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Monday, January 23, 2017

Getting educated

A Big Fish in a Small Pond: Ability Rank and Human Capital Investment

Benjamin Elsner & Ingo Isphording

Journal of Labor Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the impact of a student's ordinal rank in a high school cohort on educational attainment several years later. To identify a causal effect, we compare multiple cohorts within the same school, exploiting idiosyncratic variation in cohort composition. We find that a student's ordinal rank significantly affects educational outcomes later in life. Students with a higher rank are significantly more likely to finish high school and attend college. Exploring potential channels, we find that students with a higher rank have higher expectations about their future career, as well as a higher perceived intelligence.

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Weighting Recent Performance to Improve College and Labor Market Outcomes

George Bulman

Journal of Public Economics, February 2017, Pages 97-108

Abstract:
There is a great deal of policy interest in reducing college dropout rates, increasing graduation rates, and improving labor market outcomes. To this end, individual colleges and state university systems use high school grade point averages and class rankings in an effort to offer admission and scholarships to students who are most likely to achieve long-run success. However, a significant fraction of students exhibit steep positive or negative performance trends during high school. This study shows that academic performance in later grades is given no greater weight in admissions but is the best predictor of college and labor market outcomes, greatly exceeding prior grades and entrance exam scores. Placing greater weight on later grades and extending application deadlines to allow the consideration of 12th grade performance is shown to significantly alter which students are admitted to college and to improve their expected long-run outcomes. Importantly, weighting recent performance does not appear to affect college diversity. Evidence is presented that the predictive power of later grades is driven primarily by students who experience large negative performance trajectories during high school.

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Does Money Matter in the Long Run? Effects of School Spending on Educational Attainment

Joshua Hyman

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper measures the effect of increased primary school spending on students' college enrollment and completion. Using student-level panel administrative data, I exploit variation in the school funding formula imposed by Michigan's 1994 school finance reform, Proposal A. Students exposed to $1,000 (10 percent) more spending were 3 percentage points (7 percent) more likely to enroll in college and 2.3 percentage points (11 percent) more likely to earn a postsecondary degree. The effects were concentrated among districts that were urban and suburban, lower-poverty, and higher-achieving at baseline. Districts targeted the marginal dollar toward schools serving less-poor populations within the district.

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Why Selective Colleges Should Become Less Selective - and Get Better Students

Barry Schwartz

Capitalism & Society, 2016

Abstract:
In the process of admissions to selective colleges and universities, both the institutions and the applicants are trying to maximize. Applicants want to get into the "best" college and colleges want the "best" applicants. This paper argues that in this context, as in many others, maximizing is a fool's errand, partly because no one knows what the best college (or student) is, and partly because differences among applicants are smaller than the error in the instruments used to assess them. Moreover, it is a fool's errand with grave consequences, since it puts enormous pressure on students throughout their pre-college education and induces them to do what will impress rather than what they are actually passionate about. I propose, instead, a system in which all applicants who cross an acceptability threshold are entered into a lottery, with the winners (admitted students) chosen at random from that pool. Such a system might produce better, more engaged college students because they will be freer to pursue their passions and develop their intellects in high school. It might also teach students about the role of luck in many of life's outcomes, making them more empathic when they encounter people who may be just as deserving as they are, but less lucky. Finally, I suggest that maximizing in general may be a fool's errand, and that satisficing may produce better decisions, and greater satisfaction.

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Unions, Salaries, and the Market for Teachers: Evidence from Wisconsin

Barbara Biasi

Stanford Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
A careful study of teachers' labor demand and supply, while extremely relevant for policy, is challenging due to a lack of variation in pay, as teacher salaries are usually set using steps-and-lanes schedules based entirely on seniority and academic credentials. This paper exploits the passage of Act 10 in Wisconsin in 2011, which changed the scope of collective bargaining on teacher salaries, to study the effects of changes in pay on teachers' labor market, and on the composition of the teaching workforce. As a result of this law some districts started to individually negotiate salaries with each teacher, whereas other districts continued setting salaries using seniority-based schedules. I first document an increase in salary dispersion in individual-salaries districts, and show that it is correlated with teacher value-added. Teachers responded to changes in pay by sorting across districts or by exiting: I find a 34 percent increase in the quality of teachers moving from salary-schedule to individual-salary districts, and a 17 percent decrease in the quality of teachers exiting individual-salary districts. Building from this reduced-form evidence, I estimate the parameters of teachers' labor supply and demand using a two-sided choice model. Simulating the model on different salary schemes shows that an increase in the quality component of salaries in one district is associated with an improvement in average quality of the teaching workforce, driven by both in-movements of higher-quality teachers and out-movements and exits of lower-quality teachers. An increase in all districts is, however, associated with a smaller improvement, entirely attributable to exits of lower-quality teachers.

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Risk-sharing and student loan policy: Consequences for students and institutions

Douglas Webber

Economics of Education Review, April 2017, Pages 1-9

Abstract:
This paper examines the potential costs and benefits associated with a risk-sharing policy imposed on all higher education institutions. Under such a program, institutions would be required to pay for a portion of the student loans among which their students defaulted. I examine the predicted institutional responses under a variety of possible penalties and institutional characteristics using a straightforward model of institutional behavior based on monopolistic competition. I also examine the impact of a risk-sharing program on overall economic efficiency by estimating the returns to scale for undergraduate enrollment (as well as other outputs) among each of ten educational sectors. My estimates suggest that a risk-sharing program would induce only a modest tuition increase, with considerable heterogeneity across sectors. Two different penalty structures are analyzed in the context of the model, and alternative institutional responses such as tuition discounting and credit rating students are discussed.

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The Costs of and Net Returns to College Major

Joseph Altonji & Seth Zimmerman

NBER Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
This paper uses administrative student and expenditure data from Florida public universities to describe a) how the cost of producing graduates varies by major, b) how the inclusion of major-specific instructional costs alters the estimated net returns to different fields of study, and c) how major-specific instructional expenditures changed between 1999 and 2013. We find that the cost of producing graduates in the highest cost major (engineering) is roughly double that of producing graduates in low-cost majors, such as business. Cross-major comparisons of per graduate earnings returns net of costs differ from comparisons based on earnings outcomes alone in economically significant ways for a number of fields. Differences between net returns and earnings returns per dollar of instructional spending are even more pronounced. Our analysis of trends in instructional expenditures shows that per credit expenditures for undergraduate classes dropped by 16% in Florida universities between 1999 and 2013. The largest drops occurred in engineering and health, where per credit spending fell by more than 40%. Observed spending changes have little relationship with per credit costs or earnings outcomes.

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Differential Third-Grade Outcomes Associated With Attending Publicly Funded Preschool Programs for Low-Income Latino Children

Arya Ansari et al.

Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined the third-grade outcomes of 11,902 low-income Latino children who experienced public school pre-K or child care via subsidies (center-based care) at age 4 in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Regression and propensity score analyses revealed that children who experienced public school pre-K earned higher scores on standardized assessments of math and reading in third grade and had higher grade point averages than those who attended center-based care 4 years earlier. The sustained associations between public school pre-K (vs. center-based care) and third-grade outcomes were mediated by children's kindergarten entry preacademic and social-behavioral skills, and among English-language learners, English proficiency. Implications for investing in early childhood programs to assist with the school readiness of young Latino children in poverty are discussed.

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Utility-value intervention with parents increases students' STEM preparation and career pursuit

Christopher Rozek et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
During high school, developing competence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is critically important as preparation to pursue STEM careers, yet students in the United States lag behind other countries, ranking 35th in mathematics and 27th in science achievement internationally. Given the importance of STEM careers as drivers of modern economies, this deficiency in preparation for STEM careers threatens the United States' continued economic progress. In the present study, we evaluated the long-term effects of a theory-based intervention designed to help parents convey the importance of mathematics and science courses to their high-school-aged children. A prior report on this intervention showed that it promoted STEM course-taking in high school; in the current follow-up study, we found that the intervention improved mathematics and science standardized test scores on a college preparatory examination (ACT) for adolescents by 12 percentile points. Greater high-school STEM preparation (STEM course-taking and ACT scores) was associated with increased STEM career pursuit (i.e., STEM career interest, the number of college STEM courses, and students' attitudes toward STEM) 5 y after the intervention. These results suggest that the intervention can affect STEM career pursuit indirectly by increasing high-school STEM preparation. This finding underscores the importance of targeting high-school STEM preparation to increase STEM career pursuit. Overall, these findings demonstrate that a motivational intervention with parents can have important effects on STEM preparation in high school, as well as downstream effects on STEM career pursuit 5 y later.

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Cybercycling Effects on Classroom Behavior in Children With Behavioral Health Disorders: An RCT

April Bowling et al.

Pediatrics, forthcoming

Background and objectives: Exercise is linked with improved cognition and behavior in children in clinical and experimental settings. This translational study examined if an aerobic cybercycling intervention integrated into physical education (PE) resulted in improvements in behavioral self-regulation and classroom functioning among children with mental health disabilities attending a therapeutic day school.

Methods: Using a 14-week crossover design, students (N = 103) were randomly assigned by classroom (k = 14) to receive the 7-week aerobic cybercycling PE curriculum during fall 2014 or spring 2015. During the intervention, children used the bikes 2 times per week during 30- to 40-minute PE classes. During the control period, children participated in standard nonaerobic PE. Mixed effects logistic regression was used to assess relationships between intervention exposures and clinical thresholds of behavioral outcomes, accounting for both individual and classroom random effects.

Results: Children experienced 32% to 51% lower odds of poor self-regulation and learning-inhibiting disciplinary time out of class when participating in the intervention; this result is both clinically and statistically significant. Effects were appreciably more pronounced on days that children participated in the aerobic exercise, but carryover effects were also observed.

Conclusions: Aerobic cybercycling PE shows promise for improving self-regulation and classroom functioning among children with complex behavioral health disorders. This school-based exercise intervention may significantly improve child behavioral health without increasing parental burden or health care costs, or disrupting academic schedules.

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The effects of computers on children's social development and school participation: Evidence from a randomized control experiment

Robert Fairlie & Ariel Kalil

Economics of Education Review, April 2017, Pages 10-19

Abstract:
Concerns over the perceived negative impacts of computers on social development among children are prevalent but largely uninformed by plausibly causal evidence. We provide the first test of this hypothesis using a large-scale randomized control experiment in which more than one thousand children attending grades 6-10 across 15 different schools and 5 school districts in California were randomly given computers to use at home. Children in the treatment group are more likely to report having a social networking site, but also report spending more time communicating with their friends and interacting with their friends in person. There is no evidence that computer ownership displaces participation in after-school activities such as sports teams or clubs or reduces school participation and engagement.

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Does early bird catch the worm or a lower GPA? Evidence from a liberal arts college

Timothy Diette & Manu Raghav

Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research in psychology has shown that early morning classes are not conducive to learning because of the peculiar sleep cycles of adolescents and young adults that cause them to be especially groggy in the morning. Our study examines the relationship between the times that classes are offered and the grades that students in these classes earn at a highly selective liberal arts college. Our main findings are that morning classes are harmful for student achievement. Grades are especially lower for classes that were scheduled at 8 am and 9 am. Moreover, while students of both genders are adversely affected by early morning courses, the effects are particularly pronounced for male students. This institution assigns students randomly to different sections of the same course, thus creating a quasi-natural experiment and enabling us to control for unobserved characteristics of students. In addition, we include student and faculty fixed effects.

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Consumer Risk Preferences and Higher Education Enrollment Decisions

Stuart Heckman & Catherine Montalto

Journal of Consumer Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although there are widespread concerns that consumers are making poor choices regarding higher education, the fact that human capital investments are risky is often overlooked in the national conversation. Therefore, this research investigates the effect of risk preferences on higher education enrollment decisions. A sample from the 1997 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97) was analyzed, and the results indicate that consumer risk preferences have a significant effect on the likelihood of enrollment. Specifically, there was a robust, positive relationship between risk tolerance and the likelihood of enrollment even after controlling for time preferences and risk perceptions. Consistent with previous findings, ability, parental education, family net worth and income, and being female were positively associated with the likelihood of enrollment. The results suggest that risk preferences may be an important source of omitted variable bias in previous studies of higher education investment choices.

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Unexpected Arrivals: The Spillover Effects of Mid-Year Entry on Stable Student Achievement in New York City

Emilyn Ruble Whitesell, Leanna Stiefel & Amy Ellen Schwartz

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, December 2016, Pages 692-713

Abstract:
Across the country and in urban areas in particular, many students change schools during the academic year. While much research documents the impact of changing schools on the academic achievement of mobile students themselves, less research explores whether new arrivals have negative spillovers on stable classmates. The lack of research on impacts of mid-year entry is problematic, as poor, minority, and low-achieving students are disproportionately exposed to mid-year entry. In this study, we use a rigorous causal identification strategy and rich longitudinal data on fourth- through eighth-grade students in the New York City (NYC) public schools to estimate the impact of exposure to mid-year entry on the achievement of stable students. We analyze heterogeneous effects of mid-year entrants by origin (arriving from other NYC public schools, from other U.S. school systems, or from other countries), determine the extent to which mid-year entrants' characteristics mediate the impact of mid-year entry, and explore the moderating influence of stable students' characteristics. We find small negative effects of mid-year entry on both math and English language arts test scores in the short run. These impacts are not driven by mid-year entrant characteristics and are somewhat larger for Asian students and those who do not qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Finally, results suggest mid-year entry continues to negatively influence the math performance of stable students beyond the year of exposure. We discuss the relevance of results and conclude with recommendations for future research.

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The impact of computer usage on academic performance: Evidence from a randomized trial at the United States Military Academy

Susan Payne Carter, Kyle Greenberg & Michael Walker

Economics of Education Review, February 2017, Pages 118-132

Abstract:
We present findings from a study that prohibited computer devices in randomly selected classrooms of an introductory economics course at the United States Military Academy. Average final exam scores among students assigned to classrooms that allowed computers were 0.18 standard deviations lower than exam scores of students in classrooms that prohibited computers. Through the use of two separate treatment arms, we uncover evidence that this negative effect occurs in classrooms where laptops and tablets are permitted without restriction and in classrooms where students are only permitted to use tablets that must remain flat on the desk.

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Where Do Students Go when For-Profit Colleges Lose Federal Aid?

Stephanie Cellini, Rajeev Darolia & Lesley Turner

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
Recent federal investigations and new regulations have resulted in restrictions on for-profit institutions' access to federal student aid. We examine the enrollment effects of similar restrictions imposed on over 1,200 for-profit colleges in the 1990s. Using variation in regulations linked to student loan default rates, we estimate the impact of the loss of federal aid on the enrollment of Pell Grant recipients in sanctioned institutions and their local competitors. Enrollment in a sanctioned for-profit college declines by 53 percent in the five years following a sanction. For-profit sanctions result in negative spillovers on unsanctioned competitor for-profit colleges in the same county, which experience modest enrollment declines. These enrollment losses in the for-profit sector are offset by gains in enrollment in local community colleges, suggesting that the loss of federal student aid for poor-performing for-profit colleges does not reduce overall college-going but instead shifts students across higher education sectors. Finally, we provide suggestive evidence that students induced to enroll in community colleges following a for-profit competitor's sanction are less likely to default on their federal loans.

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Classroom-Level Adversity: Associations With Children's Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors Across Elementary School

Tashia Abry et al.

Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Concerns regarding the social-behavioral maladjustment of U.S. youth have spurred efforts among educators and policymakers to identify and remedy educational contexts that exacerbate children's anxiety, depression, aggression, and misconduct. However, investigations of the influence of collective classroom student characteristics on individuals' social-behavioral functioning are few. The present study examined concurrent and longitudinal relations between adversity factors facing the collective classroom student group and levels of children's internalizing and externalizing behaviors across the elementary school years, and whether the pattern of relations differed for girls and boys. First-, third-, and fifth-grade teachers reported on the extent to which adversity-related factors (e.g., home/family life, academic readiness, social readiness, English proficiency, tardiness/absenteeism, student mobility, health) presented a challenge in their classrooms (i.e., classroom-level adversity [CLA]). Mothers reported on their child's internalizing and externalizing behavior at each grade. Autoregressive, lagged panel models controlled for prior levels of internalizing and externalizing behavior, mothers' education, family income-to-needs, and class size. For all children at each grade, CLA was concurrently and positively associated with externalizing behavior. For first-grade girls, but not boys, CLA was also concurrently and positively associated with internalizing behavior. Indirect effects suggested CLA influenced later internalizing and externalizing behavior through its influence on maladjustment in a given year. Discussion highlights possible methods of intervention to reduce CLA or the negative consequences associated with being in a higher-adversity classroom.

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Testing Civics: State-Level Civic Education Requirements and Political Knowledge

David Campbell & Richard Niemi

American Political Science Review, August 2016, Pages 495-511

Abstract:
Do state-level exams in civics have a positive impact on young people's civic knowledge? We hypothesize that civics exams have the biggest effect in states where they are a requirement for high school graduation - the incentive hypothesis. We further hypothesize that civics requirements have the biggest effect on young people with less exposure to information about the U.S. political system at home, specifically Latinos and, especially, immigrants - the compensation hypothesis. We test these hypotheses with the 2006 and 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) civics test administered to high school students, and with a large national survey of 18-24 year-olds. Across the two datasets, we find modest support for the incentive hypothesis and strong support for the compensation hypothesis.

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Can Targeted Information Affect Academic Performance and Borrowing Behavior for College Students? Evidence from Administrative Data

Christiana Stoddard, Carly Urban & Maximilian Schmeiser

Economics of Education Review, February 2017, Pages 95-109

Abstract:
More students than ever borrow to finance post-secondary education. However, students receive little information during the course of their college career that encourages them to recalibrate loan amounts and to consider academic and borrowing decisions jointly. This paper exploits a natural experiment to understand how targeted information can change student behavior. We study a large public university where students above a given debt threshold received letters with bundled information on student loan debt and effectively completing college, while students below the threshold did not. Using a difference-in-difference strategy and administrative data on individual-level academic records and borrowing, the intervention did not change borrowing in the subsequent semester but improved academic outcomes: credits completed and GPAs increased in the subsequent semester and retention rates increased.

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Measuring Instructor Effectiveness in Higher Education

Pieter De Vlieger, Brian Jacob & Kevin Stange

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
Instructors are a chief input into the higher education production process, yet we know very little about their role in promoting student success. This is in contrast to elementary and secondary schooling, for which ample evidence suggests teacher quality is an important determinant of student achievement. Whether colleges could improve student and institutional performance by reallocating instructors or altering personnel policies hinges on the role of instructors in student success. In this paper we measure variation in postsecondary instructor effectiveness and estimate its relationship to overall and course-specific teaching experience. We explore this issue in the context of the University of Phoenix, a large for-profit university that offers both online and in-person courses in a wide array of fields and degree programs. We focus on instructors in the college algebra course that is required for all BA degree program students. We find substantial variation in student performance across instructors both in the current class and subsequent classes. Variation is larger for in-person classes, but is still substantial for online courses. Effectiveness grows modestly with course-specific teaching experience, but is unrelated to pay. Our results suggest that personnel policies for recruiting, developing, motivating, and retaining effective postsecondary instructors may be a key, yet underdeveloped, tool for improving institutional productivity.

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Was That SMART? Institutional Financial Incentives and Field of Study

Jeffrey Denning & Patrick Turley

Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine whether students respond to immediate financial incentives when choosing their college major. From 2006-07 to 2010-11, low-income students in technical or foreign language majors could receive up to $8,000 in SMART Grants. Since income-eligibility was determined using a strict threshold, we determine the causal impact of this grant on student major with a regression discontinuity design. Using administrative data from public universities in Texas, we determine that income-eligible students were 3.2 percentage points more likely than their ineligible peers to major in targeted fields. We measure a larger impact of 10.2 percentage points at Brigham Young University.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Going along with it

The threat premium in economic bargaining

Shawn Geniole, Elliott MacDonell & Cheryl McCormick

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Costly punishment is thought to have evolved because it promotes cooperation and the equitable sharing of resources, but the costs associated with punishment - for both the punisher and the punished - limit the efficiency of this enforcement system in economic interactions. Reputation may also guide decision-making, but this information is not always available (e.g., in interactions involving strangers). Across several bargaining studies, we provide evidence of an efficient and flexible "threat-based" bargaining system that can influence the division of resources without the need for costly punishment and reputational information. We found that participants, without prompting, dynamically adjusted bargaining based on the perceived threat-potential (resource holding power and aggressiveness) of the bargaining partner, giving larger offers to individuals who appeared more threatening. These effects of perceived threat-potential were strongest among participants who were most vulnerable to harm in physical contests (women vs men and weaker men vs stronger men), despite that offers were made on-line and anonymously to photographs of the individuals rather than in face-to-face interactions. These results may reflect an overgeneralization of a real-world threat heuristic that allows low threat individuals to extract resources when possible, while avoiding physical retaliation and harm, and high threat individuals to appropriate larger shares of a resource through static facial cues of threat rather than by physically expressing their propensity to punish. Previously, researchers have highlighted the monetary advantages of attractiveness (the "beauty premium"), but the effects of threat either trumped, devalued, or were equivalent to those of attractiveness.

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Bridging the Parochial Divide: Closure and Brokerage in Mafia Families

Daniel DellaPosta

Cornell University Working Paper, August 2016

Abstract:
Network analysts have long argued that the occupancy of brokerage positions between otherwise weakly connected social groups yields power and access to novel resources. In cultural and organizational contexts where group solidarity and cohesion are heavily valued, however, boundary-spanning brokers may be viewed with suspicion rather than rewarded for their diversity of interests. When social groups demand unfettered commitment and suspect dilettantes, what kinds of actors make the wide-ranging connections necessary to bridge the parochial divide? Addressing this puzzle, I argue that organizational attempts at institutional closure ensure a robust demand for brokerage while simultaneously ensuring that few insiders will emerge to fill this demand, thus empowering excluded actors to form wide-ranging connections that undermine the very boundaries these attempts at closure are designed to protect. Using a unique network dataset featuring 707 members of 24 mid-century American-Italian mafia families, I document a division of network labor in which a small number of brokers - often, surprisingly, ethnic outsiders excluded from formal membership - bridged otherwise disconnected islands of criminal activity to gain power within exclusive mafia circles. While social closure in solidary groups ensures a heavy premium on insider status, it can also paradoxically increase the returns to outsider brokerage, albeit only when taken up in a way that does not violate group norms.

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Not so fast: Fast speech correlates with lower lexical and structural information

Uriel Cohen Priva

Cognition, March 2017, Pages 27-34

Abstract:
Speakers dynamically adjust their speech rate throughout conversations. These adjustments have been linked to cognitive and communicative limitations: for example, speakers speak words that are contextually unexpected (and thus add more information) with slower speech rates. This raises the question whether limitations of this type vary wildly across speakers or are relatively constant. The latter predicts that across speakers (or conversations), speech rate and the amount of information content are inversely correlated: on average, speakers can either provide high information content or speak quickly, but not both. Using two corpus studies replicated across two corpora, I demonstrate that indeed, fast speech correlates with the use of less informative words and syntactic structures. Thus, while there are individual differences in overall information throughput, speakers are more similar in this aspect than differences in speech rate would suggest. The results suggest that information theoretic constraints on production operate at a higher level than was observed before and affect language throughout production, not only after words and structures are chosen.

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Moving on or Digging Deeper: Regulatory Mode and Interpersonal Conflict Resolution

Christine Webb et al.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Conflict resolution, in its most basic sense, requires movement and change between opposing motivational states. Although scholars and practitioners have long acknowledged this point, research has yet to investigate whether individual differences in the motivation for movement from state-to-state influence conflict resolution processes. Regulatory Mode Theory (RMT) describes this fundamental motivation as locomotion. RMT simultaneously describes an orthogonal motivational emphasis on assessment, a tendency for critical evaluation and comparison. We argue that this tendency, in the absence of a stronger motivation for locomotion, can obstruct peoples' propensity to reconcile. Five studies, using diverse measures and methods, found that the predominance of an individual's locomotion over assessment facilitates interpersonal conflict resolution. The first two studies present participants with hypothetical conflict scenarios to examine how chronic (Study 1) and experimentally induced (Study 2) individual differences in locomotion predominance influence the motivation to reconcile. The next two studies investigate this relation by way of participants' own conflict experiences, both through essay recall of previous conflict events (Study 3) and verbal narratives of ongoing conflict issues (Study 4). We then explore this association in the context of real-world conflict discussions between roommates (Study 5). Lastly, we examine results across these studies meta-analytically (Study 6). Overall, locomotion and assessment can inform lay theories of individual variation in the motivation to "move on" or "dig deeper" in conflict situations. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of using RMT to go beyond instrumental approaches to conflict resolution to understand fundamental individual motivations underlying its occurrence.

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The Effect of Early Education on Social Preferences

Alexander Cappelen et al.

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
We present results from the first study to examine the causal impact of early childhood education on social preferences of children. We compare children who, at 3-4 years old, were randomized into either a full-time preschool, a parenting program with incentives, or to a control group. We returned to the same children when they reached 7-8 years old and conducted a series of incentivized experiments to elicit their social preferences. We find that early childhood education has a strong causal impact on social preferences several years after the intervention: attending preschool makes children more egalitarian in their fairness view and the parenting program enhances the importance children place on efficiency relative to fairness. Our findings highlight the importance of taking a broad perspective when designing and evaluating early childhood educational programs, and provide evidence of how differences in institutional exposure may contribute to explaining heterogeneity in social preferences in society.

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Risky Business: When Humor Increases and Decreases Status

Bradford Bitterly, Alison Wood Brooks & Maurice Schweitzer

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across 8 experiments, we demonstrate that humor can influence status, but attempting to use humor is risky. The successful use of humor can increase status in both new and existing relationships, but unsuccessful humor attempts (e.g., inappropriate jokes) can harm status. The relationship between the successful use of humor and status is mediated by perceptions of confidence and competence. The successful use of humor signals confidence and competence, which in turn increases the joke teller's status. Interestingly, telling both appropriate and inappropriate jokes, regardless of the outcome, signals confidence. Although signaling confidence typically increases status and power, telling inappropriate jokes signals low competence and the combined effect of high confidence and low competence harms status. Rather than conceptualizing humor as a frivolous or ancillary behavior, we argue that humor plays a fundamental role in shaping interpersonal perceptions and hierarchies within groups.

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Evidence of Non-Corresponsive Causal Relationships Between Personality Traits and Social Power Over Time

Dustin Wood & P.D. Harms

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, January 2017, Pages 33-45

Abstract:
Although the effects of personality traits on social environments are regularly thought to mirror the effects of social environments on personality traits, the causal dynamics existing between personality traits and social power may represent an important exception. Using a sample of 181 fraternity and sorority members surveyed over a year, we show that agentic traits are more likely to show cross-sectional associations with social power, and may increase from the experience of social power. However, increases in social power over a year are predicted better by communal characteristics. The findings are consistent with the understanding that social power acts as a disinhibitor allowing people to enact their desires with less risk and greater efficacy, but is differentially afforded to individuals perceived as likely to promote the goals of others. We discuss the conditions that may need to exist for personality traits and environments to show corresponsive relationships more generally.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 21, 2017

It doesn't feel right

Hand Matters: Left-Hand Gestures Enhance Metaphor Explanation

Paraskevi Argyriou, Christine Mohr & Sotaro Kita

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests that speech-accompanying gestures influence cognitive processes, but it is not clear whether the gestural benefit is specific to the gesturing hand. Two experiments tested the “(right/left) hand-specificity” hypothesis for self-oriented functions of gestures: gestures with a particular hand enhance cognitive processes involving the hemisphere contralateral to the gesturing hand. Specifically, we tested whether left-hand gestures enhance metaphor explanation, which involves right-hemispheric processing. In Experiment 1, right-handers explained metaphorical phrases (e.g., “to spill the beans,” beans represent pieces of information). Participants kept the one hand (right, left) still while they were allowed to spontaneously gesture (or not) with their other free hand (left, right). Metaphor explanations were better when participants chose to gesture when their left hand was free than when they did not. An analogous effect of gesturing was not found when their right hand was free. In Experiment 2, different right-handers performed the same metaphor explanation task but, unlike Experiment 1, they were encouraged to gesture with their left or right hand or to not gesture at all. Metaphor explanations were better when participants gestured with their left hand than when they did not gesture, but the right hand gesture condition did not significantly differ from the no-gesture condition. Furthermore, we measured participants’ mouth asymmetry during additional verbal tasks to determine individual differences in the degree of right-hemispheric involvement in speech production. The left-over-right-side mouth dominance, indicating stronger right-hemispheric involvement, positively correlated with the left-over-right-hand gestural benefit on metaphor explanation. These converging findings supported the “hand-specificity” hypothesis.

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The Invisibility Cloak Illusion: People (Incorrectly) Believe They Observe Others More Than Others Observe Them

Erica Boothby, Margaret Clark & John Bargh

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Whether at a coffee shop, in a waiting room, or riding the bus, people frequently observe the other people around them. Yet they often fail to realize how much other people engage in the same behavior, and that they, therefore, also are being observed. Because it is logically impossible that people, on average, are the subjects of observation more than they are objects of it, the belief that one watches others more than one is watched is an illusion. Several studies show that people incorrectly believe that they observe others more than other people observe them. We call this mistaken belief the “invisibility cloak illusion.” People believe that they observe others more than do other people and that they are generally observed less than are others (Studies 1-3, 5, 6). The illusion persists both among strangers in the same vicinity (Study 2) and among friends interacting with one another (Study 3), and it cannot be explained away as yet another general better-than-average bias nor is it the result of believing one has more thoughts, in general, than do other people (Studies 2-3). The illusion is supported by a failure to catch others watching oneself (Studies 1b, 4) and it is manifest in the specific contents of people’s thoughts about one another (Studies 5 and 6). Finally, rendering a feature of one’s appearance salient to oneself fails to interrupt the illusion despite increasing one’s belief that others are paying more attention specifically to that salient feature (Study 6).

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A Virtual Out-of-Body Experience Reduces Fear of Death

Pierre Bourdin et al.

PLoS ONE, January 2017

Abstract:
Immersive virtual reality can be used to visually substitute a person’s real body by a life-sized virtual body (VB) that is seen from first person perspective. Using real-time motion capture the VB can be programmed to move synchronously with the real body (visuomotor synchrony), and also virtual objects seen to strike the VB can be felt through corresponding vibrotactile stimulation on the actual body (visuotactile synchrony). This setup typically gives rise to a strong perceptual illusion of ownership over the VB. When the viewpoint is lifted up and out of the VB so that it is seen below this may result in an out-of-body experience (OBE). In a two-factor between-groups experiment with 16 female participants per group we tested how fear of death might be influenced by two different methods for producing an OBE. In an initial embodiment phase where both groups experienced the same multisensory stimuli there was a strong feeling of body ownership. Then the viewpoint was lifted up and behind the VB. In the experimental group once the viewpoint was out of the VB there was no further connection with it (no visuomotor or visuotactile synchrony). In a control condition, although the viewpoint was in the identical place as in the experimental group, visuomotor and visuotactile synchrony continued. While both groups reported high scores on a question about their OBE illusion, the experimental group had a greater feeling of disownership towards the VB below compared to the control group, in line with previous findings. Fear of death in the experimental group was found to be lower than in the control group. This is in line with previous reports that naturally occurring OBEs are often associated with enhanced belief in life after death.

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Stimulation of the Posterior Cortical-Hippocampal Network Enhances Precision of Memory Recollection

Aneesha Nilakantan et al.

Current Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Episodic memory is thought to critically depend on interaction of the hippocampus with distributed brain regions. Specific contributions of distinct networks have been hypothesized, with the hippocampal posterior-medial (HPM) network implicated in the recollection of highly precise contextual and spatial information. Current evidence for HPM specialization is mostly indirect, derived from correlative measures such as neural activity recordings. Here we tested the causal role of the HPM network in recollection using network-targeted noninvasive brain stimulation in humans, which has previously been shown to increase functional connectivity within the HPM network. Effects of multiple-day electromagnetic stimulation were assessed using an object-location memory task that segregated recollection precision from general recollection success. HPM network-targeted stimulation produced lasting (∼24 hr) enhancement of recollection precision, without effects on general success. Canonical neural correlates of recollection were also modulated by stimulation. Late-positive evoked potential amplitude and theta-alpha oscillatory power were reduced, suggesting that stimulation can improve memory through enhanced reactivation of detailed visuospatial information at retrieval. The HPM network was thus specifically implicated in the processing of fine-grained memory detail, supporting functional specialization of hippocampal-cortical networks. These findings demonstrate that brain networks can be causally linked to distinct and specific neurocognitive functions and suggest mechanisms for long-lasting changes in memory due to network-targeted stimulation.

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Emotional brain states carry over and enhance future memory formation

Arielle Tambini et al.

Nature Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Emotional arousal can produce lasting, vivid memories for emotional experiences, but little is known about whether emotion can prospectively enhance memory formation for temporally distant information. One mechanism that may support prospective memory enhancements is the carry-over of emotional brain states that influence subsequent neutral experiences. Here we found that neutral stimuli encountered by human subjects 9-33 min after exposure to emotionally arousing stimuli had greater levels of recollection during delayed memory testing compared to those studied before emotional and after neutral stimulus exposure. Moreover, multiple measures of emotion-related brain activity showed evidence of reinstatement during subsequent periods of neutral stimulus encoding. Both slow neural fluctuations (low-frequency connectivity) and transient, stimulus-evoked activity predictive of trial-by-trial memory formation present during emotional encoding were reinstated during subsequent neutral encoding. These results indicate that neural measures of an emotional experience can persist in time and bias how new, unrelated information is encoded and recollected.

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Photos That Increase Feelings of Learning Promote Positive Evaluations

Brittany Cardwell et al.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research shows that when semantic context makes it feel easier for people to bring related thoughts and images to mind, people can misinterpret that feeling of ease as evidence that information is positive. But research also shows that semantic context does more than help people bring known concepts to mind - it also teaches people new concepts. In five experiments, we show that when photos increase these feelings of learning, they also increase positive evaluations. People saw fictitious wine names and evaluated claims about each. Within subjects, wine names appeared with (or without) photos depicting the noun in the names. We found that photos promoted positive evaluations, did so most when they were most likely to help people learn new words, and even led people to think the wines tasted better. Together, these findings fit with the idea that semantic context promotes positive evaluations in part by teaching people new concepts.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hair trigger

The President and the Parties’ Ideologies: Party Ideas about Foreign Policy Since 1900

Verlan Lewis

Presidential Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Throughout U.S. history, the two major political parties have switched positions many times on a variety of issues, including whether the United States should intervene more or less in foreign affairs. Are these changes simply the product of historical contingency, or are there structural factors at work that can help explain these developments? This article finds that change in party control of the presidency can help explain change in party ideologies with respect to foreign policy. Parties in long-term control of the presidency tend to change their ideology in ways that call for more foreign intervention, while parties in opposition to the presidency tend to change their ideology in ways that call for less foreign intervention.

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Governing kidnap for ransom: Lloyd's as a “private regime”

Anja Shortland

Governance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Kidnap for ransom raises significant governance challenges. In the absence of formal regulation and enforcement, insurers have created an effective private governance regime to facilitate smooth commercial resolutions. Controlling ransoms is paramount: “supernormal” profits for kidnappers create kidnapping booms and undermine the market for insurance. Ransom control requires cooperation, but there are high transactions costs in enforcing a collusive agreement. The Coasean prediction is that a single firm will form to internalize the externalities arising from lax insurance and mismanaged ransom negotiations — or a government must order the market. There is indeed a single source of kidnap insurance: Lloyd's of London. Yet, within the Lloyd's market several insurers compete for business. Lloyd's is a club providing private governance: Its members issue standard contracts, follow the same regime for kidnap resolution, and exchange information to stabilize ransoms. Lloyd's, therefore, combines aspects of Coase's “single firm” and “government” solution to the externalities problem.

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Peoples of the Enemy? Ukrainians and Russians 1995–2011

Louise Grogan

Comparative Economic Studies, December 2016, Pages 606–637

Abstract:
This paper tests three hypotheses about the origins of the conflict which began in 2014 in Ukraine, using the 1995–2011 World Values Surveys. First, a hypothesis that the economic situation of young fighting-age men in Eastern Ukraine worsened relative to that of young men in Russia during 1995–2011 is examined. Second, a hypothesis that the political views of respondents in Eastern Ukraine became more like those of people in neighbouring Russian regions is investigated. Third, a hypothesis that people in Eastern Ukraine became relatively more disillusioned with the quality of their national institutions during this period is tested. None of these three hypotheses is much supported by the data.

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What Terrorist Leaders Want: A Content Analysis of Terrorist Propaganda Videos

Max Abrahms, Nicholas Beauchamp & Joseph Mroszczyk

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, forthcoming

Abstract:
In recent years, a growing body of empirical research suggests that indiscriminate violence against civilian targets tends to carry substantial political risks compared to more selective violence against military targets. To better understand why terrorist groups sometimes attack politically suboptimal targets, scholars are increasingly adopting a principal-agent framework where the leaders of terrorist groups are understood as principals and lower level members as agents. According to this framework, terrorist leaders are thought to behave as essentially rational political actors, whereas lower level members are believed to harbor stronger non-political incentives for harming civilians, often in defiance of leadership preferences. We test this proposition with an original content analysis of terrorist propaganda videos. Consistent with the principal–agent framework, our analysis demonstrates statistically that terrorist leaders tend to favor significantly less indiscriminate violence than their operatives actually commit, providing unprecedented insight into the incentive structure of terrorist leaders relative to the rank-and-file.

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The Power of the Weak: How Informal Power-Sharing Shapes the Work of the UN Security Council

Christoph Mikulaschek

Princeton Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
To what extent is the work of international organizations shaped by their most powerful members? Can minor powers influence the decisions taken at these organizations? This paper presents the argument that great powers engage in power-sharing in order to attain unanimity inside international organizations, which enhances compliance and reduces the cost of implementing their decisions. An analysis of the UN Security Council tests this argument. Challenging the conventional wisdom that minor powers’ influence on the Council is negligible, this paper identifies a series of informal power-sharing practices, which promote consensus and augment minor powers’ influence far beyond what one would expect on the basis of the material capabilities and formal voting power of these states. The study relies on a novel design-based approach, which exploits exogenous variation in Africa’s participation on the Security Council to estimate the influence of African states inside this body. Non-parametric permutation tests and a qualitative case study show that African states have a substantial impact on the Council’s response to civil wars in Africa between 1988 and 2014. During years when a given African region is represented on the Security Council, the UN deploys an average of 920 more peacekeepers and allocates larger peacekeeping budgets to civil-war countries in that region than during years without a member of the Council from that region. This effect of a seat on the Council is particularly pronounced during major crises, when great powers are most eager to attain unanimity through power-sharing, and while minor powers benefit from the informal authority of the Council’s rotating presidency. Informal power-sharing inside international organizations such as the Security Council, motivated by the self-interests of powerful states, enhances the influence of minor powers.

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Collective Trauma From the Lab to the Real World: The Effects of the Holocaust on Contemporary Israeli Political Cognitions

Daphna Canetti et al.

Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research tested whether chronic or contextually activated Holocaust exposure is associated with more extreme political attitudes among Israeli Jews. Study 1 (N = 57), and Study 2 (N = 61) found that Holocaust primes increased support for aggressive policies against a current adversary and decreased support for political compromise via an amplified sense of identification with Zionist ideology. These effects, however, were obtained only under an exclusive but not an inclusive framing of the Holocaust. Study 3 (N = 152) replicated these findings in a field study conducted around Holocaust Remembrance Day and showed that the link between Holocaust exposure, ideological identification, and militancy also occurs in real-life settings. Study 4 (N = 867) demonstrated in a nationally representative survey that Holocaust survivors and their descendants exhibited amplified existential threat responses to contemporary political violence, which were associated with militancy and opposition to peaceful compromises. Together, these studies illustrate the Holocaustization of Israeli political cognitions 70 years later.

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The Politics of Scrutiny in Human Rights Monitoring: Evidence from Structural Topic Models of US State Department Human Rights Reports

Benjamin Bagozzi & Daniel Berliner

Political Science Research and Methods, forthcoming

Abstract:
Human rights monitoring reports play important roles both in the international human rights regime and in productions of human rights data. However, human rights reports are produced by organizations subject to formal and informal pressures that may influence the topics considered salient for attention and scrutiny. We study this potential using structural topic models (STMs), a method used for identifying the latent topical dimensions of texts and assessing the effects of covariates on these dimensions. We apply STMs to a corpus of 6298 State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (1977–2012), identifying a plausible set of topics including killings and disappearances, freedoms of expression and movement, and labor rights, among others. We find that these topics vary markedly both over time and space. We also find that while US domestic politics play no systematic role in shaping topic prevalence, US allies tend to receive more attention to violations of physical integrity rights. These results challenge extant research, and illustrate the usefulness of STM methods for future study of foreign policy documents. Our findings also highlight the importance of topical attention shifts in documents that monitor and evaluate countries.

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The Cart and the Horse Redux: The Timing of Border Settlement and Joint Democracy

Andrew Owsiak & John Vasquez

British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do democratic dyads handle their disputes more peacefully than non-democratic dyads, or have they cleared the most contentious issues (that is, unsettled borders) off their foreign policy agenda before becoming democratic? This study compares the conflicting answers of the democratic peace and the territorial peace and examines the empirical record to see which is more accurate. It finds that almost all contiguous dyads settle their borders before they become joint democracies. Furthermore, the majority of non-contiguous dyad members also settle their borders with all neighboring states before their non-contiguous dyad becomes jointly democratic. Such findings are consistent with the theoretical expectations of the territorial peace, rather than the democratic peace. They also weaken a core argument of the democratic peace, for this analysis finds that one reason democratic dyads may handle their disputes more peacefully than non-democratic dyads is not because of their institutions or norms, but rather because they have dispensed with the disputes most likely to involve the use of military force prior to becoming democratic.

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The Role of Behavioral Responses in the Total Economic Consequences of Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Air Travel Targets

Adam Rose et al.

Risk Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
U.S. airports and airliners are prime terrorist targets. Not only do the facilities and equipment represent high-value assets, but the fear and dread that is spread by such attacks can have tremendous effects on the U.S. economy. This article presents the methodology, data, and estimates of the macroeconomic impacts stemming from behavioral responses to a simulated terrorist attack on a U.S. airport and on a domestic airliner. The analysis is based on risk-perception surveys of these two scenarios. The responses relate to reduced demand for airline travel, shifts to other modes, spending on nontravel items, and savings of potential travel expenditures by U.S. resident passengers considering flying domestic routes. We translate these responses to individual spending categories and feed these direct impact results into a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model of the U.S. economy to ascertain the indirect and total impacts on both the airline industry and the economy as a whole. Overall, the estimated impacts on GDP of both types of attacks exceed $10B. We find that the behavioral economic impacts are almost an order of magnitude higher than the ordinary business interruption impacts for the airliner attack and nearly two orders of magnitude higher for the airport attack. The results are robust to sensitivity tests on the travel behavior of U.S. residents in response to terrorism.

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Are Military Regimes Really Belligerent?

Nam Kyu Kim

Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does military rule make a state more belligerent internationally? Several studies have recently established that military autocracies are more likely than civilian autocracies to deploy and use military force in pursuit of foreign policy objectives. I argue that military regimes are more likely to resort to military force because they are located in more hostile security environments, and not because they are inherently aggressive. First, I show that rule by military institution is more likely to emerge and exist in states facing external territorial threats. Second, by examining the relationship between military autocracies and conflict initiation, I find that once I control for states’ territorial threats, the statistical association between military regimes and conflict initiation disappears. Additionally, more evidence suggests that civilian dictatorships are more conflict-prone than their military counterparts when I account for unobserved dyad heterogeneity. The results are consistent across different measures of international conflict and authoritarian regimes.

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Know Thy Enemy: Education About Terrorism Improves Social Attitudes Toward Terrorists

Jordan Theriault, Peter Krause & Liane Young

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Hatred of terrorists is an obstacle to the implementation of effective counterterrorism policies — it invites indiscriminate retaliation, whereas many of the greatest successes in counterterrorism have come from understanding terrorists’ personal and political motivations. Drawing from psychological research, traditional prejudice reduction strategies are generally not well suited to the task of reducing hatred of terrorists. Instead, in 2 studies, we explored education’s potential ability to reduce extreme negative attitudes toward terrorists. Study 1 compared students in a college course on terrorism (treatment) with wait-listed students, measuring prosocial attitudes toward a hypothetical terrorist. Initially, all students reported extremely negative attitudes; however, at the end of the semester, treatment students’ attitudes were significantly improved. Study 2 replicated the effect within a sample of treatment and control classes drawn from universities across the United States. The present work was part of an ongoing research project, focusing on foreign policy and the perceived threat of terrorism; thus classes did not explicitly aim to reduce prejudice, making the effect of treatment somewhat surprising. One possibility is that learning about terrorists “crowds out” the initial pejorative associations — that is, the label terrorism may ultimately call more information to mind, diluting its initial negative associative links. Alternatively, students may learn to challenge how the label terrorist is being applied. In either case, learning about terrorism can decrease the extreme negative reactions it evokes, which is desirable if one wishes to implement effective counterterrorism policies.

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Arms versus Democratic Allies

Matthew Digiuseppe & Paul Poast

British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In theory, states can gain security by acquiring internal arms or external allies. Yet the empirical literature offers mixed findings: some studies find arms and allies to be substitutes, while others find them to be complements. This article contends that these conflicting findings are due to scholars failing to consider how regime type influences the choice between arms and allies. Since democracies are highly credible allies, states that form alliances with democracies can confidently reduce their internal arms. This is not the case when states form alliances with non-democracies. This study evaluates the argument using data on military expenditures and defense pacts from 1950 to 2001. Taking steps to account for the potentially endogenous relationship between arms and allies, it finds that democratic alliances are associated with lower levels of military spending.

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Peacekeeping, Compliance with International Norms, and Transactional Sex in Monrovia, Liberia

Bernd Beber et al.

International Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
United Nations policy forbids its peacekeepers and other personnel from engaging in transactional sex (the exchange of money, favors, or gifts for sex), but we find the behavior to be very common in our survey of Liberian women. Using satellite imagery and GPS locators, we randomly selected 1,381 households and randomly sampled 475 women between the ages of eighteen and thirty. Using an iPod in private to preserve the anonymity of their responses, these women answered sensitive questions about their sexual histories. More than half of them had engaged in transactional sex, a large majority of them (more than 75 percent) with UN personnel. We estimate that each additional battalion of UN peacekeepers caused a significant increase in a woman's probability of engaging in her first transactional sex. Our findings raise the concern that the private actions of UN personnel in the field may set back the UN's broader gender-equality and economic development goals, and raise broader questions about compliance with international norms.

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Is there a Qatari–Al-Jazeera nexus? Coverage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup controversy by Al-Jazeera versus Sky News, CNNI and ITV

Tal Samuel-Azran et al.

Global Media and Communication, December 2016, Pages 195-209

Abstract:
The Al-Jazeera–Qatari nexus is debatable and hard to examine because Qatari affairs are rarely in the news. Recently, Qatar made global headlines in connection with an alleged bribe to win the 2022 World Cup bid, which creates a rare opportunity to examine Al-Jazeera’s coverage of this as well as other Qatari affairs. We compared coverage by Al-Jazeera Arabic, Al-Jazeera English and Al-Jazeera America with coverage of international networks (Sky News, CNN International and ITV). The analysis reveals that while Al-Jazeera English and America maintained high journalistic norms when reporting on the 2022 World Cup controversy, Al-Jazeera Arabic almost never criticizes its Qatari sponsor. The study highlights the dramatic differences between Al-Jazeera’s English and Arabic versions, looking at journalistic values in general and Qatari affairs coverage in particular.

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On the Road to Belgrade: Yugoslavia, Third World Neutrals, and the Evolution of Global Non-Alignment, 1954–1961

Aleksandar Životić & Jovan Čavoški

Journal of Cold War Studies, Fall 2016, Pages 79-97

Abstract:
Attempts by Yugoslav leaders to redirect their country's foreign policy orientation and redefine their priorities came to the fore in 1954. Yugoslav officials explicitly affirmed a long-term foreign policy goal of strengthening and developing relations with Arab countries, India, and other Asian and African countries that had no ties to existing political blocs. The idea of creating a wide movement deprived of hierarchical relations and centers of decision-making was much more acceptable for the Third World. The movement promoted peace and stability, opposed tensions and conflicts, and sought mutual cooperation and development. All these efforts demanded putting together a much broader international coalition than in just Asia and Africa. This is how the Non-Aligned Movement arose and took a more definitive shape after the Cairo Conference in 1964 and the Lusaka Summit in 1970.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dulling the pain

Supply-Side Drug Policy in the Presence of Substitutes: Evidence from the Introduction of Abuse-Deterrent Opioids

Abby Alpert, David Powell & Rosalie Liccardo Pacula

NBER Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
Overdose deaths from prescription opioid pain relievers nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2010, making this the worst drug overdose epidemic in U.S. history. In response, numerous supply-side interventions have aimed to limit access to opioids. However, these supply disruptions may have the unintended consequence of increasing the use of substitute drugs, including heroin. We study the consequences of one of the largest supply disruptions to date to abusable opioids – the introduction of an abuse-deterrent version of OxyContin in 2010. Our analysis exploits across state variation in exposure to the OxyContin reformulation. Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), we show that states with higher pre-2010 rates of OxyContin misuse experienced larger reductions in OxyContin misuse, permitting us to isolate consumer substitution responses. We estimate large differential increases in heroin deaths immediately after reformulation in states with the highest initial rates of OxyContin misuse. We find less evidence of differential reductions in overall opioid-related deaths, potentially due to substitution towards other opioids, including more harmful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Our results imply that a substantial share of the dramatic increase in heroin deaths since 2010 can be attributed to the reformulation of OxyContin.

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A Block-Level Analysis of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Crime in the City of Los Angeles

Christopher Contreras

Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The liberalization of marijuana laws may have implications for neighborhood crime insofar as the distribution of marijuana through a dispensary system may provide additional opportunities for criminal behavior to take place. This project fills an important gap in the scant literature on medical marijuana dispensaries and neighborhood crime rates by integrating perspectives from environmental criminology and social organization theories in investigating the dispensary-crime nexus through interaction models and flexibly assessing dispensaries’ relationship to crime at different spatial scales. This study found the placement of a medical marijuana dispensary in the previous year to be associated with crime rate change, in both the block and the surrounding area, over and above predictor variables drawn from social organization theory. And, this study’s interaction models suggest that marijuana dispensaries may increase crime rates on socially organized blocks, with such blocks potentially experiencing a slight perturbation in their ecological continuity from a dispensary’s establishment.

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Contact High: The External Effects of Retail Marijuana Establishments on House Prices

James Neil Conklin, Moussa Diop & Herman Li

University of Georgia Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
Using publicly available data from the city of Denver and the state of Colorado, this study examines the effects of retail conversions (conversions from medical marijuana to retail marijuana stores) on neighboring house values in Denver, Colorado for the years 2013 and 2014. The time period was chosen to reflect a time before (2013) and after (2014) retail marijuana sales became legal in Colorado. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we compare houses that were in close proximity to a conversion (within 0.1 miles) to those that are farther away from a conversion. We find that after the law went into effect, single family residences close to a retail conversion increased in value by approximately 9% relative to houses that are located slightly farther away. We perform a battery of robustness checks and falsification tests to provide additional support for this finding. To our knowledge this is the first study to examine at a micro-level the highly localized effect of retail marijuana establishments on house prices and hope that it can contribute to the debate on retail marijuana laws.

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“Zombie” Outbreak Caused by the Synthetic Cannabinoid AMB-FUBINACA in New York

Axel Adams et al.

New England Journal of Medicine, forthcoming

Background: New psychoactive substances constitute a growing and dynamic class of abused drugs in the United States. On July 12, 2016, a synthetic cannabinoid caused mass intoxication of 33 persons in one New York City neighborhood, in an event described in the popular press as a “zombie” outbreak because of the appearance of the intoxicated persons.

Methods: We obtained and tested serum, whole blood, and urine samples from 8 patients among the 18 who were transported to local hospitals; we also tested a sample of the herbal “incense” product “AK-47 24 Karat Gold,” which was implicated in the outbreak. Samples were analyzed by means of liquid chromatography–quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry.

Results: The synthetic cannabinoid methyl 2-(1-(4-fluorobenzyl)-1H-indazole-3-carboxamido)-3-methylbutanoate (AMB-FUBINACA, also known as MMB-FUBINACA or FUB-AMB) was identified in AK-47 24 Karat Gold at a mean (±SD) concentration of 16.0±3.9 mg per gram. The de-esterified acid metabolite was found in the serum or whole blood of all eight patients, with concentrations ranging from 77 to 636 ng per milliliter.

Conclusions: The potency of the synthetic cannabinoid identified in these analyses is consistent with strong depressant effects that account for the “zombielike” behavior reported in this mass intoxication. AMB-FUBINACA is an example of the emerging class of “ultrapotent” synthetic cannabinoids and poses a public health concern. Collaboration among clinical laboratory staff, health professionals, and law enforcement agencies facilitated the timely identification of the compound and allowed health authorities to take appropriate action.

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US Traffic Fatalities, 1985–2014, and Their Relationship to Medical Marijuana Laws

Julian Santaella-Tenorio et al.

American Journal of Public Health, February 2017, Pages 336-342

Methods: Using data from the 1985–2014 Fatality Analysis Reporting System, we examined the association between MMLs and traffic fatalities in multilevel regression models while controlling for contemporaneous secular trends. We examined this association separately for each state enacting MMLs. We also evaluated the association between marijuana dispensaries and traffic fatalities.

Results: On average, MML states had lower traffic fatality rates than non-MML states. Medical marijuana laws were associated with immediate reductions in traffic fatalities in those aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 44 years, and with additional yearly gradual reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years. However, state-specific results showed that only 7 states experienced post-MML reductions. Dispensaries were also associated with traffic fatality reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years.

Conclusions: Both MMLs and dispensaries were associated with reductions in traffic fatalities, especially among those aged 25 to 44 years. State-specific analysis showed heterogeneity of the MML–traffic fatalities association, suggesting moderation by other local factors. These findings could influence policy decisions on the enactment or repealing of MMLs and how they are implemented.

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Identifying Sibling Influence on Teenage Substance Use

Joseph Altonji, Sarah Cattan & Iain Ware

Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming

Abstract:
We assess the extent to which the large sibling correlations in substance use are causal. Our primary approach is based on a joint dynamic model of the behavior of older and younger siblings that allows for family specific effects, individual specific heterogeneity, and state dependence. We use the model to simulate the dynamic response of substance use to the behavior of the older sibling. Overall, we find that substance use is affected by the example of older siblings, but only a small fraction of the sibling correlation is causal.

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Demographic trends of binge alcohol use and alcohol use disorders among older adults in the United States, 2005–2014

Benjamin Han et al.

Drug and Alcohol Dependence, January 2017, Pages 198–207

Methods: We examined alcohol use among adults age ≥50 in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2005 to 2014. Trends of self-reported past-month binge alcohol use and AUD were estimated. Logistic regression models were used to examine correlates of binge alcohol use and AUD.

Results: The prevalence of both past-month binge alcohol use and AUD increased significantly among adults age ≥50 from 2005/2006 to 2013/2014, with a relative increase of 19.2% for binge drinking (linear trend p < 0.001) and a 23.3% relative increase for AUD (linear trend p = 0.035). While males had a higher prevalence of binge alcohol use and AUD compared to females, there were significant increases in both among females. In adjusted models of aggregated data, being Hispanic, male, and a smoker or illicit drug user were associated with binge alcohol use, while being male, a smoker, an illicit drug user, or reporting past-year depression or mental health treatment were associated with AUD.

Conclusions: Alcohol use among older adults is increasing in the US, including past-month binge alcohol use and AUD with increasing trends among females. Providers and policymakers need to be aware of these changes to address the increase of older adults with unhealthy drinking.

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Does Alcohol Contribute to College Men’s Sexual Assault Perpetration? Between-and Within-Person Effects Over Five Semesters

Maria Testa & Michael Cleveland

Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, January 2017, Pages 5-13

Objective: The current longitudinal study was designed to consider the time-varying effects of men’s heavy episodic drinking (HED) and drinking setting attendance on college sexual assault perpetration.

Method: Freshman men (N = 992) were recruited in their first semester and completed online measures at the end of their first five semesters. Using multilevel models, we examined whether men with higher frequency HED (or party or bar attendance) were more likely to perpetrate sexual assault (between-person, Level 2 effect) and whether sexual assault perpetration was more likely in semesters in which HED (or party or bar attendance) was higher than each individual’s average (within-person, Level 1 effect).

Results: The between-person effect of HED on sexual assault was not significant after accounting for the between-person effects of antisocial behavior, impersonal sex orientation, and low self-control. The within-person effect of HED on sexual assault perpetration was not significant. However, models substituting frequency of party attendance or bar attendance revealed both between- and within-person effects. The odds of sexual assault were increased for men with higher bar and party attendance than the sample as a whole, and in semesters in which party or bar attendance was higher than their own average. Supplemental analyses suggested that these drinking setting effects were explained by hookups, with sexual assault perpetration more likely in semesters in which the number of hookups exceeded one’s own average.

Conclusions: Findings point toward the importance of drinking contexts, rather than drinking per se, as predictors of college men’s sexual assault perpetration.

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Adolescent cannabis use, change in neurocognitive function, and high-school graduation: A longitudinal study from early adolescence to young adulthood

Natalie Castellanos-Ryan et al.

Development and Psychopathology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The main objective of this prospective longitudinal study was to investigate bidirectional associations between adolescent cannabis use (CU) and neurocognitive performance in a community sample of 294 young men from ages 13 to 20 years. The results showed that in early adolescence, and prior to initiation to CU, poor short-term and working memory, but high verbal IQ, were associated with earlier age of onset of CU. In turn, age of CU onset and CU frequency across adolescence were associated with (a) specific neurocognitive decline in verbal IQ and executive function tasks tapping trial and error learning and reward processing by early adulthood and (b) lower rates of high-school graduation. The association between CU onset and change in neurocognitive function, however, was found to be accounted for by CU frequency. Whereas the link between CU frequency across adolescence and change in verbal IQ was explained (mediated) by high school graduation, the link between CU frequency and tasks tapping trial and error learning were independent from high school graduation, concurrent cannabis and other substance use, adolescent alcohol use, and externalizing behaviors. Findings support prevention efforts aimed at delaying onset and reducing frequency of CU.

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Alcohol-Impaired Driving and Perceived Risks of Legal Consequences

Frank Sloan, Sabrina McCutchan & Lindsey Eldred

Alcoholism, forthcoming

Methods: Using survey data collected from individual drivers, police, and defense attorneys specializing in DWI in 8 U.S. cities, we investigated whether risk perceptions about legal consequences for alcohol-impaired driving, both the risk of being stopped if driving while alcohol-impaired and receiving specific penalties following a DWI, deter alcohol-impaired driving. First, we analyzed how different drivers' risk perceptions about being pulled over and facing criminal sanctions related to their self-reported alcohol-impaired driving in the year following the interview at which risk perceptions were elicited. Second, using data from an experimental module in which individual's risk perceptions were randomly updated by the interview, we analyzed how each driver's beliefs about his or her own future alcohol-impaired driving responded to randomly generated increases in the apprehension probability and sanction magnitude.

Results: Higher probabilities as estimated by the individuals of being pulled over corresponded to less alcohol-impaired driving in both analyses. Conversely, there was no statistical relationship between perceptions of criminal sanctions for DWI and alcohol-impaired driving with 1 exception — a small significant negative relationship between duration of jail time following a DWI conviction and alcohol-impaired driving.

Conclusions: Perceptions regarding the threat of being apprehended for alcohol-impaired driving were related to actual self-reported driving, while perceived sanctions following a DWI conviction for DWI generally were unrelated to either actual self-reported alcohol-impaired driving or the person's estimate of probability that he or she would drive while alcohol-impaired in the following year. Increasing certainty of apprehension by increasing police staffing and/or conducting sobriety checks is a more effective strategy for reducing alcohol-impaired driving than legislating increased penalties for DWI.

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Smoking-Induced Affect Modulation in Nonwithdrawn Smokers With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and in Those With No Psychiatric Disorder

Jessica Cook et al.

Journal of Abnormal Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research sought to determine whether smoking influences affect by means other than withdrawal reduction. Little previous evidence suggests such an effect. We surmised that such an effect would be especially apparent in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD), 2 disorders that are frequently comorbid with smoking and that involve dysregulated affect. Participants were U.S. veterans who were regular smokers (N = 159): 52 with PTSD (58% with comorbid MDD), 51 with MDD, and 56 controls with no psychiatric disorder. During 3 positive and 3 negative mood induction trials (scheduled over 2 sessions), nonwithdrawn participants smoked either a nicotine-containing cigarette (NIC+), a nicotine-free cigarette (NIC−), or held a pen. Positive and negative affect were each measured before and after mood induction. Results showed a significant 2-way interaction of Smoking Condition × Time on negative affect during the negative mood induction (F(6, 576) = 2.41, p = .03) in those with PTSD and controls. In these groups, both NIC+ and NIC−, relative to pen, produced lower negative affect ratings after the negative mood induction. There was also a 2-way interaction of Smoking Condition × Time on positive affect response to the positive mood induction among those with PTSD and controls (F(6, 564) = 3.17, p = .005) and among MDD and controls (F(6, 564) = 2.27, p = .036). Among all smokers, NIC+ enhanced the magnitude and duration of positive affect more than did NIC−. Results revealed affect modulation outside the context of withdrawal relief; such effects may motivate smoking among those with psychiatric diagnoses, and among smokers in general.

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Trends and correlates of marijuana use among late middle-aged and older adults in the United States, 2002–2014

Christopher Salas-Wright et al.

Drug and Alcohol Dependence, February 2017, Pages 97–106

Method: Findings are based on repeated, cross-sectional data collected from late middle-aged (ages 50-64) and older adults (ages 65 and older) surveyed as part of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2002 and 2014.

Results: The prevalence of past-year marijuana use among late middle-aged adults increased significantly from a low of 2.95% in 2003 to a high of 9.08% in 2014. Similarly, the prevalence of marijuana use increased significantly among older adults from a low of 0.15% in 2003 to a high of 2.04% in 2014. Notably, the upward trends in marijuana use remained significant even when accounting for sociodemographic, substance use, behavioral, and health-related factors. We also found that decreases in marijuana-specific protective factors were associated with the observed trend changes in marijuana use among late middle-aged and older adults, and observed a weakening of the association between late-middle aged marijuana use and risk propensity, other illicit drug use, and criminal justice system involvement over the course of the study.

Conclusions: Findings from the present study provide robust evidence indicating that marijuana use among older Americans has increased markedly in recent years, with the most evident changes observed between 2008 and 2014.

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Parent–Offspring Resemblance for Drinking Behaviors in a Longitudinal Twin Sample

Gretchen Saunders et al.

Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, January 2016, Pages 49–58

Objective: The purpose of the current study was to evaluate parent–offspring resemblance for alcohol consumption and dependence symptoms, including sex-specific effects, and how these patterns change across adolescence and early adulthood.

Method: Three cohorts of twins were assessed longitudinally at five time points between ages 14 and 29 years, with parents directly assessed at intake, using structured interviews. Twin offspring and parents from the population-based Minnesota Twin Family Study were included for a total sample size of 3,762 offspring (52% female) and their parents. Alcohol use was measured using an index based on drinking quantity, frequency, maximum drinks, and number of intoxications. Alcohol dependence symptom counts were also used.

Results: Parent–offspring correlations for alcohol consumption increased from age 14 (r = .12) to age 17 (r = .25), remained stable from ages 17 through 24, and then decreased slightly by age 29 (r = .19). Familial resemblance for symptoms of alcohol dependence peaked at age 17 (r = .18) then decreased through age 29 (r = .11). Parent–offspring correlations of both measures did not vary significantly by sex of offspring or sex of parent.

Conclusions: Overall, parent–offspring resemblance for alcohol use and problems is relatively stable after early adulthood, with resemblance for alcohol use at higher magnitudes across offspring development. Evidence for differential resemblance based on sex of offspring or parents was lacking.

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Compliance Inspections of Tobacco Retailers and Youth Smoking

Rahi Abouk & Scott Adams

American Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Since 2010, the Food and Drug Administration has contracted with states to perform random checks of tobacco retailers to identify illegal sales to youths. We test whether the inspections affect youth access and smoking for boys and girls. Using the 2010-13 Monitoring the Future survey and data on the number and location of inspections in the first several years of the program, we find the checks have been successful at limiting access to cigarettes in small retail establishments. As for reducing smoking, we observe reductions only among girls. Boys continue to smoke with about the same incidence and intensity as before the inspections. The likely reason for this is that girls are generally more successful at purchasing illicit products at retail establishments while underage. Therefore, enforcing the minimum legal age laws for purchasing tobacco products likely curtails the access of girls to the illegal product.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Positions of power

The Churches' Bans on Consanguineous Marriages, Kin-Networks and Democracy

Jonathan Schulz

Yale Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
This paper highlights the role of kin-networks for the functioning of democracy: countries with strong extended families as characterized by a high level of cousin marriages exhibit a weak rule of law and are more likely autocratic. To assess causality, I exploit a quasi-natural experiment. In the early medieval ages the Church started to prohibit kin-marriages. Using the variation in the duration and extent of the Eastern and Western Churches’ bans on consanguineous marriages as instrumental variables, reveals highly significant point estimates of the percentage of cousin marriage on an index of democracy. An additional novel instrument, cousin-terms, strengthens this point: the estimates are very similar and do not rest on the European experience alone. Exploiting within country variation of cousin marriages in Italy, as well as within variation of a ‘societal marriage pressure’ indicator for a larger set of countries support these results. These findings point to a causal effect of marriage patterns on the proper functioning of formal institutions and democracy. The study further suggests that the Churches’ marriage rules - by destroying extended kin-groups - led Europe on its special path of institutional and democratic development.

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Reassessing the Quality of Government in China

Margaret Boittin, Greg Distelhorst & Francis Fukuyama

Stanford Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
How should the quality of government be measured across disparate national contexts? This study develops a new approach using an original survey of Chinese civil servants and a comparison to the United States. We surveyed over 2,500 Chinese municipal officials on three organizational features of their bureaucracies: meritocracy, individual autonomy, and morale. They report greater meritocracy than U.S. federal employees in almost all American agencies. China's edge is smaller in autonomy and markedly smaller in morale. Differences between the U.S. and China lessen, but do not disappear, after adjusting for respondent demographics and excluding respondents most likely to be influenced by social desirability biases. Our findings contrast with numerous indices of good government that rank the U.S. far above China. They suggest that incorporating the opinions of political insiders into quality of government indices may challenge the foundations of a large body of cross-national governance research.

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Inequality, Economic Development, and Democratization

Christian Houle

Studies in Comparative International Development, December 2016, Pages 503–529

Abstract:
Although multiple theories suggest that economic development and inequality somehow affect democratization, these claims have received only limited empirical support. I contend that much of the confusion stems from the implicit assumption held by the literature that development and inequality affect democratization independently of one another. In this paper, I argue that the effect of income distribution on democratization is in fact contingent on the income level: in middle-income countries inequality fosters democratization; in rich countries, however, it harms democratization. Using a data set covering almost all autocracies between 1960 and 2007, I find evidence consistent with my hypothesis.

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Corruption and Political Stability: Does the Youth Bulge Matter?

Mohammad Reza Farzanegan & Stefan Witthuhn

European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study shows that the relative size of the youth bulge matters in how corruption affects the internal stability of a political system. Using panel data covering the 1984–2012 period for more than 100 countries, we find that the effect of corruption on political stability depends on the youth bulge. Corruption is a destabilizing factor for political systems when the share of the youth population in the adult population exceeds a critical level of approximately 20%. The moderating effect of the youth bulge in the stability–corruption nexus is robust, controlling for country and year fixed effects, a set of control variables that may affect internal political stability, an alternative operationalization of the youth bulge, corruption, and a dynamic panel estimation method.

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Propaganda and credulity

Andrew Little

Games and Economic Behavior, March 2017, Pages 224–232

Abstract:
I develop a theory of propaganda which affects mass behavior without necessarily affecting mass beliefs. A group of citizens observe a signal of their government's performance, which is upwardly inflated by propaganda. Citizens want to support the government if it performs well and if others are supportive (i.e., to coordinate). Some citizens are unaware of the propaganda (“credulous”). Because of the coordination motive, the non-credulous still respond to propaganda, and when the coordination motive dominates they perfectly mimic the actions of the credulous. So, all can act as if they believe the government's lies even though most do not. The government benefits from this responsiveness to manipulation since it leads to a more compliant citizenry, but uses more propaganda precisely when citizens are less responsive.

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The Impact of the Ouster of President Morsi on the Political-Religious Attitudes of Egyptian Citizens

Friederike Sadowski, Héctor Carvacho & Andreas Zick

Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
While conducting a survey in Egypt in the summer of 2013, we were interrupted by the ouster of President Morsi, but continued afterward, resulting in a unique sample set. With these data, we were able to investigate, with a quasi-experimental design, the impact of the ouster, a major turning point in the Egyptian revolution, on the attitudes of Egyptians regarding political participation, the role of religion in politics, and Islamist ideology. After the ouster, overall willingness to participate in politics, whether in form of demonstrations, voting, or strikes, declined. Regarding the role of religion in politics, participants favored less involvement of religion in politics after the ouster. The attitude towards jihadism facet of Islamist ideology changed slightly from strong disagreement to disagreement. Besides the ouster, a factor generally affecting the political attitudes was education: the more highly educated individuals were the more willingness they showed to become politically active. Another factor was the general religious orientation: the more religious individuals were the more important for them was religion for politics. However, the religious orientation had no effect on the attitude towards Islamist ideology.

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Colonial Legacy, Polarization and Linguistic Disenfranchisement: The Case of the Sri Lankan War

Paul Castañeda Dower, Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber

Journal of Development Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We introduce a new ethnolinguistic polarization measure that takes into account the impact of historical factors on intergroup relations in Sri Lanka. During the colonial era, intergroup relations changed considerably due, in part, to the uneven spread of the English language on the island and its role in British governance. Accordingly, our measure is sensitive to regional differences in English language acquisition before independence. By using a data set on victims of terrorist attacks by district and war period during the protracted war in Sri Lanka, we find that our measure is more strongly correlated with the number of victims, and is associated with 70% more victims, on average, than is a polarization measure based on the context-independent linguistic distances between groups. Thus, the historical underpinnings of our measure illustrate in a quantitative manner the relevance of history for understanding patterns of civil conflict.

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Of terrorism and revenue: Why foreign aid exacerbates terrorism in personalist regimes

Andrew Boutton

Conflict Management and Peace Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
States hosting terrorist groups often receive foreign aid from donors who have an interest in reducing the level of terrorism in these countries. However, existing work is inconclusive on the question of whether such aid is effective at bringing about favorable counterterrorism outcomes. Aid scholars argue that the political structure of the recipient regime is an important determinant of development aid effectiveness. I apply this logic to the topic of counterterrorism aid and argue that the effects of foreign aid on terrorism will be conditional on recipient political incentives. In particular, personalist dictatorships are unique in their reliance upon external sources of revenue with which to keep their regimes afloat. Thus, rents from foreign aid encourage these regimes to become counterterrorism “racketeers”, offering their services in exchange for a fee. But rather than fixing the problem, they perpetuate it, as their survival is conditional upon a perpetual security threat. Using a variety of data on regime type, terrorist attacks, and terrorist group duration, I find that in personalist regimes, US aid significantly increases levels of terrorist activity. This paper contributes to the literature linking foreign aid and terrorism by considering domestic politics as an important determinant of counterterrorism aid effectiveness.

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The Economic Origins of Conflict in Africa

Eoin McGuirk & Marshall Burke

NBER Working Paper, January 2017

Abstract:
We study the impact of plausibly exogenous global food price shocks on local violence across the African continent. In food-producing areas, higher food prices reduce conflict over the control of territory (what we call “factor conflict”) and increase conflict over the appropriation of surplus (“output conflict”). We argue that this difference arises because higher prices raise the opportunity cost of soldiering for producers, while simultaneously inducing net consumers to appropriate increasingly valuable surplus as their real wages fall. In regions without crop agriculture, higher food prices increase both factor conflict and output conflict, as poor consumers turn to soldiering and appropriation in order to maintain a minimum consumption target. We validate local-level findings on output conflict using geocoded survey data on interpersonal theft and violence against commercial farmers and traders. Ignoring the distinction between producer and consumer effects leads to attenuated estimates. Our findings help reconcile a growing but ambiguous literature on the economic roots of conflict.

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Refugees, Economic Capacity, and Host State Repression

Thorin Wright & Shweta Moorthy

International Interactions, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does hosting refugees affect state repression? While there have been numerous studies that examine the link between refugees and the spread of civil and international conflict, an examination of the systematic links between refugees and repression is lacking. We contend that researchers are missing a crucial link, as the dissent-repression nexus is crucial to understanding the development of armed conflict. Drawing upon logics of the relationship between refugees and the spread of conflict as well as economic capacity, we argue that increased numbers of refugees leads to increased repression. We contend that willingness to increase repression when hosting refugees is in part conditional on a host state’s economic capacity. We argue that, on the whole, the greater the population of refugees in a host state, repression becomes more likely. That said, we argue that increased economic capacity will moderate this relationship. We find empirical support for both predictions.

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Economic Breakdown and Collective Action

Neal Caren, Sarah Gaby & Catherine Herrold

Social Problems, forthcoming

Abstract:
While social movement scholarship has emphasized the role of activists in socially constructing grievances, we contend that material adversity is a reoccurring precondition of anti-state mobilization. We test the effect of economic decline on the count of large-scale, anti-government demonstrations and riots. Using multiple sources of newspaper reports of contentious events across 145 countries during the period 1960-2006, we find a statistically significant negative relationship between economic growth and the number of contentious events, controlling for a variety of state-governance, demographic, and media characteristics. We find that the effect is strongest under conditions of extreme economic decline and in non-democracies. These findings highlight the need for social movement scholars to take seriously the role of economic performance as an important factor that enables mobilization.

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Autocratic Rule and Social Capital: Evidence from Imperial China

Melanie Meng Xue & Mark Koyama

George Mason University Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
This paper studies the consequences of autocratic rule for social capital in the context of imperial China. Between 1660-1788, individuals were persecuted if they were suspected of subversive attitudes towards the autocratic ruler. Using a difference-in-differences approach, our main finding is that these persecutions led to an average decline of 38% in the number of charitable organizations in each subsequent decade. To investigate the long-run effect of persecutions, we examine the impact that they had on the provision of local public goods. During this period, local public goods, such as basic education, relied primarily on voluntary contributions and local cooperation. We show that persecutions are associated with lower provision of basic education suggesting that they permanently reduced social capital. This is consistent with what we find in modern survey data: persecutions left a legacy of mistrust and political apathy.

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Democracy and minority language recognition: Tyranny of the majority and the conditional effects of group size

Amy Liu

Democratization, forthcoming

Abstract:
What explains minority language recognition? Why are some governments more responsive than others to minority linguistic demands? While there are reasons to believe democracies – as protectors of civil liberties – are generally more likely to recognize minority demands, I argue only those without a sizable majority extend such recognition to the highest levels. This is because the dominance of one large linguistic group electorally impedes a democratic government’s ability to grant such benefits to the smaller ones. I test this argument by using a newly constructed measure of minority language recognition. This variable identifies whether a minority language is used in public education, and if so, it differentiates between instruction of and instruction in a minority language. I find that while democracies are indeed more likely to acknowledge minority languages, the effects are conditional: only those without a majority are able or willing to accommodate minorities to the fullest extent. Otherwise, when there is a tyranny of the majority, democracies behave no differently than their dictatorial counterparts. The results – robust to different measurements of majoritarian politics – hold important implications for our understanding of democracy and its ability to satisfy demands in divided societies.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Legitimate

Exposure to justice diminishes moral perception

Ana Gantman & Jay Van Bavel

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, December 2016, Pages 1728-1739

Abstract:
Evidence suggests that people have a lower threshold for the conscious awareness of moral words. Given the potential motivational relevance of moral concerns, the authors hypothesized and found that motivational relevance of moral stimuli enhanced the detection of moral words. People who saw a CrimeStoppers advertisement in which a majority (vs. minority) of wanted murderers had been brought to justice exhibited reduced detection of moral words (Experiment 1). Similarly, people who read that an assailant was arrested (vs. escaped punishment) exhibited reduced detection of moral words (Experiment 2). In both experiments, the effect of justice motives on moral word detection was specific to words presented near (vs. distant) to the threshold for perceptual awareness. These findings suggest that satiating (vs. activating) justice motives can reduce the frequency with which moral (vs. non-moral) words reach perceptual awareness. Implications for models of moral psychology, particularly the role of perception in morality, are discussed.

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Value Corruption: Instrumental Use Erodes Sacred Values

Rachel Ruttan & Loran Nordgren

Northwestern University Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
Sacred values like environmental-protection, patriotism, and diversity are increasingly leveraged by organizations, marketers, and individuals to yield profits and favorable reputations. In the current research, we investigated a potentially perverse consequence of this tendency: that observing values used instrumentally (i.e., in the service of self-interest) will negatively impact observers' perceptions of those values. Six studies demonstrate support for this value corruption hypothesis. Following exposure to the instrumental use of a sacred value, people perceived that value to be less sacred as assessed by both explicit (Studies 1-6) and implicit (Study 4) measures, and were less willing to act in value-consistent ways (Studies 4 and 5). Study 3 found that the value corruption effect was specific to sacred values, and was attenuated when a non-sacred value was used instrumentally. These results have important implications: People and organizations that use values instrumentally may ultimately undermine the values from which they intend to benefit. The results also suggest that introducing market norms into previously untouched domains will ultimately come at a cost.

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Variation in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) is associated with differences in moral judgment

Regan Bernhard et al.

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, December 2016, Pages 1872-1881

Abstract:
Moral judgments are produced through the coordinated interaction of multiple neural systems, each of which relies on a characteristic set of neurotransmitters. Genes that produce or regulate these neurotransmitters may have distinctive influences on moral judgment. Two studies examined potential genetic influences on moral judgment using dilemmas that reliably elicit competing automatic and controlled responses, generated by dissociable neural systems. Study 1 (N = 228) examined 49 common variants (SNPs) within 10 candidate genes and identified a nominal association between a polymorphism (rs237889) of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) and variation in deontological vs utilitarian moral judgment (that is, judgments favoring individual rights vs the greater good). An association was likewise observed for rs1042615 of the arginine vasopressin receptor gene (AVPR1A). Study 2 (N = 322) aimed to replicate these findings using the aforementioned dilemmas as well as a new set of structurally similar medical dilemmas. Study 2 failed to replicate the association with AVPR1A, but replicated the OXTR finding using both the original and new dilemmas. Together, these findings suggest that moral judgment is influenced by variation in the oxytocin receptor gene and, more generally, that single genetic polymorphisms can have a detectable effect on complex decision processes.

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Dirty Money: The Role of Moral History in Economic Judgments

Arber Tasimi & Susan Gelman

Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although traditional economic models posit that money is fungible, psychological research abounds with examples that deviate from this assumption. Across eight experiments, we provide evidence that people construe physical currency as carrying traces of its moral history. In Experiments 1 and 2, people report being less likely to want money with negative moral history (i.e., stolen money). Experiments 3-5 provide evidence against an alternative account that people's judgments merely reflect beliefs about the consequences of accepting stolen money rather than moral sensitivity. Experiment 6 examines whether an aversion to stolen money may reflect contamination concerns, and Experiment 7 indicates that people report they would donate stolen money, thereby counteracting its negative history with a positive act. Finally, Experiment 8 demonstrates that, even in their recall of actual events, people report a reduced tendency to accept tainted money. Altogether, these findings suggest a robust tendency to evaluate money based on its moral history, even though it is designed to participate in exchanges that effectively erase its origins.

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Judging those who judge: Perceivers infer the roles of affect and cognition underpinning others' moral dilemma responses

Sarah Rom, Alexa Weiss & Paul Conway

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, March 2017, Pages 44-58

Abstract:
Whereas considerable research examines antecedents of moral dilemma judgments where causing harm maximizes outcomes, this work examines social consequences: whether participants infer personality characteristics from others' dilemma judgments. We propose that people infer the roles of affective and cognitive processing underlying other peoples' moral dilemma judgments, and use this information to inform personality perceptions. In Studies 1 and 2, participants rated targets who rejected causing outcome-maximizing harm (consistent with deontology) as warmer but less competent than targets who accepted causing outcome-maximizing harm (consistent with utilitarianism). Studies 3a and 3b replicated this pattern and demonstrated that perceptions of affective processing mediated the effect on warmth, whereas perceptions of cognitive processing mediated the effect on competence. In Study 4 participants accurately predicted that affective decision-makers would reject harm, whereas cognitive decision-makers would accept harm. Furthermore, participants preferred targets who rejected causing harm for a social role prioritizing warmth (pediatrician), whereas they preferred targets who accepted causing harm for a social role prioritizing competence (hospital management, Study 5). Together, these results suggest that people infer the role of affective and cognitive processing underlying others' harm rejection and acceptance judgments, which inform personality inferences and decision-making.

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Beyond Purity: Moral Disgust Toward Bad Character

Roger Giner-Sorolla & Hanah Chapman

Psychological Science, January 2017, Pages 80-91

Abstract:
Previous studies support a link between moral disgust and impurity, whereas anger is linked to harm. We challenged these strict correspondences by showing that disgust is activated in response to information about moral character, even for harm violations. By contrast, anger is activated in response to information about actions, including their moral wrongness and consequences. Study 1 examined disgust and anger in response to an action that suggests bad moral character (animal cruelty) versus an action that is seen as inherently more wrong (domestic abuse). Animal cruelty was associated with more disgust than domestic abuse was, whereas domestic abuse was associated with more anger. Studies 2 and 3 manipulated character by varying the agent's desire to cause harm and also varied the action's harmful consequences. Desire to harm predicted only disgust (controlling for anger), whereas consequences were more closely related to anger (controlling for disgust). Taken together, these results indicate that disgust arises in response to evidence of bad moral character, not just to impurity.

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Corporate Personhood: Lay Perceptions and Ethical Consequences

Arthur Jago & Kristin Laurin

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, forthcoming

Abstract:
Modern conceptions of corporate personhood have spurred considerable debate about the rights that society should afford business organizations. Across eight experiments, we compare lay perceptions of how corporations and people use rights, and also explore the with consequences of these judgments. We find that people believe corporations, compared to humans, are similarly likely to use rights in protective ways that prevent harm but more likely to use rights in nonprotective ways that appear independent from - or even create - harm (Experiments 1a through 1c and Experiment 2). Because of these beliefs, people support corporate rights to a lesser extent than human rights (Experiment 3). However, people are more supportive of specific corporate rights when we framed them as serving protective functions (Experiment 4). Also as a result of these beliefs, people attribute greater ethical responsibility to corporations, but not to humans, that gain access to rights (Experiments 5a and 5b). Despite their equitability in many domains, people believe corporations and humans use rights in different ways, ultimately producing different reactions to their behaviors as well as asymmetric moral evaluations.

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"Thou Shalt Kill": Practicing self-control supports adherence to personal values when asked to aggress

Thomas Denson et al.

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, March 2017, Pages 71-78

Abstract:
Poor self-control is a root cause of aggression and criminality. But people can improve their self-control through repetitive practice. Because self-control involves acting in accordance with personal values, practicing self-control can promote attainment of value-consistent goals. The present research tested the hypothesis that practicing self-control could both decrease and increase obedient aggression. In Experiment 1, relative to the active control group, participants who practiced self-control were more hesitant to engage in mock violence (e.g., "cutting" the experimenter's throat with a rubber knife), especially for participants high in dispositional empathy. In Experiment 2, practicing self-control increased obedience to kill insects, but only among participants who felt little moral responsibility for their actions. There was a trend for decreased killing among participants who felt morally responsible for their actions. Our findings suggest that when asked to behave aggressively, self-control promotes adherence to personal values, which may or may not fuel aggression.

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Empathy by dominant versus minority group members in intergroup interaction: Do dominant group members always come out on top?

Jacquie Vorauer & Matthew Quesnel

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
What power dynamics are instantiated when a minority group member empathizes with a dominant group member during social interaction? How do these dynamics compare to those instantiated when the dominant group member instead does the empathizing? According to a general power script account, because empathy is generally directed "down" toward disadvantaged targets needing support, the empathizer should come out "on top" with respect to power-relevant outcomes no matter who it is. According to a meta-stereotype account, because adopting an empathic stance in intergroup contexts leads individuals to think about how their own group is viewed (including with respect to power-relevant characteristics), the dominant group member might come out on top no matter which person empathizes. Two studies involving face-to-face intergroup exchanges yielded results that overall were consistent with the meta-stereotype account: Regardless of who does it, empathy in intergroup contexts seems more apt to exacerbate than mitigate group-based status differences.

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Public Attitudes Toward Legal Abortion, Euthanasia, Suicide, and Capital Punishment: Partial Evidence of a Consistent Life Ethic

Adam Trahan

Criminal Justice Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research suggests that public attitudes toward capital punishment are fundamentally value expressive rather than instrumental. This study explores the value-expressive basis of capital punishment attitudes by analyzing the relationships between various domains of life and the law. Logistic regression of data from the 1972-2012 cumulative data file of the General Social Survey was used to analyze whether composite variables for opposition to legal abortion, euthanasia, and suicide could predict capital punishment attitudes. Findings show that main effects of opposition to legal abortion, suicide, and euthanasia increased the odds of opposing capital punishment. Among 3 two-way interaction terms, only opposition to suicide and euthanasia was significant, and it was associated with increased support for capital punishment rather than opposition. These findings lend qualified support to the consistent life ethic framework and value-expressive basis of capital punishment attitudes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, January 16, 2017

Spent

The Persistent Reduction in Poverty from Filing a Tax Return

Shanthi Ramnath & Patricia Tong

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Low-income households not required to file often fail to receive benefits provided through the tax code. In 2008, the U.S. government made people with at least $3,000 in earnings eligible for a stimulus payment if they filed a tax return. Using eligibility for this credit as an instrument for filing, we find with administrative data that filing reduces the probability of living in poverty in future years, which is a result of increases in EITC claiming, workforce attachment, and earnings. These results demonstrate temporary incentives to participate in the tax system have persistent real effects on economic activity and poverty.

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The Relationship Between Mental Representations of Welfare Recipients and Attitudes Toward Welfare

Jazmin Brown-Iannuzzi et al.

Psychological Science, January 2017, Pages 92-103

Abstract:
Scholars have argued that opposition to welfare is, in part, driven by stereotypes of African Americans. This argument assumes that when individuals think about welfare, they spontaneously think about Black recipients. We investigated people’s mental representations of welfare recipients. In Studies 1 and 2, we used a perceptual task to visually estimate participants’ mental representations of welfare recipients. Compared with the average non-welfare-recipient image, the average welfare-recipient image was perceived (by a separate sample) as more African American and more representative of stereotypes associated with welfare recipients and African Americans. In Study 3, participants were asked to determine whether they supported giving welfare benefits to the people pictured in the average welfare-recipient and non-welfare-recipient images generated in Study 2. Participants were less supportive of giving welfare benefits to the person shown in the welfare-recipient image than to the person shown in the non-welfare-recipient image. The results suggest that mental images of welfare recipients may bias attitudes toward welfare policies.

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The Life-cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program

Jorge Luis García et al.

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
This paper estimates the long-term benefits from an influential early childhood program targeting disadvantaged families. The program was evaluated by random assignment and followed participants through their mid-30s. It has substantial beneficial impacts on health, children's future labor incomes, crime, education, and mothers' labor incomes, with greater monetized benefits for males. Lifetime returns are estimated by pooling multiple data sets using testable economic models. The overall rate of return is 13.7% per annum, and the benefit/cost ratio is 7.3. These estimates are robust to numerous sensitivity analyses.

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Adolescence is a Sensitive Period for Housing Mobility to Influence Risky Behaviors: An Experimental Design

Nicole Schmidt, Maria Glymour & Theresa Osypuk

Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Methods: The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) study randomly assigned volunteer families (1994–1997) to receive a Section 8 voucher to move to lower poverty neighborhoods versus a public housing control group. We tested three-way treatment, gender, and age-at-randomization interactions using intent-to-treat linear regression predicting a risky behavior index (RBI; measured in 2002, N = 2,829), defined as the fraction of 10 behaviors the youth reported (six measuring risky substance use [RSU], four measuring risky sexual behavior), and the RSU and risky sexual behavior subscales.

Results: The treatment main effect on RBI was nonsignificant for girls (B = −.01, 95% confidence interval −.024 to .014) and harmful for boys (B = .03, 95% confidence interval .009 to .059; treatment-gender interaction p = .01). The treatment, gender, and age interaction was significant for RBI (p = .02) and RSU (p ≤ .001). Treatment boys 10 years or older at randomization were more likely (p < .05) than controls to exhibit RBI and RSU, whereas there was no effect of treatment for boys <10 years. There were no treatment control differences by age for girls' RBI, but girls 9+ years were less likely than girls ≤8 years to exhibit RSU (p < .05).

Conclusions: Moving families of boys aged 10 years or older with rental vouchers may have adverse consequences on risky behaviors but may be beneficial for girls' substance use. Developmental windows are different by gender for the effects of improving neighborhood contexts on adolescent risky behavior.

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Targeting Policies: Multiple Testing and Distributional Treatment Effects

Steven Lehrer, Vincent Pohl & Kyungchul Song

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
Economic theory often predicts that treatment responses may depend on individuals’ characteristics and location on the outcome distribution. Policymakers need to account for such treatment effect heterogeneity in order to efficiently allocate resources to subgroups that can successfully be targeted by a policy. However, when interpreting treatment effects across subgroups and the outcome distribution, inference has to be adjusted for multiple hypothesis testing to avoid an overestimation of positive treatment effects. We propose six new tests for treatment effect heterogeneity that make corrections for the family-wise error rate and that identify subgroups and ranges of the outcome distribution exhibiting economically and statistically significant treatment effects. We apply these tests to individual responses to welfare reform and show that welfare recipients benefit from the reform in a smaller range of the earnings distribution than previously estimated. Our results shed new light on effectiveness of welfare reform and demonstrate the importance of correcting for multiple testing.

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The Role of Policy and Practice in Short Spells of Child Care Subsidy Participation

Elizabeth Davis, Caroline Krafft & Nicole Forry

Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, January 2017, Pages 1-19

Abstract:
A major change in US child care subsidy policy in 2014 established a 12-month eligibility period for families participating in the child care subsidy program. The primary policy objective of lengthening eligibility periods was to increase the stability of child care. Previous research in a small number of states has shown that families are more likely to leave the subsidy program at the time of eligibility recertification even though they may remain eligible. Using data from the state of Maryland, this article investigates whether longer eligibility periods contribute to longer continuous subsidy receipt and the degree to which local offices follow state guidelines when setting redetermination periods. Using a Cox proportional hazards model and controlling for child, family, and provider characteristics, we show that families were substantially more likely to leave the subsidy program when their voucher was due to expire or they were scheduled to recertify eligibility. We find that the span of time allotted to families before they need to recertify eligibility varied substantially across counties in ways that were not related to child or family characteristics, despite a statewide policy allowing eligibility recertification at 12-month intervals.

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Protective Prevention Effects on the Association of Poverty With Brain Development

Gene Brody et al.

JAMA Pediatrics, January 2017, Pages 46-52

Design, Setting, and Participants: In the rural southeastern United States, African American parents and their 11-year-old children were assigned randomly to the Strong African American Families randomized prevention trial or to a control condition. Parents provided data used to calculate income-to-needs ratios when children were aged 11 to 13 years and 16 to 18 years. When the participants were aged 25 years, hippocampal and amygdalar volumes were measured using magnetic resonance imaging.

Results: Of the 667 participants in the Strong African American Families randomized prevention trial, 119 right-handed African American individuals aged 25 years living in rural areas were recruited. Years lived in poverty across ages 11 to 18 years forecasted diminished left dentate gyrus (simple slope, −14.20; standard error, 5.22; P = .008) and CA3 (simple slope, −6.42; standard error, 2.42; P = .009) hippocampal subfields and left amygdalar (simple slope, −34.62; standard error, 12.74; P = .008) volumes among young adults in the control condition (mean [SD] time, 2.04 [1.88] years) but not among those who participated in the Strong African American Families program (mean [SD] time, 2.61 [1.77] years).

Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, we described how participation in a randomized clinical trial designed to enhance supportive parenting ameliorated the association of years lived in poverty with left dentate gyrus and CA3 hippocampal subfields and left amygdalar volumes. These findings are consistent with a possible role for supportive parenting and suggest a strategy for narrowing social disparities.

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The effects of minimum wages on the health of working teenagers

Susan Averett, Julie Smith & Yang Wang

Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the effect of minimum wage increases on the self-reported health of teenage workers. We use a difference-in-differences estimation strategy and data from the Current Population Survey, and disaggregate the sample by race/ethnicity and gender to uncover the differential effects of changes in the minimum wage on health. We find that white women are more likely to report better health with a minimum wage increase while Hispanic men report worse health.

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Landlords avoid tenants who pay with vouchers

David Phillips

Economics Letters, February 2017, Pages 48–52

Abstract:
This paper uses a correspondence experiment with fictional housing applicants to test how landlords respond to tenants paying with a subsidized voucher. Landlords respond positively to those wishing to pay by voucher only half as often as to those indicating no such desire. Within the set of apartments eligible for voucher rent limits, the voucher penalty increases with monthly rent. Landlord behavior places quantitatively important restrictions on the quantity and type of apartments available to voucher recipients.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mankind

Earliest Human Presence in North America Dated to the Last Glacial Maximum: New Radiocarbon Dates from Bluefish Caves, Canada

Lauriane Bourgeon, Ariane Burke & Thomas Higham

PLoS ONE, January 2017

Abstract:
The timing of the first entry of humans into North America is still hotly debated within the scientific community. Excavations conducted at Bluefish Caves (Yukon Territory) from 1977 to 1987 yielded a series of radiocarbon dates that led archaeologists to propose that the initial dispersal of human groups into Eastern Beringia (Alaska and the Yukon Territory) occurred during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). This hypothesis proved highly controversial in the absence of other sites of similar age and concerns about the stratigraphy and anthropogenic signature of the bone assemblages that yielded the dates. The weight of the available archaeological evidence suggests that the first peopling of North America occurred ca. 14,000 cal BP (calibrated years Before Present), i.e., well after the LGM. Here, we report new AMS radiocarbon dates obtained on cut-marked bone samples identified during a comprehensive taphonomic analysis of the Bluefish Caves fauna. Our results demonstrate that humans occupied the site as early as 24,000 cal BP (19,650 ± 130 14C BP). In addition to proving that Bluefish Caves is the oldest known archaeological site in North America, the results offer archaeological support for the “Beringian standstill hypothesis”, which proposes that a genetically isolated human population persisted in Beringia during the LGM and dispersed from there to North and South America during the post-LGM period.

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Myopia is an adaptive characteristic of vision: Not a disease or defect

Richard Wielkiewicz

Review of General Psychology, December 2016, Pages 437-451

Abstract:
This article proposes that myopia (nearsightedness) is an adaptive characteristic of human vision. Most theories of the evolution of vision assume myopia is a disease or defect that would have resulted in decreased reproductive fitness in the absence of modern corrective lenses. In contrast, the present article argues that myopic individuals may have played important roles in hunter–gatherer groups such as making tools and weapons, and identifying medicinal plants, contributing to individual and group survival. This idea is called the “adaptive myopia hypothesis.” Evidence favoring this hypothesis is reviewed in the context of the metatheory of evolutionary psychology.

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Large Scale Anthropogenic Reduction of Forest Cover in Last Glacial Maximum Europe

Jed Kaplan et al.

PLoS ONE, November 2016

Abstract:
Reconstructions of the vegetation of Europe during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) are an enigma. Pollen-based analyses have suggested that Europe was largely covered by steppe and tundra, and forests persisted only in small refugia. Climate-vegetation model simulations on the other hand have consistently suggested that broad areas of Europe would have been suitable for forest, even in the depths of the last glaciation. Here we reconcile models with data by demonstrating that the highly mobile groups of hunter-gatherers that inhabited Europe at the LGM could have substantially reduced forest cover through the ignition of wildfires. Similar to hunter-gatherers of the more recent past, Upper Paleolithic humans were masters of the use of fire, and preferred inhabiting semi-open landscapes to facilitate foraging, hunting and travel. Incorporating human agency into a dynamic vegetation-fire model and simulating forest cover shows that even small increases in wildfire frequency over natural background levels resulted in large changes in the forested area of Europe, in part because trees were already stressed by low atmospheric CO2 concentrations and the cold, dry, and highly variable climate. Our results suggest that the impact of humans on the glacial landscape of Europe may be one of the earliest large-scale anthropogenic modifications of the earth system.

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Low incidence of inbreeding in a long-lived primate population isolated for 75 years

Anja Widdig et al.

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, January 2017

Abstract:
When close relatives mate, offspring are expected to suffer fitness consequences due to inbreeding depression. Inbreeding has previously been quantified in two ways: using a sufficiently large panel of markers or deep and complete pedigrees over several generations. However, the application of both approaches is still limited by the challenge of compiling such data for species with long generation times, such as primates. Here, we assess inbreeding in rhesus macaques living on Cayo Santiago (Puerto Rico), a population genetically isolated since 1938, but descendant of a large set of presumably unrelated founders. Using comprehensive genetic data, we calculated inbreeding coefficients (F) for 2669 individuals with complete three generation pedigrees and 609 individuals with complete four generation pedigrees. We found that 0.79 and 7.39% of individuals had an F > 0 when using data from three and four generation pedigrees, respectively. No evidence of an increase in inbreeding over the study period (up to 23 years) was found. Furthermore, the observed mean relatedness of breeding pairs differed significantly from the distribution of parental relatedness expected as simulated based on previous reproductive data, suggesting that kin generally avoid breeding with each other. Finally, inbreeding was not a predictor of early mortality measured as survival until weaning and sexual maturation, respectively. Our results remain consistent with three estimators of inbreeding (standardized heterozygosity, internal relatedness, and homozygosity by loci) using up to 42 highly polymorphic microsatellites for the same set of individuals. Together, our results demonstrate that close inbreeding may not be prevalent even in populations isolated over long periods when mechanisms of inbreeding avoidance can operate.

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Biomolecular Evidence of Silk from 8,500 Years Ago

Yuxuan Gong et al.

PLoS ONE, December 2016

Abstract:
Pottery, bone implements, and stone tools are routinely found at Neolithic sites. However, the integrity of textiles or silk is susceptible to degradation, and it is therefore very difficult for such materials to be preserved for 8,000 years. Although previous studies have provided important evidence of the emergence of weaving skills and tools, such as figuline spinning wheels and osseous lamellas with traces of filament winding, there is a lack of direct evidence proving the existence of silk. In this paper, we explored evidence of prehistoric silk fibroin through the analysis of soil samples collected from three tombs at the Neolithic site of Jiahu. Mass spectrometry was employed and integrated with proteomics to characterize the key peptides of silk fibroin. The direct biomolecular evidence reported here showed the existence of prehistoric silk fibroin, which was found in 8,500-year-old tombs. Rough weaving tools and bone needles were also excavated, indicating the possibility that the Jiahu residents may possess the basic weaving and sewing skills in making textile. This finding may advance the study of the history of silk, and the civilization of the Neolithic Age.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Whatever you want

Immediate Rewards Predict Adherence to Long-Term Goals

Kaitlin Woolley & Ayelet Fishbach

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
People primarily pursue long-term goals, such as exercising, to receive delayed rewards (e.g., improved health). However, we find that the presence of immediate rewards is a stronger predictor of persistence in goal-related activities than the presence of delayed rewards. Specifically, immediate rewards (e.g., enjoyment) predicted current persistence at New Year’s resolutions whereas delayed rewards did not (Study 1). Furthermore, immediate rewards predicted persistence in a single session of studying and exercising whereas delayed rewards did not, even though people report primarily pursuing these activities for delayed rewards (Studies 2 and 3). This is true for both short (1 week) and long (3 month) time frames (Study 4), and regardless of whether anticipated or materialized rewards are assessed (Study 5). Overall, whereas delayed rewards may motivate goal setting and the intentions to pursue long-term goals, a meta-analysis of our studies finds that immediate rewards are more strongly associated with actual persistence in a long-term goal.

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The “Batman Effect”: Improving Perseverance in Young Children

Rachel White et al.

Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study investigated the benefits of self-distancing (i.e., taking an outsider's view of one's own situation) on young children's perseverance. Four- and 6-year-old children (N = 180) were asked to complete a repetitive task for 10 min while having the option to take breaks by playing an extremely attractive video game. Six-year-olds persevered longer than 4-year-olds. Nonetheless, across both ages, children who impersonated an exemplar other — in this case a character, such as Batman — spent the most time working, followed by children who took a third-person perspective on the self, or finally, a first-person perspective. Alternative explanations, implications, and future research directions are discussed.

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Goal Attainability and Performance: Evidence from Boston Marathon Qualifying Standards

Mariya Burdina, Scott Hiller & Neil Metz

Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper we test if performance improves once goals become more attainable. Goal-setting literature suggests that workers respond to challenging but achievable goals with increased performance. Empirical evidence supports the notion of goals increasing performance, however the evidence on how attainability of goals affects performance is mixed. This paper tests whether efforts increase, improving performance as the goals become more attainable. We are employing a unique set of publicly available marathon data from 1970-2015 to directly analyze the effect of goal attainability on performance. With the probable goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, we test if runners increase their effort, and consequently improve their performance if they enter a new age group and as a result have a more attainable goal. We find that runners who enter a new age group perform better than the runners whose qualifying time did not change. This effect is seen with runners in younger age groups, but not found in the results of runners in more advanced years.

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Knowledge of the Self-Control Benefits of High-Level Versus Low-Level Construal

Karen MacGregor et al.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research indicates that inducing high-level construal (processing that highlights invariant, essential features) relative to low-level construal (processing that highlights idiosyncratic, peripheral features) promotes self-control (Fujita & Carnevale, 2012). In the present work, we investigate to what extent people recognize the self-control benefits of high-level construal, and explore the consequences of this knowledge. Studies 1 and 2 provide initial evidence that individuals are aware that high-level relative to low-level construal promotes self-control in the dieting domain. Studies 3 and 4 find that individual differences in this knowledge predict self-control success outcomes (i.e., body mass index) among those who are motivated by dieting goals. Examining academics as a domain of self-control, Study 5 demonstrates that those with higher knowledge of construal level’s impact on self-control earned higher end-of-semester grades to the extent that they were motivated to do well academically. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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Clicks as a Healthy Alternative to Bricks: How Online Grocery Shopping Reduces Vice Purchases

Elke Huyghe et al.

Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although consumers are concerned about their health, obesity statistics suggest that contextual factors often lead them to choose unhealthy alternatives (i.e., vices) rather than healthy ones (i.e., virtues). Noting the increasing prevalence of online grocery shopping, the authors focus on shopping channels as one such contextual factor and investigate how food choices made online differ from food choices made in a traditional brick-and-mortar store. A database study and three lab experiments demonstrate that consumers choose relatively fewer vices in the online shopping environment. Moreover, this shopping channel effect arises because online channels present products symbolically, whereas offline stores present them physically. A symbolic presentation mode decreases the products’ vividness, which in turn diminishes consumers’ desire to seek instant gratification and ultimately leads them to purchase fewer vices. These findings highlight several unexplored differences between online and offline shopping, with important implications for consumers, public policy makers, and retailers.

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Self-affirmation improves performance on tasks related to executive functioning

Philine Harris, Peter Harris & Eleanor Miles

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Objectives: The current study explored the effect of self-affirmation on two aspects of performance that have been related to executive functioning: working memory (assessed by a 2-back task) and inhibition (assessed by a Stroop task). The goal was to establish whether self-affirmation improved performance on these tasks.

Method: Participants (N = 83) were randomized to either a self-affirmation or a control task and then completed the computerized tasks, in a fixed sequence.

Results: Self-affirmed participants performed better than non-affirmed participants on both tasks.

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Self-Control and Peer Groups: An Empirical Analysis

Marco Battaglini, Carlos Díaz & Eleonora Patacchini

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, February 2017, Pages 240–254

Abstract:
We exploit the exogenous variation in peer groups generated by high school to college transitions to study the theoretical predictions of Battaglini et al. (2005) model of self-control in peer groups. We find evidence consistent with the two key predictions of this theory regarding the relationship between an agent's expected level of self-control and the size and composition of his or her social circles: (i) students embedded in social circles have more self-control than those who are alone and their self-control is increasing in the size of their social group; (ii) students’ self-control is, however, a non-monotonic hump-shaped function of the average self-control of their friends.

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Cavum Septum Pellucidum Volume and Life History Strategy

Curtis Dunkel et al.

Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Life history (LH) theory is an increasingly important evolutionary framework for understanding patterns among individual differences. However, developments in LH theory have not been accompanied by research on the neuroanatomy underlying these individual differences. The current investigation is an initial attempt to make a connection between individual differences in LH strategy and the neuroanatomy of the brain by examining the association between cavum septum pellucidum (CSP) and LH strategy. CSP is the space between the leaflets of the septum pellucidum and CSP size has been found to be predictive of numerous psychological illnesses. Moreover, the nomological network of CSP size is similar to that found for LH strategy. Thus, it was hypothesized that CSP size would also be associated with LH strategy. Using structural MRI data from the Human Connectome Project on 542 participants, the relationship between CSP volume and LH strategy, covitality, personality and a Super-K factor composed of the 3 factors was examined. Consistent with predictions, CSP volume was associated with all of the indicators of LH strategy. Additional analyses using the method of correlated vectors supported the CSP volume-LH strategy association. The results are discussed in terms of why this relationship exists, along with a prescription for additional research connecting LH theory and neuroscience.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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