of low men’s voices.

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Fulfilling Desire: Evidence for negative feedback between men’s testosterone, sociosexual psychology, and sexual partner number

David Puts et al.
Hormones and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across human societies and many nonhuman animals, males have greater interest in uncommitted sex (more unrestricted sociosexuality) than do females. Testosterone shows positive associations with male-typical sociosexual behavior in nonhuman animals. Yet, it remains unclear whether the human sex difference in sociosexual psychology (attitudes and desires) is mediated by testosterone, whether any relationships between testosterone and sociosexuality differ between men and women, and what the nature of these possible relationships might be. In studies to resolve these questions, we examined relationships between salivary testosterone concentrations and sociosexual psychology and behavior in men and women. We measured testosterone in all men in our sample, but only in those women taking oral contraception (OC-using women) in order to reduce the influence of ovulatory cycle variation in ovarian hormone production. We found that OC-using women did not differ from normally-ovulating women in sociosexual psychology or behavior, but that circulating testosterone mediated the sex difference in human sociosexuality and predicted sociosexual psychology in men but not OC-using women. Moreover, when sociosexual psychology was controlled, men’s sociosexual behavior (number of sexual partners) was negatively related to testosterone, suggesting that testosterone drives sociosexual psychology in men and is inhibited when those desires are fulfilled. This more complex relationship between androgen and male sexuality may reconcile some conflicting prior reports.

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Birds of a “bad” feather flock together: The Dark Triad and mate choice

Peter Jonason, Minna Lyons & Alyson Blanchard
Personality and Individual Differences, May 2015, Pages 34–38

Abstract:
Previous research on the Dark Triad traits (i.e., Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism) has focused solely on the role the Dark Triad traits played in mate choice of actors. The current study (N = 336) extends this by manipulating the apparent levels of Dark Triad traits in targets and correlating mate choice in these targets with individual differences in the Dark Triad traits in actors. As expected, both sexes preferred partners low in the Dark Triad traits for long-term mating, while those high in these traits were preferred for one-night stands. However, women high in psychopathy considered the Dark Triad traits in potential male partners more physically attractive and desirable for an one-night stand, as well as a potential husband. Men who were high on psychopathy were likewise attracted to psychopathy in potential mothers. Our findings are discussed from an evolutionary personality paradigm.

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Men’s evaluation of women’s speech in a simulated dating context: Effects of female fertility on vocal pitch and attractiveness

Sethu Karthikeyan & John Locke
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, January 2015, Pages 55-67

Abstract:
In a simulated speed dating context, 36 women were audio recorded as they verbally responded to an attractive male voice heard with its fundamental frequency (f₀) electronically raised or lowered. Women’s responses, recorded during high- and low-fertility phases of their menstrual cycles, were analyzed acoustically and evaluated for their attractiveness by 50 male listeners. As hypothesized, fertility increased ratings of attractiveness. Against our prediction, however, it lowered f₀, and the raised and lowered male voice exerted no effect on women’s f₀ or attractiveness ratings in either fertility phase. Results are discussed in relation to cycle-related changes in women’s mating preferences and behavior, context-induced changes in speech, and subtlety in potentially dual sexual strategies.

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Parental social status and intrasexual competitiveness among adolescents

Abraham Buunk, Gert Stulp & Johan Ormel
Evolutionary Psychology, November 2014, Pages 1022-1037

Abstract:
A study among 1,881 adolescents (52.3% girls) with a mean age of 19.1 years examined the effects of parental social status upon intrasexual competitiveness. Whereas females were consistently more intrasexually competitive the higher the socio-economic status of their parents, males with parents of the lowest socio-economic status tended to be more intrasexually competitive than those with parents of medium socio-economic status, and nearly as intrasexually competitive as those with parents of high socio-economic status. Only among adolescents with parents of low socio-economic status were males more intrasexually competitive than females. Among males and females, higher levels of intrasexual competitiveness were related to a higher family income, to a higher occupational status of the father as well as of the mother, and to a higher educational level of the mother. Only among females were higher levels of intrasexual competitiveness associated with a higher educational level of the father. Males whose fathers had only elementary education had a relatively high level of intrasexual competitiveness. The results are discussed in the context of the multifaceted nature of human status, and the potential relevance of intrasexual competitiveness for individuals of high versus low social status.

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The puzzling attractiveness of male shame

Alec Beall & Jessica Tracy
Evolutionary Psychology, January 2015, Pages 29-47

Abstract:
Two studies examined the mechanisms underlying North American women’s previously documented attraction to men displaying the nonverbal expression of shame (Tracy and Beall, 2011). In Study 1, American women at high-conception risk were found to be less attracted to men displaying shame compared to women at low-conception risk, suggesting that male shame displays indicate poor genetic fitness. In Study 2, Indian women were found to be less attracted to men displaying shame than American women, suggesting that American women’s tendency to find shame-displaying men attractive is likely due to local socio-cultural factors rather than to universal genetically encoded predispositions. Together, findings suggest that the attractiveness of male shame displays, previously documented in several North American samples, is best explained by cultural rather than biological factors.

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Mate-choice copying in single and coupled women: The influence of mate acceptance and mate rejection decisions of other women

Yan Deng & Yong Zheng
Evolutionary Psychology, January 2015, Pages 89-105

Abstract:
Studies of humans and non-human animals indicate that females tend to change the likelihood of choosing a potential mate based on the decisions of other females; this is known as mate-choice copying. In a sample of both single and coupled women, we examined the influence of other women’s (model) mate-choice decisions, including mate acceptance and mate rejection, on participants’ attractiveness ratings of men (target) and willingness of mate selection. We also examined whether different types of relationships between the target men and the model women affected mate-choice copying. We found that both the single and coupled women showed mate-choice copying, but their response patterns differed. The significant effects for single women were dependent on a decrease in attractiveness ratings when they perceived the models’ mate rejection. However, the significant findings for coupled women relied on an increase in attractiveness ratings when they observed the models’ mate acceptance. Furthermore, the relationship status between the target men and the model women affected the magnitude of mate-choice copying effects for the single women. Specifically, they showed less mate-choice copying when the targets and models were in a committed romantic relationship than when in a temporary relationship.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bad data

Concealing campus sexual assault: An empirical examination

Corey Rayburn Yung
Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, February 2015, Pages 1-9

Abstract:
This study tests whether there is substantial undercounting of sexual assault by universities. It compares the sexual assault data submitted by universities while being audited for Clery Act violations with the data from years before and after such audits. If schools report higher rates of sexual assault during times of higher regulatory scrutiny (audits), then that result would support the conclusion that universities are failing to accurately tally incidents of sexual assault during other time periods. The study finds that university reports of sexual assault increase by approximately 44% during the audit period. After the audit is completed, the reported sexual assault rates drop to levels statistically indistinguishable from the preaudit time frame. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that the ordinary practice of universities is to undercount incidents of sexual assault. Only during periods in which schools are audited do they appear to offer a more complete picture of sexual assault levels on campus. Further, the data indicate that the audits have no long-term effect on the reported levels of sexual assault, as those crime rates return to previous levels after the audit is completed. This last finding is supported even in instances when fines are issued for noncompliance. The study tests for a similar result with the tracked crimes of aggravated assault, robbery, and burglary, but reported crimes show no statistically significant differences before, during, or after audits. The results of the study point toward 2 broader conclusions directly relevant to policymaking in this area. First, greater financial and personnel resources should be allocated commensurate with the severity of the problem and not based solely on university reports of sexual assault levels. Second, the frequency of auditing should be increased, and statutorily capped fines should be raised to deter transgressors from continuing to undercount sexual violence. The Campus Accountability and Safety Act, presently before Congress, provides an important step in that direction.

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Does Public Transit Spread Crime? Evidence from Temporary Rail Station Closures

David Phillips & Danielle Sandler
Regional Science and Urban Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We test whether public transit access affects crime using a novel identification strategy based on temporary, maintenance-related closures of stations in the Washington, DC rail transit system. The closures generate plausibly exogenous variation in transit access across space and time, allowing us to test the popular notion that crime can be facilitated by public transit. Closing one station reduces crime by 5% in the vicinity of stations on the same train line. Most of this effect remains after controlling for decreased ridership, indicating that a decrease in the availability of victims does not drive most of our results. We find suggestive evidence that crime falls more at stations that tend to import crime, i.e. stations where perpetrators are less likely to live. We also see larger decreases at stations on the same line when the transit authority closes stations that tend to export crime. These heterogeneous effects suggest that the response of perpetrators to increased transportation costs contributes to the decrease in crime.

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The militarization of local law enforcement: Is race a factor?

Olugbenga Ajilore
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent events have placed a spotlight on the increasing militarization of local law enforcement. While ample anecdotal evidence suggests a link between race and the militarization of police, empirical analysis has yet to be performed. In this study, I find that, conditional on crime rate, the presence of a large African-American population is negatively correlated to police acquisition of mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles. Conversely, greater residential segregation is positively correlated to MRAP procurement. This result highlights the problem with growing segregation, in suburbs as well as urban centres, in the United States.

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Drug Markets, Travel Distance, and Violence: Testing a Typology

Lallen Johnson
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming

Abstract:
The factors complicating our understanding of the drugs and violence nexus include the role of community structure and subculture, and situational features of market exchanges. Reuter and MacCoun contribute to the latter by highlighting a typology of market violence. Using distance as a proxy for social ties, the four-market category typology suggests that the mixing of buyers and sellers from various distances has implications for the amount of violence expected to occur within them. This research performs a partial test of that typology using 5 years of arrest and incident data from the Philadelphia Police Department. Multilevel models reveal that compared with markets with local buyers and sellers, those characterized by lengthier travel patterns have significantly higher counts of violent incidents.

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The Parolee–Parole Officer Relationship as a Mediator of Criminal Justice Outcomes

Brandy Blasko et al.
Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although psychotherapy literature identifies the client–therapist relationship as a key factor contributing to client outcomes, few studies have examined whether relationship quality among corrections populations and supervising officers influences outcomes. This is surprising given that many criminal justice intervention models include quality of the client–practitioner relationship. Parolees enrolled in a six-site randomized clinical trial, where they were assigned to a parole officer–therapist–client collaborative intervention designed to improve relationship quality (n = 253) or supervision as usual (n = 227), were asked to rate relationship quality with their supervising officer. Results showed parolees assigned to the intervention endorsed significantly higher relationship ratings and demonstrated a lower violation rate than those assigned to the control group. Ratings of the parolee–parole officer relationship mediated the relationship between study condition and outcomes; better perceived relationship quality was associated with fewer drug use days and violations during the follow-up period, regardless of the study condition. Findings are discussed as they pertain to supervision relationships.

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A Randomized Clinical Trial of Family Therapy in Juvenile Drug Court

Gayle Dakof et al.
Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The objective of this article is to examine the effectiveness of 2 theoretically different treatments delivered in juvenile drug court — family therapy represented by multidimensional family therapy (MDFT) and group-based treatment represented by adolescent group therapy (AGT) — on offending and substance use. Intent-to-treat sample included 112 youth enrolled in juvenile drug court (primarily male [88%], and Hispanic [59%] or African American [35%]), average age 16.1 years, randomly assigned to either family therapy (n = 55) or group therapy (n = 57). Participants were assessed at baseline and 6, 12, 18 and 24 months following baseline. During the drug court phase, youth in both treatments showed significant reduction in delinquency (average d = .51), externalizing symptoms (average d = 2.32), rearrests (average d = 1.22), and substance use (average d = 4.42). During the 24-month follow-up, family therapy evidenced greater maintenance of treatment gains than group-based treatment for externalizing symptoms (d = 0.39), commission of serious crimes (d = .38), and felony arrests (d = .96). There was no significant difference between the treatments with respect to substance use or misdemeanor arrests. The results suggest that family therapy enhances juvenile drug court outcomes beyond what can be achieved with a nonfamily based treatment, especially with respect to what is arguably the primary objective of juvenile drug courts: reducing criminal behavior and rearrests. More research is needed on the effectiveness of juvenile drug courts generally and on whether treatment type and family involvement influence outcomes.

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A Prospective Examination of Whether Childhood Sexual Abuse Predicts Subsequent Sexual Offending

Cathy Spatz Widom & Christina Massey
JAMA Pediatrics, January 2015, e143357

Objective: To empirically examine the commonly held belief that sexually abused children grow up to become sexual offenders and specialize in sex crimes.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective cohort study and archival records check included cases and control individuals originally from a metropolitan county in the Midwest. Children with substantiated cases of physical and sexual abuse and neglect (aged 0-11 years) were matched with children without such histories on the basis of age, sex, race/ethnicity, and approximate family social class (908 cases and 667 control individuals). Both groups were followed up into adulthood (mean age, 51 years). The court cases were from 1967 to 1971; the follow-up extended to 2013.

Results: Overall, individuals with histories of childhood abuse and neglect were at increased risk for being arrested for a sex crime compared with control individuals (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.17; 95% CI, 1.38-3.40), controlling for age, sex, and race/ethnicity. Specifically, individuals with histories of physical abuse (AOR, 2.06; 95% CI, 1.02-4.16) and neglect (AOR, 2.21; 95% CI, 1.39-3.51) were at significantly increased risk for arrest for sex offenses, whereas for sexual abuse, the AOR (2.13; 95% CI, 0.83-5.47) did not reach significance. Physically abused and neglected males (not females) were at increased risk and physically abused males also had a higher mean number of sex crime arrests compared with control individuals. The results did not provide support for sex crime specialization.

Conclusions and Relevance: The widespread belief that sexually abused children are uniquely at risk to become sex offenders was not supported by prospective empirical evidence. These new findings suggest that early intervention programs should target children with histories of physical abuse and neglect. They also indicate that existing policies and practices specifically directed at future risk for sex offending for sexually abused children may warrant reevaluation.

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The Minimum Legal Drinking Age and Crime

Christopher Carpenter & Carlos Dobkin
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use variation from the Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) to estimate the causal effect of access to alcohol on crime. Using a census of arrests in California and a regression discontinuity design, we find that individuals just over age 21 are 5.9 percent more likely to be arrested than individuals just under 21. This increase is mostly due to assaults, alcohol-related offenses, and nuisance crimes. These results suggest that policies that restrict access to alcohol have the potential to substantially reduce crime.

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Psychosocial and genetic risk markers for longitudinal trends in delinquency: An empirical assessment and practical discussion

Christopher Sullivan & Jamie Newsome
Criminal Justice Studies, Winter 2015, Pages 61-83

Abstract:
The increased use of biosocial perspectives in criminological research has expanded the scope of factors considered in understanding the etiology of adolescent antisocial behavior. At the same time, its practical utility for preventive and remedial intervention has not been examined to the same degree. Using a large, nationally representative sample of youth (N = 2573) and a series of latent growth curve models, this study examines the relative utility of a psychosocial risk composite and genetic indicators (DRD2, DRD4, DAT1, 5-HTTLPR, MAO-A) in predicting the onset and later developmental patterns of adolescent and early adult delinquency and criminal behavior. The results show that the psychosocial risk composite measure has significant effects on the latent growth factors, while the main and interactive effects of the genetic indicators do not. The subsequent discussion considers the practical implications of these empirical findings in the context of extant research and pinpoints some possible future applications of this area of research. It also identifies some parallel cases of translational criminology that may serve as indications of how this research might inform policy and practice going forward.

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Do fewer guns lead to less crime? Evidence from Australia

Benjamin Taylor & Jing Li
International Review of Law and Economics, June 2015, Pages 72–78

Abstract:
The 1996 National Firearms Agreement (NFA) in Australia introduced strict gun control laws and facilitated the buyback of over 650,000 firearms. While several studies have investigated the effect of the NFA on firearm deaths, none has looked at its impact on crimes. In this paper we adopt the difference-in-difference identification approach to examine the impacts of the NFA on crimes. We find that one and two years after the NFA was enacted, there were significant decreases in armed robbery and attempted murder relative to sexual assault, with weaker evidence in relation to unarmed robbery.

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Littering in context(s): Using a quasi-natural experiment to explore geographic influences on antisocial behavior

Russell Weaver
Applied Geography, February 2015, Pages 142–153

Abstract:
Social science literature suggests that neighborhood-based visual cues have substantive effects on individuals' littering behaviors. Experimental research on this topic typically alters the appearance of a selected public location, and then monitors changes in littering due to these tightly controlled esthetic changes. The general finding is that littering occurs more frequently in relatively disorderly settings. The current paper extends this work by testing whether or not the same finding holds in more “real life” situations, wherein the operative visual cues come directly from the environment rather than through experimental manipulation. Specifically, the paper empirically identifies two study sites that serve similar functions in their urban system, but that differ markedly in contextual features. At the first site (#1), visual cues include liquor stores, vacant structures, and a noisy interstate highway. Notable visual cues at site #2 are scenic vistas, well-maintained housing, and greenspaces. When the same quasi-natural littering experiment was conducted at both locations, the littering rate was significantly higher at site #1 compared to site #2 (after controlling for individual-level demographic attributes). This result adds value to the applied geography community, as it confirms that spatially-based attributes do influence individual behaviors in a manner consistent with controlled, comparatively acontextual experimental findings. Additionally, the results implicate policy strategies that might be useful for counteracting antisocial urban behavior.

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Marginal Structural Models: An Application to Incarceration and Marriage During Young Adulthood

Valerio Bacak & Edward Kennedy
Journal of Marriage and Family, February 2015, Pages 112–125

Abstract:
Advanced methods for panel data analysis are commonly used in research on family life and relationships, but the fundamental issue of simultaneous time-dependent confounding and mediation has received little attention. In this article the authors introduce inverse-probability-weighted estimation of marginal structural models, an approach to causal analysis that (unlike conventional regression modeling) appropriately adjusts for confounding variables on the causal pathway linking the treatment with the outcome. They discuss the need for marginal structural models in social science research and describe their estimation in detail. Substantively, the authors contribute to the ongoing debate on the effects of incarceration on marriage by applying a marginal structural model approach to panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (N = 4,781). In line with the increasing evidence on the collateral consequences of contact with the criminal justice system, the authors find that incarceration is associated with reduced chances of entering marriage.

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Wet Laws, Drinking Establishments, and Violent Crime

Mark Anderson, Benjamin Crost & Daniel Rees
University of Washington Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Drawing on county-level data from Kansas for the period 1977-2011, we examine whether plausibly exogenous increases in the number of establishments licensed to sell alcohol by the drink are related to violent crime. During this period, 86 out of 105 counties in Kansas voted to legalize the sale of alcohol to the general public for on-premises consumption. We provide evidence that these counties experienced substantial increases in the total number of establishments with on-premises liquor licenses (e.g., bars and restaurants). Using legalization as an instrument, we show that a 10 percent increase in drinking establishments is associated with a 4 percent increase in violent crime. Reduced-form estimates suggest that legalizing the sale of alcohol to the general public for on-premises consumption is associated with an 11 percent increase in violent crime.

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Wrongful Convictions and the Punishment of Attempts

Murat Mungan
International Review of Law and Economics, June 2015, Pages 79–87

Abstract:
This article presents economic models of law enforcement where the punishment of attempts leads to an increased risk of wrongful convictions. Consideration of these risks weakens the case for punishing attempts. Specifically, attempts ought to be punished less frequently than suggested in previous literature, and even when the punishment of attempts is desirable, they typically ought to be punished less severely than accomplished crimes. Purely deterrence related rationales as well as rationales based on costs associated with wrongful convictions support this conclusion. The presence of wrongful conviction costs also implies that a degree of under-deterrence is optimal and that incomplete attempts ought to typically be punished less severely than complete attempts.

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The Effect of School Starting Age Policy on Crime: Evidence from U.S. Microdata

John McAdams
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does school starting age policy have an impact on the propensity of individuals to commit crime as adults? Using microdata from the U.S. Census, we find that a higher school starting age cutoff leads to lower rates of incarceration among both those directly affected by the laws and those only indirectly affected. However, the reduction in incarceration among those directly affected is smaller in magnitude, implying that the delay itself was harmful with respect to crime outcomes. These findings provide further support for early childhood interventions influencing future criminal activity.

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Organized Crime and Business Subsidies: Where Does The Money Go?

Guglielmo Barone & Gaia Narciso
Journal of Urban Economics, March 2015, Pages 98–110

Abstract:
Business support policies are widespread in advanced countries, to foster employment and productivity. This paper analyses the role of organized crime in the allocation of public subsidies to businesses. We assemble an innovative data set on the Italian mafia at municipality level and test whether mafia-ridden municipalities receive a disproportionally higher amount of funds. We exploit exogenous variation at municipality level to instrument mafia activity and show that the presence of organized crime positively affects the probability of obtaining funding and the amount of public funds. Organized crime is also found to lead to episodes of corruption in the public administration sector. A series of robustness checks confirms the above findings.

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Racial Inequality, Ethnic Inequality, and the System Involvement of At-Risk Youth: Implications for the Racial Invariance and Latino Paradox Theses

Kevin Wright, Jillian Turanovic & Nancy Rodriguez
Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing from the inequality and crime, racial invariance, and Latino paradox literatures, the effects of inequality on youth reoffending are examined. Specifically, hierarchical logistic regression models are estimated to determine: (1) whether racial and ethnic inequality have similar contextual effects on the continued delinquent behavior of at-risk youth and (2) whether these effects are specific to black or Latino/a youth residing in Maricopa County, Arizona (N = 13,138). Findings suggest that racial inequality increases reoffending while ethnic inequality decreases reoffending. Additionally, Latino/a youth are less likely to reoffend in areas characterized by high income and racial inequality. Structural theories of crime should continue to account for the importance of culture and the resilient responses employed by Latinos/as living in criminogenic environments.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Your reputation precedes you

The Impact of Intergroup Contact on Racial Attitudes and Revealed Preferences

Scott Carrell, Mark Hoekstra & James West
NBER Working Paper, February 2015

Abstract:
Understanding whether racial attitudes are malleable is critical for addressing the underlying causes of racial discrimination. We examine whether white males' stated attitudes and behavior toward African Americans change based on the number and type of black peers to whom they are exposed. To overcome selection bias, we exploit data from the U.S. Air Force Academy in which students are randomly assigned to peer groups. Results show significant evidence in favor of the contact hypothesis. White males are significantly affected by both the number (quantity) and aptitude (quality) of the black peers with whom they are exposed. Specifically, white men randomly assigned to higher-aptitude black peers report being more accepting of blacks in general and are more likely to match with a black roommate the following year after reassignment to a new peer group with a different set of black peers. We also find that, ceteris paribus, exposure to more black peers significantly increases the probability of a bi-racial roommate match.

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Political Ideology, Skin Tone, and the Psychology of Candidate Evaluations

Amy Lerman, Katherine McCabe & Meredith Sadin
Public Opinion Quarterly, Spring 2015, Pages 53-90

Abstract:
In this paper, we examine the role of political ideology in shaping black voters’ evaluations of political candidates’ race and skin tone. Our findings challenge simplistic notions of black preference for descriptive representation. Instead, we argue that race matters to how black Americans evaluate candidates for political office, but that it does so in combination with both candidates’ skin tone and voters’ ideology. Specifically, our data from a set of randomized experiments show that black conservative Democrats, relative to their more liberal copartisans, express a stronger preference for black candidates relative to white counterparts and prefer darker-skinned candidates relative to lighter-skinned ones. In exploring this result, we argue that conservative black Democrats, who are liberal economically but more socially conservative, use skin tone as a heuristic to help determine which candidate is most likely to match their party-atypical but race-typical political preferences. Thus, despite being less likely to support affirmative action policies, black conservatives are actually more prone to using race and skin tone heuristics in their evaluations of candidates for political office. These findings are substantively significant. As black voters have become much more ideologically diverse, their preferences with respect to candidate race and skin tone may have greater electoral consequences.

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White Colorism

Lance Hannon
Social Currents, March 2015, Pages 13-21

Abstract:
Perhaps reflecting a desire to emphasize the enduring power of rigidly constructed racial categories, sociology has tended to downplay the importance of within-category variation in skin tone. Similarly, in popular media, “colorism,” or discrimination based on skin lightness, is rarely mentioned. When colorism is discussed, it is almost exclusively framed in terms of intraracial “black-on-black” discrimination. In line with arguments highlighting the centrality of white racism, the present paper contends that it is important for researchers to give unique attention to white colorism. Using data from the 2012 American National Election Study, an example is presented on white interviewers’ perceptions of minority respondent skin tone and intelligence (N = 223). Results from ordinal logistic regression analyses indicate that African American and Latino respondents with the lightest skin are several times more likely to be seen by whites as intelligent compared with those with the darkest skin. The article concludes that a full accounting of white hegemony requires an acknowledgment of both white racism and white colorism.

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Entitativity and intergroup bias: How belonging to a cohesive group allows people to express their prejudices

Daniel Effron & Eric Knowles
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, February 2015, Pages 234-253

Abstract:
We propose that people treat prejudice as more legitimate when it seems rationalistic — that is, linked to a group’s pursuit of collective interests. Groups that appear to be coherent and unified wholes (entitative groups) are most likely to have such interests. We thus predicted that belonging to an entitative group licenses people to express prejudice against outgroups. Support for this idea came from 3 correlational studies and 5 experiments examining racial, national, and religious prejudice. The first 4 studies found that prejudice and discrimination seemed more socially acceptable to third parties when committed by members of highly entitative groups, because people could more easily explain entitative groups’ biases as a defense of collective interests. Moreover, ingroup entitativity only lent legitimacy to outgroup prejudice when an interests-based explanation was plausible — namely, when the outgroup could possibly threaten the ingroup’s interests. The last 4 studies found that people were more willing to express private prejudices when they perceived themselves as belonging to an entitative group. Participants’ perceptions of their own race’s entitativity were associated with a greater tendency to give explicit voice to their implicit prejudice against other races. Furthermore, experimentally raising participants’ perceptions of ingroup entitativity increased explicit expressions of outgroup prejudice, particularly among people most likely to privately harbor such prejudices (i.e., highly identified group members). Together, these findings demonstrate that entitativity can lend a veneer of legitimacy to prejudice and disinhibit its expression. We discuss implications for intergroup relations and shifting national demographics.

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Germs and the out-group: Chronic and situational disease concerns affect intergroup categorization

Anastasia Makhanova, Saul Miller & Jon Maner
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, January 2015, Pages 8-19

Abstract:
Throughout human evolutionary history, members of unfamiliar out-groups are likely to have posed significant disease threats. The current studies assessed whether concerns about disease would bias people toward categorizing social targets as members of an unfamiliar out-group. Using a minimal group paradigm, 2 experiments assessed the extent to which perceivers categorized neutral targets and those displaying heuristic disease cues as members of the in-group versus the out-group. A bias toward categorizing targets with heuristic disease cues (but not neutral targets) as members of the novel out-group was observed among people high in chronic germ aversion and among those for whom disease threat had been experimentally primed. Consistent with theories emphasizing the pernicious dangers potentially posed by out-group pathogens, this bias was strongest if the targets were also a part of a racial out-group. Findings suggest a fundamental link between disease avoidance processes and biases in intergroup cognition.

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The impact of men's magazines on adolescent boys' objectification and courtship beliefs

Monique Ward, Laura Vandenbosch & Steven Eggermont
Journal of Adolescence, February 2015, Pages 49–58

Abstract:
Although much attention concerning the potential impact of sexualized media has focused on girls and women, less is known about how this content effects boys' perceptions of women and courtship. Accordingly, the current three-wave panel study investigated whether exposure to sexualizing magazines predicts adolescent boys' (N = 592) sexually objectifying notions of women and their beliefs about feminine courtship strategies. The results indicated that when boys consumed sexualizing magazines more often, they expressed more gender-stereotypical beliefs about feminine courtship strategies over time. This association was mediated by boys' objectification of women. The possibility of a reciprocal relation whereby beliefs about courtship strategies predict future consumption of sexualizing magazines was also explored but received no support. Discussion focuses on effects of sexualizing media on boys, and supports future research to build on multidisciplinary knowledge.

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The Influence of Sexual Music Videos on Adolescents’ Misogynistic Beliefs: The Role of Video Content, Gender, and Affective Engagement

Johanna van Oosten, Jochen Peter & Patti Valkenburg
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on how sexual music videos affect beliefs related to sexual aggression is rare and has not differentiated between the effects of music videos by male and female artists. Moreover, little is known about the affective processes that underlie the effects of sexual music videos. Using data from a nationally representative three-wave panel survey among 1,204 Dutch adolescents, structural equation modeling showed that viewing sexual music videos by male artists increased the acceptance of female token resistance (i.e., the notion that women say “no” to sex when they actually mean “yes”) among adolescent girls, but not adolescent boys. Furthermore, viewing sexual music videos by male artists influenced girls’ acceptance of token resistance indirectly via affective engagement. The findings suggest that effects of sexual music videos on stereotypical sexual beliefs depend on the specific type of music video and viewers’ gender, and can be partly explained by viewers’ affective engagement.

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Stereotypic vision: How stereotypes disambiguate visual stimuli

Joshua Correll et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, February 2015, Pages 219-233

Abstract:
Three studies examined how participants use race to disambiguate visual stimuli. Participants performed a first-person-shooter task in which Black and White targets appeared holding either a gun or an innocuous object (e.g., a wallet). In Study 1, diffusion analysis (Ratcliff, 1978) showed that participants rapidly acquired information about a gun when it appeared in the hands of a Black target, and about an innocuous object in the hands of a White target. For counterstereotypic pairings (armed Whites, unarmed Blacks), participants acquired information more slowly. In Study 2, eye tracking showed that participants relied on more ambiguous information (measured by visual angle from fovea) when responding to stereotypic targets; for counterstereotypic targets, they achieved greater clarity before responding. In Study 3, participants were briefly exposed to targets (limiting access to visual information) but had unlimited time to respond. In spite of their slow, deliberative responses, they showed racial bias. This pattern is inconsistent with control failure and suggests that stereotypes influenced identification of the object. All 3 studies show that race affects visual processing by supplementing objective information.

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Genetic counselors’ implicit racial attitudes and their relationship to communication

Kendra Schaa et al.
Health Psychology, February 2015, Pages 111-119

Objective: Implicit racial attitudes are thought to shape interpersonal interactions and may contribute to health-care disparities. This study explored the relationship between genetic counselors’ implicit racial attitudes and their communication during simulated genetic counseling sessions.

Method: A nationally representative sample of genetic counselors completed a web-based survey that included the Race Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998; Cooper et al., 2012). A subset of these counselors (n = 67) had participated in an earlier study in which they were video recorded counseling Black, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic White SCs about their prenatal or cancer risks. The counselors’ IAT scores were related to their session communications through robust regression modeling.

Results: Genetic counselors showed a moderate to strong pro-White bias on the Race IAT (M = 0.41, SD = 0.35). Counselors with stronger pro-White bias were rated as displaying lower levels of positive affect (p < .05) and tended to use less emotionally responsive communication (p < .10) when counseling minority SCs. When counseling White SCs, pro-White bias was associated with lower levels of verbal dominance during sessions (p < .10). Stronger pro-White bias was also associated with more positive ratings of counselors’ nonverbal effectiveness by White SCs.

Conclusion: Implicit racial bias is associated with negative markers of communication in minority client sessions and may contribute to racial disparities in processes of care related to genetic services.

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Tweeting about sexism: The well-being benefits of a social media collective action

Mindi Foster
British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although collective action has psychological benefits in non-gendered contexts (Drury et al., 2005, Br. J. Soc. Psychol., 44, 309), the benefits for women taking action against gender discrimination are unclear. This study examined how a popular, yet unexplored potential form of collective action, namely tweeting about sexism, affects women's well-being. Women read about sexism and were randomly assigned to tweet to one of three control groups. Content analyses showed tweets exhibited collective intent and action. Analyses of linguistic markers suggested public tweeters used more cognitive complexity in their language than private tweeters. Profile analyses showed that compared to controls, only public tweeters showed decreasing negative affect and increasing psychological well-being, suggesting tweeting about sexism may serve as a collective action that can enhance women's well-being.

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The effect of resource competition on Blacks’ and Asians’ social distance using a virtual world methodology

John Tawa et al.
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Studies of intergroup social distance have focused primarily on relations between dominant and minority groups, rather than between minority groups. In this study, various dimensions of resource competition relevant to group threat theory were contrasted. Black (n = 39), Asian (n = 53), and White (n = 118) participants developed self-resembling avatars and interacted in a virtual world in which various types of resource competition contexts were simulated. Avatars’ movements were tracked and dynamic social distances between each participant dyad and between each participant and each racial group as a whole (Black, Asian, and White) were computed. Growth curve analyses indicated that in the absence of resource competition, social distance between individuals and groups diminished over time. In contrast, resource competition tended to increase social distance between individuals and groups over time. In particular, merit-based resource competition increased Black participants’ social distance to Asians relative to White participants’ social distance to Asians. Findings are discussed in relation to the context of historical dissention between Blacks and Asians, and implications for the promotion of positive race relations.

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Beliefs about group malleability and out-group attitudes: The mediating role of perceived threat in interactions with out-group members

Claudia Simão & Markus Brauer
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research suggests that inducing fixed (rather than malleable) beliefs about groups leads to more negative attitudes toward out-groups. The present paper identifies the underlying mechanism of this effect. We show that individuals with a fixed belief about groups tend to construe intergroup settings as threatening situations that might reveal shortcomings of their in-group (perceived threat). In the present research, we measured (Study 1) and manipulated (Study 2) participants' lay theories about group malleability. We found that the extent to which individuals had an entity (versus an incremental) group theory influenced the level of threat they felt when interacting with out-group members, and that perceived threat in turn affected their level of ethnocentrism and prejudice. These findings shed new light on the role of lay theories in intergroup attitudes and suggest new ways to reduce prejudice.

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Effects of Past and Present Intergroup Communication on Perceived Fit of an Outgroup Member and Desire for Future Intergroup Contact

Jake Harwood et al.
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine predictors of outgroup partner “fit” (the extent to which an individual is seen as representative of a group), and whether fit determines generalization from a discrete intergroup communication experience to intentions for future contact with the outgroup. In an experiment, 288 undergraduate students imagined a conversation with an older target who was presented either positively or negatively. The positively valenced older adult was seen as being more representative of older people in general (high fit), and this link was stronger for those with more past positive and fewer past negative communication experiences. Fit moderated the effects of imagined interaction valence on intentions for future intergroup contact. A positive older partner perceived as fitting the category “older people” resulted in greater intention to communicate with older people in the future than a negative partner; individuals who saw their partner as atypical showed the reverse pattern — they were less likely to report intentions for future intergenerational contact after a positive than a negative manipulated interaction. The findings demonstrate that negative intergroup communication can at times have positive effects, and positive contact can have negative effects.

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Challenging emotional prejudice by changing self-concept: Priming independent self-construal reduces racial in-group bias in neural responses to other's pain

Chenbo Wang et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Humans show stronger empathy for in-group compared to out-group members' suffering and help in-group members more than out-group members. Moreover, the in-group bias in empathy and parochial altruism tend to be more salient in collectivistic than individualistic cultures. The current work tested the hypothesis that modifying self-construals, which differentiate between collectivistic and individualistic cultural orientations, affects in-group bias in empathy for perceived own-race versus other-race pain. By scanning adults using functional MRI, we found stronger neural activities in the mid-cingulate, left insula and supplementary motor area in response to racial in-group compared to out-group members' pain after participants had been primed with interdependent self-construals. However, the racial in-group bias in neural responses to others' pain in the left SMA, MCC and insula was significantly reduced by priming independent self-construals. Our findings suggest that shifting an individual's self-construal leads to changes of his/her racial in-group bias in neural responses to others' suffering.

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Brain Reward Activity to Masked In-Group Smiling Faces Predicts Friendship Development

Pin-Hao Chen et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined whether neural responses in the ventral striatum (VS) to in-group facial expressions — presented without explicit awareness — could predict friendship patterns in newly arrived individuals from China 6 months later. Individuals who initially showed greater VS activity in response to in-group happy expressions during functional neuroimaging later made considerably more in-group friends, suggesting that VS activity might reflect reward processes that drive in-group approach behaviors.

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Accentuating the Negative: Candidate Race and Campaign Strategy

Yanna Krupnikov & Spencer Piston
Political Communication, Winter 2015, Pages 152-173

Abstract:
This article examines the impact of candidate race and campaign negativity on candidate evaluations and turnout. Unlike previous research, we argue that candidate race and campaign negativity should be considered simultaneously. In order to test this argument, we conduct a survey experiment of a nationally representative sample of White adults and a replication study. While we find, consistent with previous research, that respondents unfavorably evaluate candidates who decide to sponsor a negative ad, there are two important exceptions to this pattern: When the ad sponsor is Black, among White respondents who view Blacks negatively, the penalty for going negative is disproportionately large, while among White respondents who view Blacks positively, the penalty for going negative is disproportionately small. More generally, our findings suggest that the effects of candidate attributes and campaign strategy on voter behavior should not be considered in isolation, as they are mutually reinforcing.

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Does Competition Eliminate Discrimination? Evidence from the Commercial Sex Market in Singapore

Huailu Li, Kevin Lang & Kaiwen Leong
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
The street sex worker market in Geylang, Singapore is highly competitive. Clients can search legally at negligible cost. Sex workers discriminate based on client ethnicity despite an excess supply of sex workers. Workers are more (less) likely to approach and ask a higher (lower) price of Caucasians (Bangladeshis), based on their perceived willingness to pay. They avoid Indians, set a significantly higher price and are less likely to reach an agreement with them, suggesting that Indians face taste discrimination. These findings remain even after controlling for prostitute fixed effects and are consistent with the workers' self-reported attitudes and beliefs.

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When does it hurt? Intergroup permeability moderates the link between discrimination and self-esteem

David Bourguignon et al.
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research shows that personal discrimination and group discrimination have distinct effects on personal self-esteem. Specifically, whereas personal discrimination negatively impacts self-esteem, group discrimination increases it. We suggest that this pattern is dependent on the socio-structural context in which individuals experience discrimination. To test this hypothesis, we manipulate intergroup permeability and examine its impact on the link between personal/group discrimination and personal self-esteem. Results show that a control condition replicates previous research, that is, a positive association between group discrimination and self-esteem and a negative association for personal discrimination. The positive association of group discrimination disappeared in a permeable context and reversed when the context was presented as impermeable. Moreover, the deleterious effect of personal discrimination on self-esteem vanished in impermeable contexts. Results are discussed in light of the literature on stigmatization.

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Sexist Humor in Facebook Profiles: Perceptions of Humor Targeting Women and Men

Megan Strain, Donald Saucier & Amanda Martens
Humor, February 2015, Pages 119–141

Abstract:
Despite advances in women’s equality, and perhaps as a result of it, sexist humor is prevalent in society. Research on this topic has lacked realism in the way the humor is conveyed to participants, and has not examined perceptions of both men and women who use sexist humor. We embedded jokes in printed Facebook profiles to present sexist humor to participants. We manipulated the gender of the individual in the profile (man or woman), and the type of joke presented (anti-men, anti-women, neutral) in a 2×3 between-groups design. We found that both men and women rated anti-women jokes as more sexist than neutral humor, and women also rated anti-men jokes as sexist. We also found that men who displayed anti-women humor were perceived less positively than men displaying anti-men humor, or women displaying either type of humor. These findings suggest that there may be different gender norms in place for joke tellers regarding who is an acceptable target of sexist humor.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Latest and greatest

Knowledge, Human Capital and Economic Development: Evidence from the British Industrial Revolution, 1750-1930

Zorina Khan
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Endogenous growth models raise fundamental questions about the nature of human creativity, and the sorts of resources, skills, and knowledge inputs that shift the frontier of technology and production possibilities. Many argue that the nature of early British industrialization supports the thesis that economic advances depend on specialized scientific training or the acquisition of costly human capital. This paper examines the contributions of different types of knowledge to British industrialization, by assessing the backgrounds, education and inventive activity of the major contributors to technological advances in Britain during the crucial period between 1750 and 1930. The results indicate that scientists, engineers or technicians were not well-represented among the British great inventors until very late in the nineteenth century. Instead, important discoveries and British industrial advances were achieved by individuals who exercised commonplace skills and entrepreneurial abilities to resolve perceived industrial problems. For developing countries today, the implications are that costly investments in specialized human capital resources might be less important than incentives for creativity, flexibility, and the ability to make incremental adjustments that can transform existing technologies into inventions that are appropriate for prevailing domestic conditions.

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Religion, Gambling Attitudes and Corporate Innovation

Binay Adhikari & Anup Agrawal
University of Alabama Working Paper, May 2014

Abstract:
We find that local gambling preferences have economically meaningful effects on corporate innovation. Using a county’s Catholics-to-Protestants ratio as a proxy for local gambling preferences, we show that firms headquartered in areas with greater tolerance for gambling tend to be more innovative, i.e. they spend more on R&D, and obtain more and better quality patents. These results are supported by several robustness checks, tests to mitigate identification concerns, and analyses of several secondary implications. Investment in innovation makes a stock more lottery-like, a feature desired by individuals with a taste for gambling. Gambling preferences of both local investors and managers appear to influence firms’ innovative endeavors and facilitate transforming their industry growth opportunities into firm value.

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Does Cheap Access Encourage Science? Evidence from the WWII Book Replication Program

Barbara Biasi & Petra Moser
Stanford Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Policies that reduce the costs of accessing prior knowledge (which is covered by copyrights) are becoming increasingly prominent, even though systematic empirical evidence on their effects continues to be scarce. This paper examines the effects of the 1942 Book Republication Program (BRP), which allowed US publishers to replicate science books that German publishers had copyrighted in the United States, on the production of new knowledge in mathematics and chemistry. Citations data indicate a dramatic increase in citations to BRP books after 1942 compared with Swiss books in the same fields. This increase is larger for BRP books that experienced a larger decline in price under the program. We also find that effects on citations are larger for disciplines in which knowledge production is less dependent on physical capital: Citations to BRP books increased substantially more for mathematics (which depends almost exclusively on human capital) than chemistry (which is more dependent on physical capital).

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Streams of Thought: Knowledge Flows and Intellectual Cohesion in a Multidisciplinary Era

Craig Rawlings et al.
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
How has the recent shift toward multidisciplinary research affected intellectual cohesion in academia? We answer this question through an examination of collaborations and knowledge flows among researchers. We examine the relevant case of Stanford University during a period of intense investment in multidisciplinary research, using a novel measure of knowledge flows in the short-cycled movement of published references from one researcher to another. We describe intellectual cohesion and its trajectory among 1,007 faculty members between 1997 and 2006, and then examine the social-structural antecedents of dyadic knowledge flows that help explain macro-level patterns. Results show that university collaborations have grown denser and more integrated across faculty members and their institutional divisions. However, this integration is led by “star” researchers and is accompanied by a greater centralization of knowledge flows around these individuals. Results illustrate important shifts in the nature of academic research, and contribute to a dynamic view of intellectual cohesion.

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Do Firms Underinvest in Long-Term Research? Evidence from Cancer Clinical Trials

Eric Budish, Benjamin Roin & Heidi Williams
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate whether private research investments are distorted away from long-term projects. Our theoretical model highlights two potential sources of this distortion: short-termism and the fixed patent term. Our empirical context is cancer research, where clinical trials — and hence, project durations — are shorter for late-stage cancer treatments relative to early-stage treatments or cancer prevention. Using newly constructed data, we document several sources of evidence that together show private research investments are distorted away from long-term projects. The value of life-years at stake appears large. We analyze three potential policy responses: surrogate (nonmortality) clinical-trial endpoints, targeted R&D subsidies, and patent design.

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Public R&D Investments and Private-sector Patenting: Evidence from NIH Funding Rules

Pierre Azoulay et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
We quantify the impact of scientific grant funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on the rate of patent production by pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms. Our paper makes two contributions. First, we use newly constructed bibliometric data to develop a method for flexibly linking specific grant expenditures to private-sector innovations. Second, we take advantage of idiosyncratic rigidities in the rules that govern peer review within NIH to generate exogenous variation in funding across research areas. Our results show that NIH funding spurs the development of private-sector patents: a $10 million boost in NIH funding leads to a net increase of 3.1 patents. A back-of-the-envelope calculation, focusing solely on patents for FDA-approved biopharmaceuticals, suggests that one dollar of NIH funding generates $2 in expected lifetime drug sales (or 70 cents in median lifetime drug sales).

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How Important is US Location for Research in Science?

Shulamit Kahn & Megan MacGarvie
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper asks whether being located outside the US lowers research productivity in a dataset of foreign-born, US-educated scientists. Instrumenting location with visa status that requires return to home countries, we find a large negative relationship between non-US location and research output for countries with low income per capita, but none for countries with high income per capita. This suggests that a scientist exogenously located in a country at the top of the income distribution can expect to be as productive in research as he or she would be in the US.

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Why Do Inventors Sell to Patent Trolls? Experimental Evidence for the Asymmetry Hypothesis

Stephen Haber & Seth Werfel
Stanford Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Why do individual patent holders assign their patents to "trolls" rather than license their technologies directly to manufacturers or assert them through litigation? We explore the hypothesis that an asymmetry in financial resources between individual patent holders and manufacturers prevents individuals from making a credible threat to litigate against infringement. First, individuals may not be able to cover the upfront costs associated with litigation. Second, unsuccessful litigation can result in legal fees so large as to bankrupt the individual. Therefore, a primary reason why individual patent holders sell to PAEs is that they offer insurance and liquidity. We test this hypothesis by experimentally manipulating these financial constraints on a representative sample of inventors and entrepreneurs affiliated with Stanford University and UC Berkeley. We find that in the absence of these constraints, subjects were significantly less likely to sell their patent to a PAE in a hypothetical scenario. Furthermore, treatment effects were significant only for subjects who were hypothesized to be most sensitive to these constraints.

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Age and the Trying Out of New Ideas

Mikko Packalen & Jay Bhattacharya
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Older scientists are often seen as less open to new ideas than younger scientists. We put this assertion to an empirical test. Using a measure of new ideas derived from the text of nearly all biomedical scientific articles published since 1946, we compare the tendency of younger and older researchers to try out new ideas in their work. We find that papers published in biomedicine by younger researchers are more likely to build on new ideas. Collaboration with a more experienced researcher matters as well. Papers with a young first author and a more experienced last author are more likely to try out newer ideas than papers published by other team configurations. Given the crucial role that the trying out of new ideas plays in the advancement of science, our results buttress the importance of funding scientific work by young researchers.

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Public investment in U.S. agricultural R&D and the economic benefits

Matthew Andersen
Food Policy, February 2015, Pages 38–43

Abstract:
A better understanding of the relationship between public investments in agricultural R&D and the productivity enhancing benefits they produce is critical to informing the public funding of agricultural R&D and insuring future increases in agricultural productivity. This paper describes a method of estimating the relationship between research investments, productivity growth, and the resulting economic benefits generated. The data requirements include indexes of multi-factor productivity, investments in R&D, and the value of agricultural output. The real rate of return to public investments in agricultural R&D in the United States is estimated to be 10.5% per annum; however, a reduction in the growth of spending on public agricultural R&D in recent decades raises concerns about productivity growth in coming decades, which is required to insure an adequate supply of food to meet increasing demand.

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Intellectual Property Rights and Access to Innovation: Evidence from TRIPS

Margaret Kyle & Yi Qian
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We examine the effect of pharmaceutical patent protection on the speed of drug launch, price, and quantity in 60 countries from 2000-2013. The World Trade Organization required its member countries to implement a minimum level of patent protection within a specified time period as part of the TRIPS Agreement. However, members retained the right to impose price controls and to issue compulsory licenses under certain conditions. These countervailing policies were intended to reduce the potential static losses that result from reduced competition during the patent term. We take advantage of the fact that at the product level, selection into TRIPS "treatment" is exogenously determined by compliance deadlines that vary across countries. We find that patents have important consequences for access to new drugs: in the absence of a patent, launch is unlikely. That is, even when no patent barrier exists, generic entry may not occur. Conditional on launch, patented drugs have higher prices but higher sales as well. The price premium associated with patents is smaller in poorer countries. Price discrimination across countries has increased for drugs patented post-TRIPS and prices are negatively related to the burden of disease, suggesting that countervailing policies to offset expected price increases may have had the intended effects.

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Innovation Efficiency, Global Diversification, and Firm Value

Wenlian Gao & Julia Chou
Journal of Corporate Finance, February 2015, Pages 278–298

Abstract:
This paper investigates whether multinational firms are less or more efficient in innovation activities than domestic firms. Using patents and citations scaled by R&D expenses and R&D capital as measures of innovation efficiency, we find that multinational firms have lower levels of innovation efficiency than purely domestic firms. This finding has been supported by additional evidence using peer pressure as an exogenous shock to firms’ strategy of going internationalization. We also find that information asymmetry and the low cost of capital could be the major channels through which global diversification impacts innovation efficiency adversely. Our results further suggest that innovation efficiency is more valuable to multinational firms that mainly diversify into developed markets or markets with better patent protection.

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Are Patent Fees Effective at Weeding out Low-quality Patents?

Gaétan de Rassenfosse & Adam Jaffe
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
The paper investigates whether patent fees are an effective mechanism to deter the filing of low-quality patent applications. The study analyzes the effect of the Patent Law Amendment Act of 1982, which resulted in a substantial increase in patenting fees at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, on patent quality. Results from a series of difference-in-differences regressions suggest that the increase in fees led to a weeding out of low-quality patents. About 16–17 per cent of patents in the lowest quality decile were filtered out. The figure reaches 24–30 per cent for patents in the lowest quality quintile. However, the fee elasticity of quality decreased with the size of the patent portfolio held by applicants. The study is relevant to concerns about declines in patent quality and the financial vulnerability of patent offices.

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Localized Knowledge Spillovers: Evidence from the Agglomeration of American R&D Labs and Patent Data

Kristy Buzard et al.
Federal Reserve Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
We employ a unique data set to examine the spatial clustering of private R&D labs, and, using patent citations data, we provide evidence of localized knowledge spillovers within these clusters. Jaffe, Trajtenberg, and Henderson (1993, hereafter JTH) provide an aggregate measure of the importance of knowledge spillovers at either the state or metropolitan area level. However, much information is lost regarding differences in the localization of knowledge spillovers in specific geographic areas. In this article, we show that such differences can be quite substantial. Instead of using fixed spatial boundaries, we develop a new procedure — the multiscale core-cluster approach — for identifying the location and size of specific R&D clusters. This approach allows us to better capture the geographic extent of knowledge spillovers. We examine the evidence for knowledge spillovers within R&D clusters in two regions: the Northeast Corridor and California. In the former, we find that citations are from three to six times more likely to come from the same cluster as earlier patents than in comparable control samples. Our results are even stronger for labs located in California: Citations are roughly 10 to 12 times more likely to come from the same cluster. Our tests reveal evidence of the attenuation of localization effects as distance increases: The localization of knowledge spillovers is strongest at small spatial scales (5 miles or less) and diminishes rapidly with distance. At the smallest spatial scales, our localization statistics are generally much larger than JTH report for the metropolitan areas included in their tests.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A fair shot

Gender Performance in the NCAA Rifle Championships: Where is the Gap?

Nadav Goldschmied & Jason Kowalczyk
Sex Roles, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current study aimed to compare shooting performance between male and female athletes during the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Rifle Championship from the 2007 to 2013 seasons. This sport is distinct from most competitive sports as it requires little physical exertion, so physiological/ biomechanical differences between the genders that generally bring about superior performance by males relative to females may have only minimal effect on shooting performance. NCAA competitions, unlike Olympic shooting events today, allow male and female shooters to compete against each other. Using archival data covering a period of 7 years from both the team and individual tournaments, 555 scores of the best 149 shooters among mostly U.S. collegiate athletes (the best of whom went on to compete in the Olympics) were analyzed using a generalized estimating equation (GEE) model. We found no differences in performance between the genders both during team and individual competitions. The results suggest that Olympic shooting is exercising a “separate and (un)equal” policy which should be reconsidered.

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Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines

Sarah-Jane Leslie et al.
Science, 16 January 2015, 262-265

Abstract:
The gender imbalance in STEM subjects dominates current debates about women’s underrepresentation in academia. However, women are well represented at the Ph.D. level in some sciences and poorly represented in some humanities (e.g., in 2011, 54% of U.S. Ph.D.’s in molecular biology were women versus only 31% in philosophy). We hypothesize that, across the academic spectrum, women are underrepresented in fields whose practitioners believe that raw, innate talent is the main requirement for success, because women are stereotyped as not possessing such talent. This hypothesis extends to African Americans’ underrepresentation as well, as this group is subject to similar stereotypes. Results from a nationwide survey of academics support our hypothesis (termed the field-specific ability beliefs hypothesis) over three competing hypotheses.

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Incentives to Identify: Racial Identity in the Age of Affirmative Action

Francisca Antman & Brian Duncan
University of Colorado Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
It is almost universally assumed that race is an exogenously given trait that is not subject to change. But as race is most often self-reported by individuals who must weigh the costs and benefits of associating with minority groups, we ask whether racial self-identification responds to economic incentives. To address this question, we link racial self-identification with changes in state-level affirmative action policies in higher education, contracting, and employment. Consistent with supporting evidence showing that individuals from underrepresented minority groups face an incentive to identify under affirmative action, we find that once affirmative action is outlawed, they are less likely to identify with their minority group. In contrast, we find that individuals from overrepresented minority groups, who face a disincentive to identify under affirmative action, are more likely to identify with their minority group once affirmative action is banned. To our knowledge, this is the first study to document a causal relationship between racial self-identification and economic incentives in the United States. As such, it has broad implications for understanding the impact of affirmative action policies, estimating broader trends in racial disparities, and the emerging literature on the construction of race and individual identity.

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State liberalism, female supervisors, and the gender wage gap

David Maume & Leah Ruppanner
Social Science Research, March 2015, Pages 126–138

Abstract:
Whereas some are concerned that the gender revolution has stalled, others note the rapid increase in women’s representation in the ranks of management, and the reduction of wage inequality in larger and more active welfare states. Although these latter trends portend an attenuation of gender inequality, their effects on the gender pay gap in the U.S. are understudied due to data limitations, or to the assumption that in the U.S. pay is determined by market forces. In this study we extend research on the determinants of the gender wage gap by examining sex-of-supervisor effects on subordinates’ pay, and to what degree the state’s commitment to equality conditions this relationship. We pooled the 1997 and 2002 National Study of the Changing Workforce surveys to estimate hierarchical models of reporting to a female supervisor and wages, with theoretically important predictors at the individual level, and at the state of residence (an index composed of women’s share of legislators, a measure of the liberal leanings of the state, and the size of the public sector relative to the labor force). We found that state effects on pay were mixed, with pay generally rising with state liberalism on the one hand. On the other hand, working for a female boss significantly reduced wages. We discussed the theoretical implications of our results, as well as the need for further study of the career effects on subordinates as women increasingly enter the ranks of management.

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“You Were the Best Qualified”: Business Beyond the Backlash Against Affirmative Action

Benton Williams
Journal of Policy History, Winter 2015, Pages 61-92

"In this article, I will juxtapose these two simultaneous and seemingly contradictory developments of the 1980s: on one hand, the successful ideological campaign against affirmative action waged by Ronald Reagan and his political appointees and supporters, and on the other, the entrenchment of affirmative practices in the private sector. The seeming contradiction is partially attributable to the federal government’s weakness in affecting private-sector affirmative action — with limited power either to enforce or to dismantle private employers’ hiring practices — and partially attributable to developments within the private sector, especially corporate recognition of the need for 'diverse' workforces and specific human resource management strategies that became prominent in the 1980s."

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Growing the Roots of STEM Majors: Female Math and Science High School Faculty and the Participation of Students in STEM

Martha Cecilia Bottia et al.
Economics of Education Review, April 2015, Pages 14–27

Abstract:
The underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is problematic given the economic and social inequities it fosters and the rising global importance of STEM occupations. This paper examines the role of the demographic composition of high school faculty — specifically the proportion of female high school math and science teachers — on college students’ decisions to declare and/or major in STEM fields. We analyze longitudinal data from students who spent their academic careers in North Carolina public secondary schools and attended North Carolina public universities. Our results suggest that although the proportion of female math and science teachers at a school has no impact on male students, it has a powerful effect on female students’ likelihood of declaring and graduating with a STEM degree, and effects are largest for female students with the highest math skills. The estimates are robust to the inclusion of controls for students’ initial ability.

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Representation in the classroom: The effect of own-race/ethnicity teacher assignment on student achievement

Anna Egalite, Brian Kisida & Marcus Winters
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research suggests that there are academic benefits when students and teachers share the same race/ethnicity because such teachers can serve as role models, mentors, advocates, or cultural translators. In this paper, we obtain estimates of achievement changes as students are assigned to teachers of different races/ethnicities from grades 3 through 10 utilizing a large administrative dataset provided by the Florida Department of Education that follows the universe of test-taking students in Florida public schools from 2001-02 through 2008-09. We find small but significant positive effects when black and white students are assigned to race-congruent teachers in reading (.004 to .005 standard deviations) and for black, white and Asian/Pacific Island students in math (.007 to .041 standard deviations). We also examine the effects of race matching by students' prior performance level, finding that lower-performing black and white students appear to particularly benefit from being assigned to a race-congruent teacher.

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Science and Engineering Majors in the Federal Service: Lessons for Eliminating Sexual and Racial Inequality

Seong Soo Oh & Jungbu Kim
Review of Public Personnel Administration, March 2015, Pages 24-46

Abstract:
This study explores how the gender and racial composition of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) portion of the federal workforce has changed, and how female and minority employees with STEM degrees compare with White majorities and those with degrees in non-STEM fields. Using a series of ordinary least square analyses of a 1% random sample of federal employees for 1983, 1996, and 2009, this study finds that gender and racial pay disparities have decreased over the study period, and that the extant gender pay gap can be explained largely by educational attainment, work experience, and particularly by the changing composition in STEM majors. Despite the decrease in pay disparity, a racial pay gap still remains even after controlling for education level, federal experience, and other major factors.

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The Snowballing Penalty Effect: Multiple Disadvantage and Pay

Carol Woodhams, Ben Lupton & Marc Cowling
British Journal of Management, January 2015, Pages 63–77

Abstract:
This paper makes the case that the current single-axis approach to the diagnosis and remedy of pay discrimination is inadequate in the case of multiple disadvantage. While a good deal is known about pay gaps, particularly those affecting women, less is known about those affecting people in other disadvantaged groups and those in more than one such group. This analysis of multiple years of pay data, n = 513,000, from a large UK-based company shows that people with more than one disadvantaged identity suffer a significantly greater pay penalty than those with a single disadvantage. The data also suggest that penalties associated with multiple disadvantage exponentially increase. In other words, disadvantages seem to interact to the detriment of people at ‘intersections’. The paper considers the implications for policies aimed at reducing pay inequalities. These currently take a single-axis approach and may be misdirected.

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Employment Discrimination Lawsuits and Corporate Stock Prices

Elizabeth Hirsh & Youngjoo Cha
Social Currents, March 2015, Pages 40-57

Abstract:
In this study, we examine the financial impact of employment discrimination lawsuit verdicts and settlements on publicly traded firms subject to lawsuits between 1997 and 2008. Using data on 174 sex and race discrimination lawsuits involving 107 publicly traded companies, we assess the effect of lawsuit verdicts and settlements on changes in defendants’ daily stock returns. Findings indicate that verdicts and settlements have an immediate negative impact on defendants’ stock prices. In addition, the negative effect is more pronounced among cases that involve monetary payouts, cases in which the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a plaintiff and cases that involve sex as opposed to race or national origin discrimination. These results demonstrate the extent to which legal rulings introduce a market penalty for employers and have implications for the study of law, organizations, and market responses to discriminatory behavior.

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Agents of Change or Cogs in the Machine? Re-examining the Influence of Female Managers on the Gender Wage Gap

Sameer Srivastava & Eliot Sherman
University of California Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
Do female managers ameliorate or instead perpetuate the gender wage gap? Although conceptual arguments exist on both sides of this debate, the preponderance of the empirical evidence has favored the view that female managers are agents of change who act in ways that reduce the gender wage gap. Yet the evidence from which this sociological baseline has emerged comes primarily from cross-establishment surveys, which do not provide visibility into the choices of individual managers. Using longitudinal personnel records from a large information services firm in which managers had considerable discretion to influence employee salaries, we estimate multilevel models that indicate no support for the proposition that female managers act to reduce the gender wage gap among employees who report to them. Consistent with the theory of value threat, we instead find conditional support for the cogs-in-the-machine perspective: In the subsample of high performing supervisors and low performing employees, women who switched from a male to a female supervisor had a lower salary in the following year than men who made the same switch.

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New Color Lines: Racial/Ethnic Inequality in Earnings among College-Educated Men

ChangHwan Kim
Sociological Quarterly, Winter 2015, Pages 152–184

Abstract:
Using the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates, this study examined four perspectives on new color lines in America — white–nonwhite, black–nonblack, tri-racial, and blurred — among college-educated white, black, Hispanic, and Asian men. Findings show that the color lines have not been consistently drawn but vary by nativity and migration status. Among the native born, the color line for earnings cuts mainly across white and nonwhite when field of study and Carnegie classification are controlled for in addition to other covariates. On the other hand, among members of the 1.5 generation, who obtained both their high school and highest degrees in the United States, the lines are most salient between black and nonblack. Among first-generation immigrants, who completed all their education in a foreign country, and 1.25-generation immigrants, who obtained their high school diploma in a foreign country but earned their highest degree in the United States, there is a gradation of the color line with whites at the top and blacks at the bottom. Despite these mixed results, blacks fall consistently at the bottom of the racial hierarchy and whites at the top, regardless of nativity and migration status. Implications of the findings are discussed.

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Forecasting the experience of stereotype threat for others

Kathryn Boucher, Robert Rydell & Mary Murphy
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2015, Pages 56–62

Abstract:
Women can underperform when they are concerned about confirming negative gender-based math stereotypes; however, little research has investigated whether female and male perceivers have insight into the experiences of stereotype-threatened women. Female and male participants were randomly assigned to take a math test under stereotype-threatening conditions (experiencers) or predict how a woman taking a math test would feel and perform in the same situation (forecasters). Although female and male forecasters expected female experiencers to have more negative emotional reactions than they actually did, forecasters believed that female experiencers would overcome these emotional reactions and perform at a high level — a much higher level than female experiencers actually performed. This discrepancy for performance expectations was driven by forecasters' beliefs that female experiencers could overcome threat. This research suggests that strengthening the perceived link between stereotype threat's impact on emotional experiences and performance outcomes could foster others' appreciation of its insidious influence.

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Examining Men’s Status Shield and Status Bonus: How Gender Frames the Emotional Labor and Job Satisfaction of Nurses

Marci Cottingham, Rebecca Erickson & James Diefendorff
Sex Roles, forthcoming

Abstract:
(Hochschild 1983) coined the term status shield to theorize men’s status-based protection from the emotional abuses of working in a service job and hence their diminished need to manage emotions as compared to women. Extending this concept, the current study examines how gender operates not merely to shield men from emotional labor on the job but to also shape the relationship between emotional labor and job satisfaction. Using survey data collected from 730 registered nurses (667 women and 63 men) at a large Midwestern hospital system in the U.S., we show that in addition to engaging in less emotional labor than women, men benefit from their emotion management in ways that women do not. Gender moderates the relationship between two dimensions of emotional labor (i.e., surface acting – covering emotion and deep acting) and two outcome measures (i.e., job satisfaction and turnover intention). Results support theoretical claims that men’s privileged status shields them from having to perform emotional labor as frequently as women. Further, when male nurses do perform higher levels of emotional labor, they are shielded from the negative effects of covering emotion and their deep acting correlates with higher job satisfaction — a status bonus — compared to that of their female colleagues. Implications for gender theory, emotional labor, and nursing policy and practice are discussed.

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Status Beliefs and the Spirit of Capitalism: Accounting for Gender Biases in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Sarah Thébaud
University of California Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
In this article, I develop and empirically test the theoretical argument that widely shared cultural beliefs about men’s and women’s abilities in the area of entrepreneurship (i.e. “gender status beliefs”) systematically influence the social interactions during which an entrepreneur, particularly an innovative entrepreneur, seeks support from potential stakeholders for his or her new organization. To evaluate this argument, I conducted three experimental studies in the United Kingdom and the United States in which student participants were asked to evaluate the profiles of two entrepreneurs and to make investment decisions for each. The studies manipulated the gender of the entrepreneur and the innovativeness of the business plan. The main finding is consistent across studies: gender status beliefs disadvantage typical women entrepreneurs vis-à-vis their male counterparts, but innovation in a business model has a stronger and more positive impact on ratings of women’s entrepreneurial ability and overall support for their business ideas than it does for men’s. However, the strength of these patterns varies significantly depending on the societal and industry context of the new venture in question. Findings indicate that gender status beliefs can be understood as an important “demand-side” mechanism contributing to gender inequality in aggregate entrepreneurship rates and a micro-level factor affecting the likelihood that a new and novel organization will emerge and survive.

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On The Origins of Gender Human Capital Gaps: Short and Long Term Consequences of Teachers' Stereotypical Biases

Victor Lavy & Edith Sand
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
In this paper, we estimate the effect of primary school teachers’ gender biases on boys’ and girls’ academic achievements during middle and high school and on the choice of advanced level courses in math and sciences during high school. For identification, we rely on the random assignments of teachers and students to classes in primary schools. Our results suggest that teachers’ biases favoring boys have an asymmetric effect by gender — positive effect on boys’ achievements and negative effect on girls’. Such gender biases also impact students’ enrollment in advanced level math courses in high school — boys positively and girls negatively. These results suggest that teachers’ biased behavior at early stage of schooling have long run implications for occupational choices and earnings at adulthood, because enrollment in advanced courses in math and science in high school is a prerequisite for post-secondary schooling in engineering, computer science and so on. This impact is heterogeneous, being larger for children from families where the father is more educated than the mother and larger on girls from low socioeconomic background.

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Social Identity and Inequality: The Impact of China’s Hukou System

Farzana Afridi, Sherry Xin Li & Yufei Ren
Journal of Public Economics, March 2015, Pages 17–29

Abstract:
We conduct an experimental study to investigate the causal impact of social identity on individuals’ performance under incentives. We focus on China’s household registration (hukou) system, which favors urban residents and discriminates against rural residents in resource allocation. Our results show that making individuals’ hukou identity salient significantly reduces the performance of rural migrant students, relative to their local urban counterparts, on an incentivized cognitive task, and consequently significantly lowers their relative ranking in the earnings distribution under the piece rate regime. However, the impact of hukou identity salience is insignificant in the tournament regime, suggesting that its negative effect on migrant students’ performance may be mitigated when competition is introduced. The results demonstrate the impact of institutionally imposed social identity on individuals’ economic performance, and potentially on inequality.

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Mild test anxiety influences neurocognitive performance among African Americans and European Americans: Identifying interfering and facilitating sources

April Thames et al.
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, January 2015, Pages 105-113

Abstract:
The current study examined ethnic/racial differences in test-related anxiety and its relationship to neurocognitive performance in a community sample of African American (n = 40) and European American (n = 36) adults. The authors hypothesized the following: (a) Test-anxiety related to negative performance evaluation would be associated with lower neurocognitive performance, whereas anxiety unrelated to negative evaluation would be associated with higher neurocognitive performance. (b) African American participants would report higher levels of anxiety about negative performance evaluation than European Americans. (c) European Americans would report higher levels of anxiety unrelated to negative performance evaluation. The first two hypotheses were supported: Ethnic/racial differences in test-taking anxiety emerged such that African Americans reported significantly higher levels of negative performance evaluation, which was associated with lower cognitive performance. The third hypothesis was not supported: African Americans and European Americans reported similar levels of test-anxiety unrelated to negative evaluation.

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Does Society Underestimate Women? Evidence from the Performance of Female Jockeys in Horse Racing

Alasdair Brown & Fuyu Yang
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, March 2015, Pages 106–118

Abstract:
Women are under-represented in many top jobs. We investigate whether biased beliefs about female ability - a form of ‘mistake-based discrimination’ - are partially responsible for this under-representation. We use more than 10 years of data on the performance of female jockeys in U.K. and Irish horse racing - a sport where, uniquely, men and women compete side-by-side - to evaluate the presence of such discrimination. The odds produced by the betting market provide a window onto society's beliefs about the abilities of women in a male-dominated occupation. We find that women are slightly underestimated, winning 0.3% more races than the market predicts. Female jockeys are underestimated to a greater extent in jump racing, where their participation is low. We discuss possible reasons for this association.

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Performance pay, competitiveness, and the gender wage gap: Evidence from the United States

Andrew McGee, Peter McGee & Jessica Pan
Economics Letters, March 2015, Pages 35–38

Abstract:
We show that women in the NLSY79 and NLSY97 are less likely than men to receive competitive compensation. The portion of the gender wage gap explained by compensation schemes is small in the NLSY79 but somewhat larger in the NLSY97.

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No Place Like Home? Familism and Latino/a-White Differences in College Pathways

Sarah Ovink & Demetra Kalogrides
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research has argued that familism, defined as a cultural preference for privileging family goals over individual goals, may discourage some Latino/a youth from applying to and attending college, particularly if they must leave home (Desmond and López Turley, 2009). Using data from the Education Longitudinal Study, we find that Latino/a students and parents indeed have stronger preferences than white students and parents for living at home during college. For students, most differences in preferences for proximate colleges are explained by socioeconomic status, academic achievement and high school/regional differences. Moreover, controlling for socioeconomic background and prior achievement explains most racial/ethnic gaps in college application and attendance among high school graduates, suggesting that familism per se is not a significant deterrent to college enrollment above and beyond these more primary factors. However, results indicate generational differences; cultural factors may contribute to racial/ethnic gaps in parental preferences for children to remain at home.

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Hostile sexism (de)motivates women's social competition intentions: The contradictory role of emotions

Elena Lemonaki, Antony Manstead & Gregory Maio
British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the present research, we examine the ways in which exposure to hostile sexism influences women's competitive collective action intentions. Prior to testing our main model, our first study experimentally induced high versus low levels of security-comfort with the aim of providing experimental evidence for the proposed causal link between these emotions and intentions to engage in social competition. Results showed that lower levels of security-comfort reduced women's readiness to compete socially with men. Experiment 2 investigated the effect of hostile sexism on women's emotional reactions and readiness to engage in social competition. Consistent with the proposed model, results showed that exposure to hostile beliefs about women (1) increased anger-frustration and (2) decreased security-comfort. More specifically, exposure to hostile sexism had a positive indirect effect on social competition intentions through anger-frustration, and a negative indirect effect through security-comfort.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, February 16, 2015

In the know

No Pass No Drive: Education and Allocation of Time

Rashmi Barua & Marian Vidal-Fernandez
Journal of Human Capital, Winter 2014, Pages 399-431

Abstract:
Around one-third of students in the United States, mostly boys and blacks, fail to graduate from high school each year. Since the late 1980s, several states have introduced minimum academic requirements for teenagers to obtain driver's licenses. Using data from the American Community Survey, we find that these so-called No Pass No Drive laws have a positive and significant effect on high school completion and educational attainment among males and blacks, but not among females. Data from Monitoring the Future suggest that students who remained in school increased time allocated to schoolwork at the expense of leisure and work hours.

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The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms

Kirabo Jackson, Rucker Johnson & Claudia Persico
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Since Coleman (1966), many have questioned whether school spending affects student outcomes. The school finance reforms that began in the early 1970s and accelerated in the 1980s caused some of the most dramatic changes in the structure of K-12 education spending in US history. To study the effect of these school-finance-reform-induced changes in school spending on long-run adult outcomes, we link school spending and school finance reform data to detailed, nationally-representative data on children born between 1955 and 1985 and followed through 2011. We use the timing of the passage of court-mandated reforms, and their associated type of funding formula change, as an exogenous shifter of school spending and we compare the adult outcomes of cohorts that were differentially exposed to school finance reforms, depending on place and year of birth. Event-study and instrumental variable models reveal that a 10 percent increase in per-pupil spending each year for all twelve years of public school leads to 0.27 more completed years of education, 7.25 percent higher wages, and a 3.67 percentage-point reduction in the annual incidence of adult poverty; effects are much more pronounced for children from low-income families. Exogenous spending increases were associated with sizable improvements in measured school quality, including reductions in student-to-teacher ratios, increases in teacher salaries, and longer school years.

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Accountability Pressure and Non-Achievement Student Behaviors

John Holbein & Helen Ladd
Duke University Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
In this paper we examine how failing to make adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and the accountability pressure that ensues, affects various non-achievement student behaviors. Using administrative data from North Carolina and leveraging a discontinuity in the determination of school failure, we examine the causal impact of accountability pressure both on student behaviors that are incentivized by NCLB and on those that are not. We find evidence that, as NCLB intends, pressure encourages students to show up at school and to do so on time. Accountability pressure also has the unintended effect, however, of increasing the number of student misbehaviors such as suspensions, fights, and offenses reportable to law enforcement. Further, this negative response is most pronounced among minorities and low performing students, who are the most likely to be left behind.

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The Maine Question: How Is 4-Year College Enrollment Affected by Mandatory College Entrance Exams?

Michael Hurwitz et al.
Educational Evaluation And Policy Analysis, March 2015, Pages 138-159

Abstract:
We use a difference-in-differences analytic approach to estimate postsecondary consequences from Maine's mandate that all public school juniors take the SATR. We find that, overall, the policy increased 4-year college-going rates by 2- to 3-percentage points and that 4-year college-going rates among induced students increased by 10-percentage points.

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Why has for-profit colleges' share of higher education expanded so rapidly? Estimating the responsiveness to labor market changes

Gregory Gilpin, Joseph Saunders & Christiana Stoddard
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over the last two decades, for-profit colleges (FPCs) have substantially increased their share of the higher education market. One potential explanation is that FPC sector may be more responsive to labor market changes than public competitors. Using panel datasets of Associate's degree students, we examine the effects of changes in labor market conditions across various employment fields on enrollment and degree completion in related majors. The results indicate that enrollment and degree completion in the FPC sector is positively related to employment growth and wages in related occupations, while public institutions remain largely unresponsive. Heterogeneity analysis reveals that these relationships are similar across groups of students by gender and ethnicity. Furthermore, the results also indicate that students in public institutions are non-responsive to changes in labor markets associated with requiring an Associate's or Bachelor's degree.

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When Should Children Start School?

Dionissi Aliprantis
Journal of Human Capital, Winter 2014, Pages 481-536

Abstract:
This paper studies causal effects informative for deciding the age when children should start kindergarten. I present evidence from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K) that standard instrumental variable strategies do not identify effects of delaying kindergarten entry for any subpopulation of interest. I propose and implement a new strategy for identifying individual-level education production function parameters. Estimates indicate that there can be decreasing and even negative returns to relative age: For the oldest children in a cohort, educational achievement in third grade decreases as their age relative to that of their classmates increases.

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Cognitive Skills, Personality, and Economic Preferences in Collegiate Success

Stephen Burks et al.
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
We collected multiple measures from 100 students at a small public undergraduate liberal arts college in the Midwestern US and later assessed their academic success. The "proactive" (hard-working, persistent) aspect of the Big Five trait of Conscientiousness and not its "inhibitive" (organized, careful) aspect is a large positive predictor for two graduation outcomes and grade point average (GPA). The Big Five trait of Agreeableness ("pro-sociality") is a large and negative predictor for graduation outcomes. A non-standard cognitive skill measure (a backward-induction game) positively predicts graduation outcomes, in parallel with its success in predicting vocational student job success (Burks et al., 2009). Patient time preferences predict one graduation outcome and GPA.

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Heterogeneous trends in U.S. teacher quality 1980-2010

Jeremiah Richey
Education Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper documents changes in the entire ability distribution of individuals entering the teaching profession using the 1979 and 1997 cohorts of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and a constructed Armed Force Qualifying Test score that allows direct comparison of ability between cohorts. Such direct comparison between cohorts was previously not possible due to a lack of directly comparable measures of ability. I find there are minimal differences in the ability distribution between cohorts. However, this similarity masks vast differences within specific demographics. I then also decompose these changes into cohort-wide shifts and within-cohort shifts of teachers.

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The Impact of State Supreme Court Decisions on Public School Finance

Sarah Hill & Roderick Kiewiet
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, March 2015, Pages 61-92

Abstract:
Beginning with Serrano v. Priest in 1971, equity-based decisions issued by state supreme courts led to a decrease in cross-district inequality in per pupil expenditures. In subsequent years, more state supreme courts overturned existing systems of public school finance for failing to provide adequate education to students living in poor school districts. Adequacy-based decisions have not produced measurable changes in cross-district inequality in expenditures, but have led to higher overall levels of funding for public education. The nationwide increase in per pupil expenditures over the past several decades is, however, largely the product of growth in personal incomes and a decline in the relative size of the cohort of school-age children, and not of court-ordered finance reforms. In California, after Serrano and the most far-reaching equalization reforms implemented anywhere in the country, the association between the wealth of a school district and educational quality remains strong and persistent. If one's concern is the quality of education that students receive and not the amount of money spent on them, the victories that reformers have won in the courts have been hollow victories.

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Demographic changes and education expenditures: A reinterpretation

Haydar Kurban, Ryan Gallagher & Joseph Persky
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several empirical studies have estimated a negative relationship between the share of an area's elderly population and per-pupil education spending. These findings have often been interpreted as evidence that an aging population has hindered the growth in per-pupil expenditures. We offer a reinterpretation of these oft-cited estimates and demonstrate that the population has aged in a way not reflected in these earlier studies' empirical designs. After fully accounting for actual U.S. population trends, we demonstrate that a rise in the elderly share of the population has resulted in a rise in per-pupil education spending, not a decline.

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Motivation and Incentives in Education: Evidence from a Summer Reading Experiment

Jonathan Guryan, James Kim & Kyung Park
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
For whom and under what conditions do incentives work in education? In the context of a summer reading program called Project READS, we test whether responsiveness to incentives is positively or negatively related to the student's baseline level of motivation to read. Elementary school students were mailed books weekly during the summer, mailed books and also offered an incentive to read, or assigned to a control group. We find that students who were more motivated to read at baseline were more responsive to incentives, suggesting that incentives may not effectively target the students whose behavior they are intended to change.

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Genetic differential susceptibility in literacy-delayed children: A randomized controlled trial on emergent literacy in kindergarten

Rachel Plak, Cornelia Kegel & Adriana Bus
Development and Psychopathology, February 2015, Pages 69-79

Abstract:
In this randomized controlled trial, 508 5-year-old kindergarten children participated, of whom 257 were delayed in literacy skills because they belonged to the lowest quartile of a national standard literacy test. We tested the hypothesis that some children are more susceptible to school-entry educational interventions than their peers due to their genetic makeup, and thus whether the dopamine receptor D4 gene moderated intervention effects. Children were randomly assigned to a control condition or one of two interventions involving computer programs tailored to the literacy needs of delayed pupils: Living Letters for alphabetic knowledge and Living Books for text comprehension. Effects of Living Books met the criteria of differential susceptibility. For carriers of the dopamine receptor D4 gene seven-repeat allele (about one-third of the delayed group), the Living Books program was an important addition to the common core curriculum in kindergarten (effect size d = 0.56), whereas the program did not affect the other children (d = -0.09). The same seven-repeat carriers benefited more from Living Letters than did the noncarriers, as reflected in effect sizes of 0.63 and 0.34, respectively, although such differences did not fulfill the statistical criteria for differential susceptibility. The implications of differential susceptibility for education and regarding the crucial question "what works for whom?" are discussed.

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For Better or Worse: Organizational turnaround in New York City schools

Nathan Favero & Amanda Rutherford
Public Management Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The performance of public organizations has become a more salient issue as the popularity of accountability policies has grown. Though organizations are often defined as underperforming, little is known about the effectiveness of various strategies commonly recommended for agency turnaround. This study provides a large-N test of three common categories of turnaround mechanisms - retrenchment, repositioning, and reorganization - in nearly 300 failing New York City schools between 2008 and 2011. Models show that none of the three turnaround strategies appear to be significantly associated with improvements in core organizational performance from an administrative perspective, although repositioning appears to improve client satisfaction.

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Extracurricular associations and college enrollment

Benjamin Gibbs et al.
Social Science Research, March 2015, Pages 367-381

Abstract:
There is consistent evidence that student involvement in extracurricular activities (EAs) is associated with numerous academic benefits, yet understanding how peer associations within EAs might influence this link is not well understood. Using Add Health's comprehensive data on EA participation across 80 schools in the United States, we develop a novel measure of peer associations within EA activities. We find that EA participation with high achieving peers has a nontrivial link to college enrollment, even after considering individual, peer, and school-level factors. This suggests that school policies aimed at encouraging student exposure to high achieving peers in EAs could have an important impact on a student's later educational outcomes.

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What High-Achieving Low-Income Students Know About College

Caroline Hoxby & Sarah Turner
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Previous work (Hoxby and Avery 2014) shows that low-income higher achievers tend not to apply to selective colleges despite being extremely likely to be admitted with financial aid so generous that they would pay less than they do to attend the non-selective schools they usually attend. The Expanding College Opportunities project is a randomized controlled trial that provides such students with individualized information about the college application process and colleges' net prices. In other work (Hoxby and Turner 2013), we show that the informational intervention substantially raises students' probability of applying to, being admitted at, enrolling at, and progressing at selective colleges. In this study, we show that the intervention actually changes students' informedness on key topics such as the cost of college, the availability of the curricula and peers they seek, and the different types of colleges available to them. We highlight topics on which the control students, who experienced no intervention, are seriously misinformed.

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Positioning Charter Schools in Los Angeles: Diversity of Form and Homogeneity of Effects

Douglas Lee Lauen, Bruce Fuller & Luke Dauter
American Journal of Education, February 2015, Pages 213-239

Abstract:
The debate over charter school effectiveness relies largely on neoclassical logic: individual parents or students express demand for a widening array of school types and then experience variable levels of organizational quality. We argue that market-like behavior is nested in segments of local organizational fields with different types of charter school operators seeking market niches to reduce resource uncertainties. We first describe the emergence of three legally defined charter types in the Los Angeles Unified School District between 2002 and 2008. We show how these charter segments became stratified, as gauged by demographic attributes and quite different baseline achievement levels. While this structuration could also plausibly condition uneven achievement effects, we find that, in this initial period of charter expansion, all three types failed to raise achievement, compared with the achievement growth trajectories displayed by peers attending regular public schools.

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A longitudinal analysis of the effects of open enrollment on equity and academic achievement: Evidence from Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saahoon Hong & Wonseok Choi
Children and Youth Services Review, February 2015, Pages 62-70

Abstract:
Open enrollment was expected to provide students in urban school settings with equal opportunity to access schools with abundant educational resources that led to improved student achievement. The One-way ANOVA and Linear Mixed Models used a propensity score matching method were administered to identify to what extent urban students utilized inter-district open enrollment in a Midwestern city and to compare their performances on standardized tests before and after the school transfer had occurred. The results indicated that open enrollment provided black students and students in the child welfare system with equal access to racially and socioeconomically integrated schools. However, these students' academic performance was not significantly enhanced by their open enrollment, except the 3rd grade student achievement in math. The results raised questions about the characteristics of open enrollment. Recommendations for future research are made; study limitations are addressed.

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Knowledge Assessment: Squeezing Information From Multiple-Choice Testing

Raymond Nickerson, Susan Butler & Michael Carlin
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, forthcoming

Abstract:
Knowledge assessment via testing can be viewed from two vantage points: that of the test administrator and that of the test taker. From the administrator's perspective, the objective is to discover what an individual knows about a domain of interest. From that of the test taker, the challenge is to reveal what one knows. In this article we describe a procedure for administering and scoring multiple-choice tests that satisfies both of these objectives and we present experimental data that demonstrate its effectiveness. The method allows test takers to provide specific information about their confidence that each alternative for an item is the correct answer and makes guessing not only unnecessary but detrimental. From this information the administrator can derive measures of both knowledge and confidence, which, we argue, provides better estimates than systems that do not allow measurement of partial knowledge. The use of such measures for purposes of evaluation both of individual test takers' knowledge of a subject of interest and of the effectiveness of instruction with respect to that subject is discussed.

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Can Online Learning Bend the Higher Education Cost Curve?

David Deming et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
We examine whether online learning technologies have led to lower prices in higher education. Using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, we show that online education is concentrated in large for-profit chains and less-selective public institutions. Colleges with a higher share of online students charge lower tuition prices. We present evidence that real and relative prices for full-time undergraduate online education declined from 2006 to 2013. Although the pattern of results suggests some hope that online technology can "bend the cost curve" in higher education, the impact of online learning on education quality remains uncertain.

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Expectations on Track? High School Tracking and Adolescent Educational Expectations

Kristian Bernt Karlson
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the role of adaptation in expectation formation processes by analyzing how educational tracking in high schools affects adolescents' educational expectations. I argue that adolescents view track placement as a signal about their academic abilities and respond to it in terms of modifying their educational expectations. Applying a difference-in-differences approach to the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988, I find that being placed in an advanced or honors class in high school positively affects adolescents' expectations, particularly if placement is consistent across subjects and if placement contradicts tracking experiences in middle school. My findings support the hypothesis that adolescents adapt their educational expectations to ability signals sent by schools.

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For want of a nail: Why unnecessarily long tests may be impeding the progress of Western civilization

Howard Wainer & Richard Feinberg
Significance, February 2015, Pages 16-21

Abstract:
The longer the test, the more reliable it is - up to a point. Howard Wainer and Richard Feinberg expose the costs and hours lost in pursuit of marginal gains and worthless subscores.

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Subjective Performance Evaluation in the Public Sector: Evidence from School Inspections

Iftikhar Hussain
Journal of Human Resources, Winter 2015, Pages 189-221

Abstract:
This paper investigates the effects of being evaluated under a novel subjective assessment system where independent inspectors visit schools at short notice, disclose their findings, and sanction schools rated fail. I demonstrate that a fail inspection rating leads to test score gains for primary school students. I find no evidence to suggest that fail schools are able to inflate test score performance by gaming the system. Relative to purely test-based accountability systems, this finding is striking and suggests that oversight by evaluators who are charged with investigating what goes on inside the classroom may play an important role in mitigating such strategic behavior. There appear to be no effects on test scores following an inspection for schools rated highly by the inspectors. This suggests that any effects from the process of evaluation and feedback are negligible for nonfailing schools, at least in the short term.

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Impact of North Carolina's Early Childhood Initiatives on Special Education Placements in Third Grade

Clara Muschkin, Helen Ladd & Kenneth Dodge
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the community-wide effects of investments in two early childhood initiatives in North Carolina (Smart Start and More at Four) on the likelihood of a student being placed into special education. We take advantage of variation across North Carolina counties and years in the timing of the introduction and funding levels of the two programs to identify their effects on third-grade outcomes. We find that both programs significantly reduce the likelihood of special education placement in the third grade, resulting in considerable cost savings to the state. The effects of the two programs differ across categories of disability, but do not vary significantly across subgroups of children identified by race, ethnicity, and maternal education levels.

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Does it pay to attend a for-profit college? Vertical and horizontal stratification in higher education

Patrick Denice
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite the recent growth of for-profit colleges, scholars are only beginning to understand the labor market consequences of attending these institutions. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, I find that for-profit associate's degree holders encounter lower hourly earnings than associate's degree holders educated at public or private, nonprofit colleges, and earnings that are not significantly different than high school graduates. However, individuals who complete a bachelor's degree by attending college in either the for-profit or nonprofit sectors encounter positive returns. These findings, robust to model selection, suggest that the distinction between for-profit and nonprofit colleges constitutes an important axis in the horizontal dimension of education at the sub-baccalaureate level, and complicate notions of vertical stratification such that higher levels of educational attainment do not necessarily guarantee a wage premium.

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Using Student Test Scores to Measure Principal Performance

Jason Grissom, Demetra Kalogrides & Susanna Loeb
Educational Evaluation And Policy Analysis, March 2015, Pages 3-28

Abstract:
Expansion of the use of student test score data to measure teacher performance has fueled recent policy interest in using those data to measure the effects of school administrators as well. However, little research has considered the capacity of student performance data to uncover principal effects. Filling this gap, this article identifies multiple conceptual approaches for capturing the contributions of principals to student test score growth, develops empirical models to reflect these approaches, examines the properties of these models, and compares the results of the models empirically using data from a large urban school district. The article then assesses the degree to which the estimates from each model are consistent with measures of principal performance that come from sources other than student test scores, such as school district evaluations. The results show that choice of model is substantively important for assessment. While some models identify principal effects as large as 0.18 standard deviations in math and 0.12 in reading, others find effects as low as 0.0.05 (math) or 0.03 (reading) for the same principals. We also find that the most conceptually unappealing models, which over-attribute school effects to principals, align more closely with nontest measures than do approaches that more convincingly separate the effect of the principal from the effects of other school inputs.

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Borrowing Trouble? Student Loans, the Cost of Borrowing, and Implications for the Effectiveness of Need-Based Grant Aid

Benjamin Marx & Lesley Turner
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
We use regression discontinuity and regression kink designs to estimate the impact of need-based grant aid on the borrowing and educational attainment of students enrolled in a large public university system. Pell Grant aid substantially reduces borrowing: among students who would borrow in the absence of a Pell Grant, every dollar of Pell Grant aid crowds-out over $1.80 of loans. A simple model illustrates that our findings are consistent with students facing a fixed cost of incurring debt. The presence of such a fixed cost may lead to the unintended consequence of additional grant aid decreasing some students' attainment. Empirically, we rule out all but modest average impacts of Pell Grant aid on attainment, and we provide suggestive evidence of heterogeneous effects consistent with our fixed-borrowing-cost model. We estimate an augmented Tobit model with random censoring thresholds to allow for heterogeneous fixed borrowing costs, and find that eliminating the fixed cost would increase borrowing by over 250 percent.

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The Effects of Vouchers on School Results: Evidence from Chile's Targeted Voucher Program

Juan Correa, Francisco Parro & Loreto Reyes
Journal of Human Capital, Winter 2014, Pages 351-398

Abstract:
We use data from Chile's targeted voucher program to test the effects of vouchers on school results. Targeted vouchers have delivered extra resources to low-income, vulnerable students since 2008. Moreover, under this scheme, additional resources are contingent on the completion of specific education reforms. Using a difference-in-differences approach and a market-level empirical analysis, we find a positive and significant effect of vouchers on standardized test scores. Additionally, our results highlight the importance of conditioning the delivery of resources to some specific academic goals in markets with institutional characteristics that prevent public schools from behaving as profit-maximizing firms.

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Enhancing inferential abilities in adolescence: New hope for students in poverty

Jacquelyn Gamino et al.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, December 2014

Abstract:
The ability to extrapolate essential gist through the analysis and synthesis of information, prediction of potential outcomes, abstraction of ideas, and integration of relationships with world knowledge is critical for higher-order learning. The present study investigated the efficacy of cognitive training to elicit improvements in gist reasoning and fact recall ability in 556 public middle school students (grades seven and eight), vs. a sample of 357 middle school students who served as a comparison group, to determine if changes in gist reasoning and fact recall were demonstrated without cognitive training. The results showed that, in general, cognitive training increased gist reasoning and fact recall abilities in students from families in poverty as well as students from families living above poverty. However, the magnitude of gains in gist reasoning varied as a function of gender and grade level. Our primary findings were that seventh and eighth grade girls and eighth grade boys showed significant increases in gist reasoning after training regardless of socioeconomic status (SES). There were no significant increases in gist reasoning or fact recall ability for the 357 middle school students who served as a comparison group. We postulate that cognitive training in middle school is efficacious for improving gist reasoning ability and fact recall in students from all socioeconomic levels.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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