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Friday, January 23, 2015

Official act

Which government officials leak unauthorized information to the press in Washington?

Kara Alaimo
Journal of Public Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
Every modern president of the United States has been bedeviled by unauthorized leaks of government information to the press. Who is responsible for such leaks? Presidents of the United States have accused civil servants of attempting to undermine them. However, journalists have suggested that the presidents' own political appointees leak more. Using interviews conducted in 2013 with both presidential political appointees and civil servants who worked in public affairs for the U.S. Treasury Department during the administrations of Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, as well as interviews with reporters with whom the Treasury officials interacted frequently, this case study finds that political appointees and civil servants leak unauthorized information that does not serve the president's interests to the press with roughly the same frequency. The findings shed light on behavior that is typically shrouded in secrecy and call into question the effort by modern U.S. presidents to gain greater control of the federal government by hiring record numbers of political appointees.

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Government Preferences and SEC Enforcement

Jonas Heese
Harvard Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
I examine whether political pressure by the government as a response to voters' general interest in protecting employment is reflected in the enforcement actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Using labor intensity as a measure for a firm's contribution to employment, I find that labor-intensive firms are less likely to be subject to an SEC enforcement action. Next, I show that labor-intensive firms are less likely to face an SEC enforcement action in presidential election years if they are located in politically important states. I also find evidence of a lower likelihood of SEC enforcement for labor-intensive firms that are headquartered in districts of senior congressmen that serve on committees that oversee the SEC. All of these results hold after controlling for firms' accounting quality and two alternative explanations for firms' favorable treatment by the SEC, i.e., firms' location and political contributions. These findings suggest that voters' interests drive political pressure on SEC enforcement - independent of firms' lobbying for their special interests.

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Explaining Explanations: How Legislators Explain their Policy Positions and How Citizens React

Christian Grose, Neil Malhotra & Robert Parks Van Houweling
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Legislators claim that how they explain their votes matters as much as or more than the roll calls themselves. However, few studies have systematically examined legislators' explanations and citizen attitudes in response to these explanations. We theorize that legislators strategically tailor explanations to constituents in order to compensate for policy choices that are incongruent with constituent preferences, and to reinforce policy choices that are congruent. We conduct a within-subjects field experiment using U.S. senators as subjects to test this hypothesis. We then conduct a between-subjects survey experiment of ordinary people to see how they react to the explanatory strategies used by senators in the field experiment. We find that most senators tailor their explanations to their audiences, and that these tailored explanations are effective at currying support - especially among people who disagree with the legislators' roll-call positions.

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When Talk Isn't Cheap: The Corporate Value of Political Rhetoric

Art Durnev, Larry Fauver & Nandini Gupta
University of Iowa Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Does political rhetoric matter for firms and investors? We conduct a textual analysis of all 388 gubernatorial "State of the state" speeches given between 2002 and 2010 across U.S. states, to examine this question. Political speeches may reduce policy uncertainty (Pastor and Veronesi, 2012), reflect the politician's views regarding the economic future of the state, and contain new information regarding future policies that affect the business environment. Using data on 5,721 firms matched based on their location of their headquarters and main operations, we conduct an event study examining the market reaction to the tone of the State of the state addresses. To examine whether the information has a long-run impact on firms, we also consider changes in firms' investment and employment decisions. Controlling for speech length, firm, and state-level characteristics, the results show a statistically significant and positive association between the level of optimism expressed in a Governor's speech, and the abnormal returns of firms headquartered in that Governor's state. We also find that a more optimistic speech is associated with a statistically significant increase in investment and employment, relative to firm size, whereas a more pessimistic speech is associated with a decline in investment and employment for firms located in that state. To identify the impact of the speech on firms, we show that the results are robust to identifying the geographic focus of firms' operations, using a matched sample of firms located in neighboring states as a control group, and instrumental variables. To identify channels by which the content of the speech may have an impact, we show that firms that obtain state-government contracts, and those that are more dependent on skilled human capital and therefore education spending, significantly increase investments if the budget-related and education-related parts of the speech are more optimistic. We also find that political rhetoric is most informative during uncertain economic conditions, when government policy has had a greater impact. Lastly, we show that institutional characteristics, such as term limits and state-level transparency, affect the response of firms to the speech.

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A Replication of "The Political Determinants of Federal Expenditure at the State Level" (Public Choice, 2005)

Stratford Douglas & Robert Reed
Public Finance Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article replicates and analyzes a study by Hoover and Pecorino (H&P) on federal spending in US states. H&P followed on pathbreaking research by Atlas et al. in which evidence was claimed in favor of the "small state effect"; namely, that since every state is represented by two senators, small states have a disproportionate influence on federal spending relative to their population size. Using H&P's data, we both replicate their results and demonstrate strong support for the small-state effect when we formally test their predictions. The contribution of this study is that we demonstrate that this empirical support vanishes when we (i) employ cluster robust standard errors rather than conventional ordinary least squares (OLS) standard errors and (ii) include a variable for population growth as suggested in a recent study by Larcinese, Rizzo, and Testa. We conclude that there is insufficient evidence to support the hypothesis of a "small-state effect."

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You Get What You Want: A Note on the Economics of Bad News

Jill McCluskey, Johan Swinnen & Thijs Vandemoortele
Information Economics and Policy, March 2015, Pages 1-5

Abstract:
We develop a simple theoretical model that explains the slant towards negative coverage in news media. In a framework where news is informative and consumers are risk averse, diminishing marginal utility implies that information about a negative income shock is more valuable than information about a positive shock, which leads to disproportionate reporting of bad news.

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In government we trust: The role of fiscal decentralization

Jenny Ligthart & Peter van Oudheusden
European Journal of Political Economy, March 2015, Pages 116-128

Abstract:
This paper looks whether fiscal decentralization is associated with trust of citizens in government related institutions. We expect a positive relationship based on the argument of governments' improved responsiveness to preferences of citizens that is perceived to result from more decentralized fiscal systems. Survey data from up to 42 countries over the period 1994-2007 confirm this positive relationship. It is robust to controlling for unobserved country heterogeneity and a wide array of other explanatory variables that are associated with trust in government related institutions. Moreover, we do not find that the positive association with fiscal decentralization extends to other, non-government related institutions.

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Return on Political Investment in the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004

Hui Chen, Katherine Gunny & Karthik Ramanna
Harvard Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Prior literature raises a "puzzle" of high rates of return on corporate political investment, but evidence for this puzzle is largely descriptive in nature. We exploit the setting of the American Jobs Creation Act's passage in 2004 to provide more robust estimates of political returns based on instrumentation in a two-stage regression model. We find for the median sample firm that an increase of $1 million in lobbying spending is associated with about $32.35 million in taxes saved. These estimates, while consistent with a high-returns "puzzle," are nearly an order of magnitude lower than those previously reported via descriptive methods.

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Another tool in the party toolbox? Tracing the strategic expansion of committee size in the US House, 1947-2010

Michael Brady & Daniel Lee
Party Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We consider whether the manipulation of committee sizes can serve as a strategic tool of the majority party to further its influence over policy outcomes in the US House. Previous research notes the influence of the majority party's preferences on the composition of committees but takes the size of committees as exogenous. We argue that the determination of sizes is an important first step and potential tool to shape committee composition, given vacancy constraints like the property rights norm. Using assignment and revealed legislator ideology data from the 80th to 111th Congresses, our results support this view of strategic expansion as a majority party strategy particularly for "prestige committees," which are most central to a party's agenda. Expansion indeed results in committees that are ideologically closer to the majority caucus median.

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It's (Change in) the (Future) Economy, Stupid: Economic Indicators, the Media, and Public Opinion

Stuart Soroka, Dominik Stecula & Christopher Wlezien
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Economic perceptions affect policy preferences and government support. It thus matters that these perceptions are driven by factors other than the economy, including media coverage. We nevertheless know little about how media reflect economic trends, and whether they influence (or are influenced by) public economic perceptions. This article explores the economy, media, and public opinion, focusing in particular on whether media coverage and the public react to changes in or levels of economic activity, and the past, present, or future economy. Analyses rely on content-analytic data drawn from 30,000 news stories over 30 years in the United States. Results indicate that coverage reflects change in the future economy, and that this both influences and is influenced by public evaluations. These patterns make more understandable the somewhat surprising finding of positive coverage and public assessments in the midst of the Great Recession. They also may help explain previous findings in political behavior.

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Lobbying from Inside the System: Why Local Governments Pay for Representation in the U.S. Congress

Matt Loftis & Jaclyn Kettler
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do cities spend scarce resources lobbying the federal government? The hierarchy of U.S. government provides various pathways for local representation. Nevertheless, cities regularly invest in paid representation. This presents a puzzle for American democracy. Why do cities lobby, and do they lobby strategically? We quantify for the first time the extent of this phenomenon and examine its determinants using new data on 498 cities across forty-five states from 1998 to 2008. We find that economic distress pushes cities to lobby, but does not impact expenditures. Cities in competitive congressional districts, and therefore crucial to national politics, spend more on lobbying.

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Over-Accountability

Jacob Gersen & Matthew Stephenson
Journal of Legal Analysis, Winter 2014, Pages 185-243

Abstract:
Although ensuring the "accountability" of agents to their principals is widely considered a core objective of institutional design, recent work in political economy has identified and elucidated an important class of situations in which effective accountability mechanisms can decrease, rather than increase, an agent's likelihood of acting in her principal's interests. The problem, which we call "over-accountability," is essentially an information problem: sometimes even a fully rational but imperfectly informed principal (e.g., the citizens) will reward "bad" actions rather than "good" actions by an agent (e.g. the President). In these cases, not only do accountability mechanisms fail to remedy the agency problem inherent in representative government, they actually make the problem worse. This Article offers a conceptual and empirical overview of over-accountability problems, and also considers a range of potential solutions. By surveying both the distortions themselves and a range of possible responses, this article aspires to assist both public law scholars and institutional reformers in producing more effective solutions.

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Does remuneration affect the discipline and the selection of politicians? Evidence from pay harmonization in the European Parliament

Thomas Braendle
Public Choice, January 2015, Pages 1-24

Abstract:
We study the harmonization of the base pay for the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Prior to this reform, implemented in 2009, base pay was aligned with that of national parliamentarians, causing large differences in pay between the MEPs representing 27 member states. Based on detailed information on individual MEPs between 2004 and 2011, we find that the reform, which introduced an exceptional base pay increase of 200 % per national delegation on average, has a positive incentive effect on in-office effort proxied by the number of speeches, written declarations and reports drafted. However, more generous remuneration is associated with higher rates of absenteeism. With respect to political selection, we find that higher pay also raises reelection rates. The composition of the pool of MEPs in terms of (ex-ante) quality approximated by formal education, previous political experience in elected office and occupational background is, however, unaffected. If we restrict our attention to newly elected MEPs, a salary increase is related to fewer MEPs with previous political experience at the highest national level.

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Perceived Motives in the Political Arena

David Doherty
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
People care about more than the substance of policy outcomes. They also care about how political decisions are made. In this article, I report findings from national surveys and two survey experiments that shed light on the factors that affect how people attribute motives to politicians. I find that party cues, policy preferences, and other factors affect which motives people see as the most important explanations for a representative's behavior. I also find suggestive evidence that people are not strictly averse to representatives who are motivated by political self-interest. Instead, they appear to be more concerned with the extent to which a representative is motivated by his or her genuinely held preferences and a desire to serve the public. The findings constitute an important step toward understanding how people attribute motives in the political arena and the potential consequences of these judgments about what drives politicians' behavior.

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Political News with a Personal Touch: How Human Interest Framing Indirectly Affects Policy Attitudes

Mark Boukes et al.
Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Journalists increasingly use personal exemplars in news stories about political issues. This study experimentally investigated how such human interest framing indirectly affects political attitudes via the way people attribute responsibility of an issue. Results show that exposure to human interest-framed television news increased attribution of responsibility to the government for the portrayed problem, which in turn decreased support for the government to cut public spending on this issue. This article explains how and why these findings are in line with exemplification theory but run counter to findings of studies on episodic framing effects.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Nanny state

Birth order and educational attainment: Evidence from fully adopted sibling groups

Kieron Barclay
Intelligence, January–February 2015, Pages 109–122

Abstract:
This study uses data on fully adopted sibling groups to test whether the explanation for the consistently observed negative effects of birth order are physiological or social in origin. Swedish administrative register data is used to construct full sibling data for cohorts born 1960–1982. Using a within-family comparison approach, I compare adopted siblings of different adopted birth order to one another to see whether birth order amongst adopted children (N = 6968) is associated with educational attainment by age 30, and the likelihood of having entered tertiary education by age 30. These same within-family comparison analyses are also performed on siblings in fully biologically related sibling groups (N = 1,588,401). I find that there is a negative relationship between adopted birth order and both educational attainment and the likelihood of entering tertiary education in fully adopted sibling sets. These findings strongly suggest that differences in educational attainment by birth order are driven by intrafamily social dynamics. I also conduct additional analyses in fully adopted sibling groups where age order and adoption order are reversed to test whether there is evidence for tutoring by siblings. These results do not indicate clear support for any tutoring effect.

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The reward value of infant facial cuteness tracks within-subject changes in women’s salivary testosterone

Amanda Hahn et al.
Hormones and Behavior, January 2015, Pages 54–59

Abstract:
“Baby schema” refers to infant characteristics, such as facial cues, that positively influence cuteness perceptions and trigger caregiving and protective behaviors in adults. Current models of hormonal regulation of parenting behaviors address how hormones may modulate protective behaviors and nurturance, but not how hormones may modulate responses to infant cuteness. To explore this issue, we investigated possible relationships between the reward value of infant facial cuteness and within-woman changes in testosterone, estradiol, and progesterone levels. Multilevel modeling of these data showed that infant cuteness was more rewarding when women’s salivary testosterone levels were high. Moreover, this within-woman effect of testosterone was independent of the possible effects of estradiol and progesterone and was not simply a consequence of changes in women’s cuteness perceptions. These results suggest that testosterone may modulate differential responses to infant facial cuteness, potentially revealing a new route through which testosterone shapes selective allocation of parental resources.

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Predicting Sibling Investment by Perceived Sibling Resemblance

Sigal Tifferet et al.
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using resemblance cues, people can identify highly related kin and treat them preferentially over less related or unrelated individuals, all else being equal. However, differences in degrees of resemblance can occur even within particular kin categories, such as siblings. We hypothesized that the level of perceived resemblance between siblings will predict sibling investment. Eighty Israeli students who had at least 2 full siblings filled out questionnaires regarding the younger sibling who was nearest to them in age. We found that sibling resemblance was positively associated with sibling investment, with emotional closeness serving as a mediator for the relationship between resemblance and investment. The results support the hypothesis that perceived resemblance to a younger sibling predicts investment in that sibling.

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The Role of Parenting in the Prediction of Criminal Involvement: Findings From a Nationally Representative Sample of Youth and a Sample of Adopted Youth

Kevin Beaver et al.
Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The role of parenting in the development of criminal behavior has been the source of a vast amount of research, with the majority of studies detecting statistically significant associations between dimensions of parenting and measures of criminal involvement. An emerging group of scholars, however, has drawn attention to the methodological limitations—mainly genetic confounding—of the parental socialization literature. The current study addressed this limitation by analyzing a sample of adoptees to assess the association between 8 parenting measures and 4 criminal justice outcome measures. The results revealed very little evidence of parental socialization effects on criminal behavior before controlling for genetic confounding and no evidence of parental socialization effects on criminal involvement after controlling for genetic confounding.

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Long-term follow-up of a randomized trial of family foundations: Effects on children’s emotional, behavioral, and school adjustment

Mark Feinberg et al.
Journal of Family Psychology, December 2014, Pages 821-831

Abstract:
This study examines long-term effects of a transition to parenthood program, Family Foundations, designed to enhance child outcomes through a strategic focus on supporting the coparenting relationship. Roughly 5 to 7 years after baseline (pregnancy), parent and teacher reports of internalizing and externalizing problems and school adjustment were collected by mail for 98 children born to couples enrolled in the randomized trial. Teachers reported significantly lower levels of internalizing problems among children in the intervention group compared with children in the control group and, consistent with prior findings at age 3, lower levels of externalizing problems for boys in the intervention group. Baseline level of observed couple negative communication moderated intervention effects for parent and teacher report of child adjustment and teacher report of school adjustment and adaptation. Effect sizes ranged from 0.40 to 0.98. Results indicate that relatively brief preventive programs for couples at the transition to parenthood have the capacity to promote long-term positive benefits for children’s adjustment. Although we attended to missing data issues in several ways, high levels of attrition in this long-term follow-up study is a cause for caution.

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Children’s Academic Achievement and Foster Care

Lawrence Berger et al.
Pediatrics, January 2015, Pages e109-e116

Background and objectives: Poor school outcomes for children in out-of-home placement (OHP) raise concerns about the adequacy of child welfare and educational policy for this vulnerable population. We analyzed the relation between OHP and academic achievement, focusing on reading and math achievement in grades 3 through 8.

Methods: Linked administrative data were used for our analytic sample comprising 529 597 child-year observations for 222 049 children who experienced OHP or were in a comparison group. Three models were estimated: a pooled ordinary least squares regression that considered placement status and test scores net of the full set of control variables; an identical model that added the previous year’s test scores as an additional control; and a final model that included child-specific fixed effects.

Results: Children in OHP settings had achievement test scores at least 0.6 SD below average. However, we found similar deficits across children with past, current, and future exposure to OHP and, in our preferred model, OHP (past, current, or future placement) had no statistically discernible relation with either reading or math achievement.

Conclusions: OHP by itself is not significantly related to school achievement; however, evidence reveals consistently low average math and reading achievement among children involved with Child Protective Services.

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Community characteristics, conservative ideology, and child abuse rates

Rebekah Breyer & David MacPhee
Child Abuse & Neglect, forthcoming

Abstract:
Authoritarian ideology, including religious conservativism, endorses obedience to authority and physical punishment of children. Although this association has been studied at the level of the family, little research has been conducted on whether conservativism in the broader community context correlates with the mistreatment of children. The purpose of this study was to determine whether this relation between conservativism and physical punishment of children extends to child abuse rates at the community level. Predictors included county-level religious and political conservativism and demographic variables. Political and religious conservativism covaried, and both were inversely related to child abuse rates. Population density was strongly related to rates of maltreatment and with demographic factors controlled, religious conservativism but not political conservativism continued to predict rates of child abuse. The results suggest that community factors related to social disorganization may be more important than religious or political affiliation in putting children at risk for maltreatment.

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Child maltreatment among civilian parents before, during, and after deployment in United States Air Force families

Randy McCarthy et al.
Psychology of Violence, January 2015, Pages 26-34

Objective: To conduct the first population-based study comparing child maltreatment rates perpetrated by civilian parents in military families before, during, and after combat-related deployments.

Method: The sample included children in United States Air Force families who experienced at least 1 child maltreatment incident perpetrated by their civilian parent and whose active-duty parent experienced at least 1 combat-related deployment between October 1, 2001, and October 31, 2008.

Results: During the study period, 2,442 children were involved in 2,879 substantiated child maltreatment incidents perpetrated by the civilian parent. Rates of child maltreatment by civilian parents increased 52% during deployments compared with before the active-duty parent’s first deployment. The overall postdeployment child maltreatment rate was lower than the predeployment and during-deployment maltreatment rates. The large increase in child maltreatment by the civilian parent during deployment compared with predeployment was largely driven by a 124% increase in child neglect.

Conclusion: During combat-related deployments, children are at heightened risk of child neglect perpetrated by their civilian parent. These results suggest a need for focused maltreatment prevention/intervention efforts during this time of increased risk of children being neglected by their civilian parent.

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Public Child Care and Mothers’ Labor Supply — Evidence from Two Quasi-Experiments

Stefan Bauernschuster & Martin Schlotter
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Public child care is expected to assist families in reconciling work with family life. Yet, empirical evidence for the relevance of public child care to maternal employment is inconclusive. We exploit the introduction of a legal claim to a place in kindergarten in Germany, which was contingent on day-of-birth cut-off dates and resulted in a marked increase in kindergarten attendance of three-year olds in the following years. Instrumental variable and difference-in-differences estimations on two individual-level data sets yield positive effects of public child care on maternal employment. A set of placebo treatment tests corroborate the validity of our identification strategies.

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Genotypes do not confer risk for delinquency but rather alter susceptibility to positive and negative environmental factors: Gene-environment interactions of BDNF Val66Met, 5-HTTLPR, and MAOA-uVNTR

Kent Nilsson et al.
International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, forthcoming

Background: Previous evidence of gene-by-environment interactions associated with emotional and behavioral disorders is contradictory. Differences in findings may result from variation in valence and dose of the environmental factor, and/or failure to take account of gene-by-gene interactions. The present study investigated interactions between the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene (BDNF Val66Met), the serotonin transporter gene linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR), the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA-uVNTR) polymorphisms, family conflict, sexual abuse, the quality of the child–parent relationship, and teenage delinquency.

Methods: In 2006, as part of the Survey of Adolescent Life in Västmanland, Sweden, 1337 high-school students, aged 17–18 years, anonymously completed questionnaires and provided saliva samples for DNA analyses.

Results: Teenage delinquency was associated with two-, three-, and four-way interactions of each of the genotypes and the three environmental factors. Significant four-way interactions were found for BDNF Val66Met×5-HTTLPR×MAOA-uVNTR×family conflicts, and for BDNF Val66Met×5-HTTLPR×MAOA-uVNTR×sexual abuse. Further, the two genotype combinations that differed the most in expression levels (BDNF Val66Met Val, 5-HTTLPR LL, MAOA-uVNTR LL (girls) and L (boys) vs BDNF Val66Met Val/Met, 5-HTTLPR S/LS, MAOA-uVNTR S/SS/LS) in interaction with family conflict and sexual abuse were associated with the highest delinquency scores. The genetic variants previously shown to confer vulnerability for delinquency (BDNF Val66Met Val/Met×5-HTTLPR S×MAOA-uVNTR S) were associated with the lowest delinquency scores in interaction with a positive child–parent relationship.

Conclusions: Functional variants of the MAOA-uVNTR, 5-HTTLPR, and BDNF Val66Met, either alone or in interaction with each other, may be best conceptualized as modifying sensitivity to environmental factors that confer either risk or protection for teenage delinquency.

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Material Parenting: How the Use of Goods in Parenting Fosters Materialism in the Next Generation

Marsha Richins & Lan Nguyen Chaplin
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research introduces the concept of material parenting, in which parents use material goods to express their love or to shape children’s behavior. Despite the common use of material goods for these purposes, possible long term effects of material parenting practices have not been studied. This article addresses this oversight by examining the potential effects of material parenting on the material values of children once they’re grown. This research proposes and tests a material parenting pathway, in which warm and supportive parents provide children with material rewards that in the long run foster materialism in adulthood. An insecurity pathway to materialism, previously proposed in the literature, is also examined. Results from three survey studies provide support for both pathways. Results also suggest that material parenting may influence children’s material values by (possibly unintentionally) encouraging them to use possessions to shape and transform the self.

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The Costs of Thinking About Work and Family: Mental Labor, Work–Family Spillover, and Gender Inequality Among Parents in Dual-Earner Families

Shira Offer
Sociological Forum, December 2014, Pages 916–936

Abstract:
One of the aspects unaccounted for in previous assessments of employed parents ‘distribution of time is the mental dimension of tasks and demands. This aspect, referred to as mental labor, is conceptualized as the planning, organization, and management of everyday activities. Using the experience sampling method, a unique form of time diary, and survey data from the 500 Family Study (N = 402 mothers with 16,451 signals and 291 fathers with 11,322 signals), this study examined the prevalence, context, and emotional correlates of mental labor among parents in dual-earner families. Results show that fathers reported thinking more frequently about job-related matters than mothers but these concerns did not spill over into unpaid work. By contrast, mothers’ job-related thoughts tended to spill over into unpaid work and free-time activities. When engaging in mental labor, mothers and fathers were equally likely to think about family matters, but these thoughts were only detrimental to emotional well-being in mothers. Among both mothers and fathers, paid work was relatively insulated from thoughts about family matters. Overall, findings highlight mothers’ double burden and suggest that mental labor may contribute to mothers’ emotional stress and gender inequality among dual-earner families.

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Sleep Deprivation, Low Self-Control, and Delinquency: A Test of the Strength Model of Self-Control

Ryan Meldrum, J.C. Barnes & Carter Hay
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, February 2015, Pages 465-477

Abstract:
Recent work provides evidence that sleep deprivation is positively related to delinquency. In this study, we draw on Baumeister and colleagues’ strength model of self-control to propose an explanation for this association. Specifically, we argue that low self-control is the construct that bridges the relationship between sleep deprivation and delinquency. To test the proposed model, we examine survey data drawn from a longitudinal multi-city cohort study of adolescents who were followed from birth through age 15 (N = 825; 50 % female; 82 % non-Hispanic white, 59 % two-parent nuclear family). The results from regression models using latent factors indicate: sleep deprivation is positively related to low self-control; low self-control is positively related to delinquency; and the relationship between sleep deprivation and delinquency is indirect and operates through low self-control. Impressively, these relationships emerged when accounting for potential background sources of spuriousness, including neighborhood context, depressive symptoms, parenting practices, unstructured socializing with peers, and prior delinquency. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

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The Impact of Sleep Duration on Adolescent Development: A Genetically Informed Analysis of Identical Twin Pairs

J.C. Barnes & Ryan Meldrum
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, February 2015, Pages 489-506

Abstract:
Recent work provides evidence that reduced sleep duration has detrimental effects on a range of developmentally related outcomes during adolescence. Yet, the potential confounding influence of genetic and shared environmental effects has not been sufficiently addressed. This study addresses this issue by analyzing cross-sectional data from the twin sub-sample of the first wave of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health [N ≈ 287 MZ (monozygotic) twin pairs; 50 % male; 22 % Black; mean age = 15.75]. Associations between sleep duration (measured through two different strategies, one tapping number of hours slept at night and the other measuring weeknight bedtimes) and seven outcomes (self-control, depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, body mass index, violent delinquency, non-violent delinquency, and drug use) were estimated. Consistent with prior research, associations between sleep duration and several outcomes were statistically significant when using standard social science analytic methods. Yet, when employing a methodology that accounts for genetic and shared environmental influences, some of these associations were reduced to non-significance. Still, two consistent associations remained in that participants who reported sleeping fewer hours at night (or who reported later bedtimes) exhibited lower levels of self-control and more depressive symptoms. Implications of the findings and directions for future research are discussed.

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A pilot study comparing opaque, weighted bottles with conventional, clear bottles for infant feeding

Alison Ventura & Rebecca Pollack Golen
Appetite, February 2015, Pages 178–184

Abstract:
It is hypothesized that the visual and weight cues afforded by bottle-feeding may lead mothers to overfeed in response to the amount of liquid in the bottle. The aim of the present pilot study was to test this hypothesis by comparing mothers' sensitivity and responsiveness to infant cues and infants' intakes when mothers use opaque, weighted bottles (that remove visual and weight cues) compared to conventional, clear bottles to feed their infants. We also tested the hypothesis that mothers' pressuring feeding style would moderate the effect of bottle type. Formula-feeding dyads (N = 25) visited our laboratory on two separate days. Mothers fed their infants from a clear bottle one day and an opaque, weighted bottle on the other; bottle-order was counterbalanced across the two days. Infant intake was assessed by weighing each bottle before and after the feeding. Maternal sensitivity and responsiveness to infant cues was objectively assessed using the Nursing Child Assessment Feeding Scale. Mothers were significantly more responsive to infant cues when they used opaque compared to clear bottles (p = .04). There was also a trend for infants to consume significantly less formula when fed from opaque compared to clear bottles (p = .08). Mothers' pressuring feeding style moderated the effect of bottle type on maternal responsiveness to infant cues (p = .02) and infant intake (p = .03). Specifically, mothers who reported higher levels of pressuring feeding were significantly more responsive to their infants' cues (p = .02) and fed their infants significantly less formula when using opaque versus clear bottles (p = .01); no differences were seen for mothers who reported lower levels of pressuring feeding. This study highlights a simple, yet effective intervention for improving the bottle-feeding practices of mothers who have pressuring feeding styles.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Enough

Higher Income Is Associated With Less Daily Sadness but not More Daily Happiness

Kostadin Kushlev, Elizabeth Dunn & Richard Lucas
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although extensive previous research has explored the relationship between income and happiness, no large-scale research has ever examined the relationship between income and sadness. Yet, happiness and sadness are distinct emotional states, rather than diametric opposites, and past research points to the possibility that wealth may have a greater impact on sadness than happiness. Using data from a diverse cross section of the U.S. population (N = 12,291), we show that higher income is associated with experiencing less daily sadness, but has no bearing on daily happiness. This pattern of findings could not be explained by relevant demographics, stress, and people’s daily time use. Although causality cannot be inferred from this correlational data set, the present findings point to the possibility that money may be a more effective tool for reducing sadness than enhancing happiness.

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Capital Taxation in the 21st Century

Alan Auerbach & Kevin Hassett
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
In his influential book, Capital in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty argues forcefully that rising wealth and wealth inequality is an inherent characteristic of capitalist economies and calls for strong policy responses, in particular a substantial wealth tax implemented globally. This paper takes issue with the facts, logic, and policy conclusions in Piketty’s book, suggesting that the factors needed to support the inexorable rise in capital’s share and concentration are lacking and that among tax policy reforms aimed at dealing with economic inequality a wealth tax finds little support either in Piketty’s own work or elsewhere in the literature.

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The Rise and Decline of General Laws of Capitalism

Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Thomas Piketty’s (2013) book, Capital in the 21st Century, follows in the tradition of the great classical economists, like Marx and Ricardo, in formulating general laws of capitalism to diagnose and predict the dynamics of inequality. We argue that general economic laws are unhelpful as a guide to understand the past or predict the future, because they ignore the central role of political and economic institutions, as well as the endogenous evolution of technology, in shaping the distribution of resources in society. We use regression evidence to show that the main economic force emphasized in Piketty’s book, the gap between the interest rate and the growth rate, does not appear to explain historical patterns of inequality (especially, the share of income accruing to the upper tail of the distribution). We then use the histories of inequality of South Africa and Sweden to illustrate that inequality dynamics cannot be understood without embedding economic factors in the context of economic and political institutions, and also that the focus on the share of top incomes can give a misleading characterization of the true nature of inequality.

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Income Inequality and Political Polarization: Time Series Evidence Over Nine Decades

John Duca & Jason Saving
Review of Income and Wealth, forthcoming

Abstract:
Rising income inequality and political polarization have led some to hypothesize that the two are causally linked. Properly interpreting such correlations is complicated by multiple factors driving these phenomena, potential feedback between inequality and polarization, measurement issues, and the statistical challenges of modeling non-stationary variables. We find that a more precise measure of inequality (the inverted Pareto–Lorenz coefficient) is more consistently and statistically related to polarization in the short and long runs than the less precise top 1 percent share of income. We find bi-directional causality between polarization and inequality, consistent with theoretical conjecture and less formal evidence in previous studies.

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Household Wealth Trends in the United States, 1962-2013: What Happened over the Great Recession?

Edward Wolff
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Asset prices plunged between 2007 and 2010 but then rebounded from 2010 to 2013. The most telling finding is that median wealth plummeted by 44 percent over years 2007 to 2010, almost double the drop in housing prices. The inequality of net worth, after almost two decades of little movement, was also up sharply. Relative indebtedness expanded, particularly for the middle class, though the proximate causes were declining net worth and income rather than an increase in absolute indebtedness. The sharp fall in median net worth and the rise in overall wealth inequality over these years are traceable primarily to the high leverage of middle class families and the high share of homes in their portfolio. The racial and ethnic disparity in wealth also widened considerably. Households under age 45 saw their relative and absolute wealth declined sharply. Rather remarkably, there was virtually no change in median wealth from 2010 to 2013 despite the rebound in asset prices. The proximate cause was the high dissavings of the middle class, though their debt continued to fall. Wealth inequality and the racial and ethnic wealth gap also remained largely unchanged, though there was some recovery of net worth for young households.

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Religion and inequality: The lasting impact of religious traditions and institutions on welfare state development

Jason Jordan
European Political Science Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
A strong correlation exists between inequality and religion, such that societies marked by high inequality are more religious than those with more egalitarian income distributions. What explains this correlation? Insecurity theory argues that high inequality generates intense insecurities, leading the poor to seek shelter in religion for both psychological and material comfort. This article develops an alternative perspective that reverses the chain of causality. It argues that religious institutions and movements frequently resist both the centralization of state power and socialist efforts to organize the working class. As a result, powerful religious movements constrain state-led efforts to provide social protection, increasing income inequality. Analysis of the historical record and contemporary data from 19 Western democracies reveals strong evidence that past periods of church-state conflict shaped the size and structure of welfare state institutions and, by extension, contemporary patterns of inequality.

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Does Early-Life Income Inequality Predict Self-Reported Health In Later Life? Evidence from the United States

Dean Lillard et al.
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the association between adult health and the income inequality they experienced as children up to 80 years earlier. Our inequality data track shares of national income held by top percentiles from 1913-2009. We average those data over the same early-life years and merge them to individual data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics data for 1984-2009. Controlling for demographic and economic factors, we find both men and women are statistically more likely to report poorer health if income was more unequally distributed during the first years of their lives. The association is robust to alternative specifications of income inequality and time trends and remains significant even when we control for differences in overall childhood health. Our results constitute prima facie evidence that adults’ health may be adversely affected by the income inequality they experienced as children.

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Innovating to Equality: The Egalitarian Distribution of Welfare from the Rise of Consumer Electronics

Charles Chuan He
University of Arizona Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Consumers have benefited from decades of technological improvement in electronics, yet the distribution of their welfare gains are unexamined, despite interest in other measures of inequality. In this paper, I examine the welfare gains to different income cohorts from the development of multiple categories of electronic products. Income dependent preferences are estimated in a dynamic model of demand. Key utility parameters, unique to income cohort, are identified from moments created using micro-level data containing purchase and demographic information. My results suggest that the benefits from the rise of electronics products may be far more egalitarian than conventional measures of inequality. Welfare gains to consumers in the bottom third of the US income distribution average approximately $1,000, while gains to the top third benefit are about $2,500. This is twice as equal as related measures of consumption inequality.

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Economic Freedom and Growth in U.S. State-Level Market Incomes at the Top and Bottom

Travis Wiseman
Mississippi State University Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
This paper investigates the long-run dynamics of economic freedom and income growth across U.S. states over the period 1979 to 2011. Specifically, I examine how the benefits of economic freedom are spread across society by focusing on market income growth for the top 10% and bottom 90% of the income distribution. Results show that increases in overall freedom are associated with larger total average income growth. Also, when viewed separately, an increase in overall freedom is associated with larger income growth for income earners in the bottom 90% relative to the top 10%. These results hold for several specifications using the underlying components of economic freedom, as well as for specifications focused exclusively on low-income states. Additionally, I control for spatial dependence in both income growth and changes in economic freedom using a spatial panel Durbin model with fixed effects.

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Income Inequality and Homicide in the United States: Consistency Across Different Income Inequality Measures and Disaggregated Homicide Types

Aki Roberts & Dale Willits
Homicide Studies, February 2015, Pages 28-57

Abstract:
Choices of inequality measure and homicide type may account for mixed findings on the income inequality–homicide link. We aim to acquaint criminologists with several income inequality measures beyond the familiar Gini index and apply the different measures to general and specific homicide rates, noting the practical effect of these choices on results. The income inequality measures differ in their fidelity to relative deprivation ideas, but still correlated highly with each other in data from 208 large U.S. cities. Multivariate analysis also found that all measures of income inequality had significant and positive associations with both overall and specific homicide rates.

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Building a More Mobile America — One Income Quintile at a Time

Shai Davidai & Thomas Gilovich
Perspectives on Psychological Science, January 2015, Pages 60-71

Abstract:
A core tenet of the American ethos is that there is considerable economic mobility. Americans seem willing to accept vast financial inequalities as long as they believe that everyone has the opportunity to succeed. We examined whether people’s beliefs about the amount of economic mobility in the contemporary United States conform to reality. We found that (a) people believe there is more upward mobility than downward mobility; (b) people overestimate the amount of upward mobility and underestimate the amount of downward mobility; (c) poorer individuals believe there is more mobility than richer individuals; and (d) political affiliation influences perceptions of economic mobility, with conservatives believing that the economic system is more dynamic — with more people moving both up and down the income distribution — than liberals do. We discuss how these findings can shed light on the intensity and nature of political debate in the United States on economic inequality and opportunity.

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Is income inequality persistent? Evidence using panel stationarity tests, 1870–2011

Rabiul Islam & Jakob Madsen
Economics Letters, February 2015, Pages 17–19

Abstract:
Using data on inequality for 21 OECD countries over the period 1870-2011 this paper tests the Piketty hypothesis that income inequality is likely to grow in the 21st century. It is shown that the null hypothesis of trend stationarity of inequality cannot be rejected at conventional significance levels, suggesting that shocks to income inequality are likely to be temporary.

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The Engagement Gap: Social Mobility and Extracurricular Participation among American Youth

Kaisa Snellman et al.
ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, January 2015, Pages 194-207

Abstract:
Participation in extracurricular activities is associated with positive youth outcomes such as higher education attainment and greater future earnings. We present new analyses of four national longitudinal surveys of American high school students that reveal a sharp increase in the class gap in extracurricular involvement. Since the 1970s, upper-middle-class students have become increasingly active in school clubs and sport teams, while participation among working-class students has veered in the opposite direction. These growing gaps have emerged in the wake of rising income inequality, the introduction of “pay to play” programs, and increasing time and money investments by upper-middle-class parents in children’s development. These trends need to be taken into account in any new initiative to monitor mobility. They also present a challenge to the American ideal of equal opportunity insofar as participation in organized activities shapes patterns of social mobility.

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The Informational Content of Surnames, the Evolution of Intergenerational Mobility and Assortative Mating

Maia Güell, José Rodríguez Mora & Christopher Telmer
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We propose a new methodology for measuring intergenerational mobility in economic well-being. Our method is based on the joint distribution of surnames and economic outcomes. It circumvents the need for intergenerational panel data, a long-standing stumbling block for understanding mobility. It does so by using cross-sectional data alongside a calibrated structural model in order to recover the traditional intergenerational elasticity measures. Our main idea is simple. If ‘inheritance’ is important for economic outcomes, then rare surnames should predict economic outcomes in the cross-section. This is because rare surnames are indicative of familial linkages. If the number of rare surnames is small this approach will not work. However, rare surnames are abundant in the highly-skewed nature of surname distributions from most Western societies. We develop a model that articulates this idea and shows that the more important is inheritance, the more informative will be surnames. This result is robust to a variety of different assumptions about fertility and mating. We apply our method using the 2001 census from Catalonia, a large region of Spain. We use educational attainment as a proxy for overall economic well-being. A calibration exercise results in an estimate of the intergenerational correlation of educational attainment of 0.60. We also find evidence suggesting that mobility has decreased among the different generations of the 20th century. A complementary analysis based on sibling correlations confirms our results and provides a robustness check on our method. Our model and our data allow us to examine one possible explanation for the observed decrease in mobility. We find that the degree of assortative mating has increased over time. Overall, we argue that our method has promise because it can tap the vast mines of census data that are available in a heretofore unexploited manner.

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Beyond Education and Fairness: A Labor Market Taxation Model for the Great Gatsby Curve

Lars Lefgren, Frank McIntyre & David Sims
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Applied researchers have been drawn to models that attribute the demonstrated cross-country differences in intergenerational income transmission to government failures to invest in the human capital of poor children. To highlight another potential mechanism, the disincentive effects of labor market taxation and redistribution, we present a simple model that can explain cross-country differences in intergenerational mobility and other previously observed empirical patterns. Empirical tests using data on income mobility, tax rates, and public expenditures largely support the model predictions. We conclude that the common presumption that intergenerational mobility largely measures fairness or opportunity, and the resultant policy recommendations, are premature.

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Globalization and welfare spending across 21 transitional economies

Ting Jiang
International Journal of Comparative Sociology, October 2014, Pages 429-453

Abstract:
This article explores the impact of globalization on welfare spending in transitional states. Based on World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) cross-country data sets 1990–2005, I test two leading hypotheses: the first of which predicts a negative relationship between global-economic embeddedness and welfare spending, and the second of which predicts a positive relationship between democratization and welfare spending. Using a cross-section time-series analysis, my findings suggest that the experiences of the transitional economies do not confirm either hypothesis. During the 16-year period of analysis, established globalization factors showed conflicting influence on welfare state arrangements. In addition, my analyses demonstrate a positive correlation between the use of IMF credit and welfare spending in transitional states. This finding contradicts the structural adjustment literature, which largely views policy-based conditional lending as a negative influence on receiving countries’ welfare expenditures.

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Single-Variable Threshold Effects in Ordered Response Models with an Application to Estimating the Income-Happiness Gradient

Andrew Hodge & Sriram Shankar
Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This short paper extends well-known threshold models to the ordered response setting. We consider the case where the sample is endogenously split to estimate regime-dependent coefficients for one variable of interest, while keeping the other coefficients and auxiliary parameters constant across the threshold. We use Monte Carlo methods to examine the behaviour of the model. In addition we derive the formulae for the partial effects associated with the model. We apply our threshold model to the relationship between income and self-reported happiness using data drawn from the US General Social Survey. While the findings suggest the presence of a threshold in the income-happiness gradient at approximately $US76,000, no evidence is found in support of a satiation point.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Death spin

More Choice In Health Insurance Marketplaces May Reduce The Value Of The Subsidies Available To Low-Income Enrollees

Erin Taylor et al.
Health Affairs, January 2015, Pages 104-110

Abstract:
Federal subsidies available to enrollees in health insurance Marketplaces are pegged to the premium of the second-lowest-cost silver plan available in each rating area (as defined by each state). People who qualify for the subsidy contribute a percentage of their income to purchase coverage, and the federal government covers the remaining cost up to the price of that premium. Because the number of plans offered and plan premiums vary substantially across rating areas, the effective value of the subsidy may vary geographically. We found that the availability of more plans in a rating area was associated with lower premiums but higher deductibles for enrollees in the second-lowest-cost silver plan. In rating areas with more than twenty plans, the average deductible in the second-lowest-cost silver plan was nearly $1,000 higher than it was in rating areas with fewer than thirteen plans. Because premium costs for second-lowest-cost silver plans are capped, deductibles may be a more salient measure of plan value for enrollees than premiums are. Greater standardization of plans or an alternative approach to calculating the subsidy could provide a more consistent benefit to enrollees across various rating areas.

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Medicaid as an Investment in Children: What is the Long-Term Impact on Tax Receipts?

David Brown, Amanda Kowalski & Ithai Lurie
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
We examine the long-term impact of expansions to Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program that occurred in the 1980's and 1990's. With administrative data from the IRS, we calculate longitudinal health insurance eligibility from birth to age 18 for children in cohorts affected by these expansions, and we observe their longitudinal outcomes as adults. Using a simulated instrument that relies on variation in eligibility by cohort and state, we find that children whose eligibility increased paid more in cumulative taxes by age 28. These children collected less in EITC payments, and the women had higher cumulative wages by age 28. Incorporating additional data from the Medicaid Statistical Information System (MSIS), we find that the government spent $872 in 2011 dollars for each additional year of Medicaid eligibility induced by the expansions. Putting this together with the estimated increase in tax payments discounted at a 3% rate, assuming that tax impacts are persistent in percentage terms, the government will recoup 56 cents of each dollar spent on childhood Medicaid by the time these children reach age 60. This return on investment does not take into account other benefits that accrue directly to the children, including estimated decreases in mortality and increases in college attendance. Moreover, using the MSIS data, we find that each additional year of Medicaid eligibility from birth to age 18 results in approximately 0.58 additional years of Medicaid receipt. Therefore, if we scale our results by the ratio of beneficiaries to eligibles, then all of our results are almost twice as large.

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Regulator Leniency and Mispricing in Beneficent Nonprofits

Jonas Heese, Ranjani Krishnan & Frank Moers
Harvard Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
We posit that nonprofits that provide a greater supply of unprofitable services (beneficent nonprofits) face lenient regulatory enforcement for mispricing in price-regulated markets. Consequently, beneficent nonprofits exploit such regulatory leniency and exhibit higher mispricing. Drawing on organizational legitimacy theory, we argue that both regulators and beneficent nonprofits seek to protect their legitimacy with stakeholders, including those who demand access to unprofitable services. Using data from hospitals, we examine mispricing via “upcoding”, which involves misclassifying ailment severity. Archival analysis indicates less stringent regulatory enforcement of upcoding for beneficent nonprofit hospitals, defined as hospitals that provide higher charity care and medical education. After observing regulator leniency, beneficent hospitals demonstrate higher upcoding. Our results suggest that lenient enforcement assists beneficent nonprofits to obtain higher revenues in price-regulated markets.

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The Impact of Pharmaceutical Innovation on Disability Days and the Use of Medical Services in the United States, 1997–2010

Frank Lichtenberg
Journal of Human Capital, Winter 2014, Pages 432-480

Abstract:
I investigate whether diseases subject to more rapid pharmaceutical innovation experienced greater declines in Americans’ disability days and use of medical services during the period 1997–2010, controlling for several other factors, using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The mean number of work loss days, school loss days, and hospital admissions declined more rapidly among medical conditions with larger increases in the mean number of new (post-1990) prescription drugs consumed. The value of reductions in work loss days and hospital admissions attributable to pharmaceutical innovation is estimated to be three times as large as the cost of new drugs consumed.

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Pricing in the Market for Anticancer Drugs

David Howard et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Drugs like bevacizumab ($50,000 per treatment episode) and ipilimumab ($120,000 per episode) have fueled the perception that the launch prices of anticancer drugs are increasing over time. Using an original dataset of 58 anticancer drugs approved between 1995 and 2013, we find that launch prices, adjusted for inflation and drugs’ survival benefits, increased by 10%, or about $8,500, per year. Although physicians are not penalized for prescribing costly drugs, they may be reluctant to prescribe drugs with prices that exceed subjective standards of fairness. Manufacturers may set higher launch prices over time as standards evolve. Pricing trends may also reflect manufacturers’ response to expansions in the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which requires manufacturers to provide steep discounts to eligible providers.

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An Early Look At Changes In Employer-Sponsored Insurance Under The Affordable Care Act

Fredric Blavin et al.
Health Affairs, January 2015, Pages 170-177

Abstract:
Critics frequently characterize the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a threat to the survival of employer-sponsored insurance. The Medicaid expansion and Marketplace subsidies could adversely affect employers’ incentives to offer health insurance and workers’ incentives to take up such offers. This article takes advantage of timely data from the Health Reform Monitoring Survey for June 2013 through September 2014 to examine, from the perspective of workers, early changes in offer, take-up, and coverage rates for employer-sponsored insurance under the ACA. We found no evidence that any of these rates have declined under the ACA. They have, in fact, remained constant: around 82 percent, 86 percent, and 71 percent, respectively, for all workers and around 63 percent, 71 percent, and 45 percent, respectively, for low-income workers. To date, the ACA has had no effect on employer coverage. Economic incentives for workers to obtain coverage from employers remain strong.

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Physician Responses to Rising Local Unemployment Rates: Healthcare Provision to Medicare and Privately-Insured Patients

Daifeng He, Melissa McInerney & Jennifer Mellor
Journal of Health Economics, March 2015, Pages 97–108

Abstract:
Prior studies suggest that hospital care is countercyclical among Medicare beneficiaries, and if anything, procyclical among the non-elderly. In this paper, we provide the first physician-level analysis of changes in healthcare provision to Medicare and privately-insured patients across the business cycle. Using Florida discharge data aggregated to the physician level, we find that as county unemployment rates increase, physicians treat fewer privately-insured patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings. In contrast, physicians who are more exposed to income losses during recessions provide more care to Medicare patients as the unemployment rate rises. Further analysis suggests that easing capacity constraints may contribute to this rise in Medicare volume; however, even in areas that are not capacity constrained, care provided to Medicare patients remains countercyclical among physicians with a large share of privately-insured patients. This pattern is consistent with demand inducement in response to a negative income shock.

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Sources of Geographic Variation in Health Care: Evidence from Patient Migration

Amy Finkelstein, Matthew Gentzkow & Heidi Williams
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We study the drivers of geographic variation in US health care utilization, using an empirical strategy that exploits migration of Medicare patients to separate the role of demand and supply factors. Our approach allows us to account for demand differences driven by both observable and unobservable patient characteristics. We find that 40-50 percent of geographic variation in utilization is attributable to patient demand, with the remainder due to place-specific supply factors. Demand variation does not appear to result from differences in past experiences, and is explained to a significant degree by differences in patient health.

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A Randomized Experiment of the Split Benefit Health Insurance Reform to Reduce High-Cost, Low-Value Consumption

Christopher Robertson et al.
University of Arizona Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Traditional cost sharing for health care is stymied by limited patient wealth. The “split benefit” is a new way to reduce consumption of high-cost, low-value treatments for which the risk/benefit ratio is uncertain. When a physician prescribes a costly unproven procedure, the insurer could pay a portion of the benefit directly to the patient, creating a decision opportunity for the patient. The insurer saves the remainder, unless the patient consumes. In this paper, a vignette-based randomized controlled experiment with 1,800 respondents sought to test the potential efficacy of the split benefit. The intervention reduced the odds of consumption by about half. It did so regardless of scenario (cancer or cardiac stent), type of split (rebate, prepay, or health savings account), or amount of split (US$5,000 or US$15,000). Respondents viewed the insurer that paid a split as behaving fairly, as it preserved access and choice. Three-quarters of respondents supported such use in Medicare, which did not depend on political party affiliation. The reform is promising for further testing since it has the potential to decrease spending on low-value interventions, and thereby increase the value of the health care dollar.

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Can Private Insurers Fail to Cream-Skim the Public Option? Evidence from the Individual Mandate in Germany

Maria Polyakova
Stanford Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Conventional wisdom suggests that if private health insurance plans compete alongside a public option, they may endanger the latter's financial stability by cream-skimming good risks. Documenting cream-skimming in dual insurance systems empirically is challenging, since selection into private insurance is non-random and being privately insured may change individual's healthcare consumption. In this paper, I use a regression discontinuity design based on exogenous variation in the propensity of choosing private health insurance to address this challenge. The empirical setting is the health insurance system in Germany, where there exists an unsubsidized non-group for-profit private health insurance market in parallel to a statutory alternative. Federal regulation mandates individuals with income below an annually set threshold to enroll into the statutory system, which is a policy that I exploit for my empirical strategy. Surprisingly, the data does not corroborate the conventional wisdom about selection on the extensive margin, as I do not find compelling support for cream-skimming by private insurers. Using a discrete choice model of demand for private insurance, I explore heterogeneous tastes for convenience in healthcare consumption and long-term contract design of private insurers as potential explanations for this result.

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The Effect of Closure on Quality: The Case of Rural Nursing Homes

John Bowblis & Andrew Vassallo
Journal of Competition Law & Economics, December 2014, Pages 909-931

Abstract:
Understanding the role of competition in determining prices and quality is important in evaluating various public policies, including any antitrust investigation of a proposed merger. This is especially true in health-care markets where consumers are less informed than providers and standard mechanisms such as warranties cannot protect consumers against inferior products. This article examines how market structure affects the quality of care provided in a health-care market by examining the nursing home industry. We empirically test if quality is affected by a change in market structure that arises when a competitor exits the market. Using a sample of rural nursing homes that have a competitor exit and also experience no entry from new competitors, the effect of market structure is identified using a difference-in-differences approach that compares facilities that are within the same geographic market as the exiting facility to a group of facilities outside that geographic market. We find that total staffing levels are lower after the closure after adjusting for transitory effects. All non-staffing quality measures show improvement after the closure, although not all are found to be statistically significant. This suggests supracompetitive markets with excess capacity may actually have lower levels of quality than more concentrated markets.

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Effect of Expanding Medicaid for Parents on Children’s Health Insurance Coverage: Lessons From the Oregon Experiment

Jennifer DeVoe et al.
JAMA Pediatrics, January 2015, e143145

Objective: To estimate the effect on a child’s health insurance coverage status when (1) a parent randomly gains access to health insurance and (2) a parent obtains coverage.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Oregon Experiment randomized natural experiment assessing the results of Oregon’s 2008 Medicaid expansion. We used generalized estimating equation models to examine the longitudinal effect of a parent randomly selected to apply for Medicaid on their child’s Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage (intent-to-treat analyses). We used per-protocol analyses to understand the impact on children’s coverage when a parent was randomly selected to apply for and obtained Medicaid. Participants included 14 409 children aged 2 to 18 years whose parents participated in the Oregon Experiment.

Results: In the immediate period after selection, children whose parents were selected to apply significantly increased from 3830 (61.4%) to 4152 (66.6%) compared with a nonsignificant change from 5049 (61.8%) to 5044 (61.7%) for children whose parents were not selected to apply. Children whose parents were randomly selected to apply for Medicaid had 18% higher odds of being covered in the first 6 months after parent’s selection compared with children whose parents were not selected (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.18; 95% CI, 1.10-1.27). The effect remained significant during months 7 to 12 (AOR = 1.11; 95% CI, 1.03-1.19); months 13 to 18 showed a positive but not significant effect (AOR = 1.07; 95% CI, 0.99-1.14). Children whose parents were selected and obtained coverage had more than double the odds of having coverage compared with children whose parents were not selected and did not gain coverage (AOR = 2.37; 95% CI, 2.14-2.64).

Conclusions and Relevance: Children’s odds of having Medicaid or CHIP coverage increased when their parents were randomly selected to apply for Medicaid. Children whose parents were selected and subsequently obtained coverage benefited most. This study demonstrates a causal link between parents’ access to Medicaid coverage and their children’s coverage.

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Medicare’s Hospital Compare Quality Reports Appear To Have Slowed Price Increases For Two Major Procedures

Avi Dor, William Encinosa & Kathleen Carey
Health Affairs, January 2015, Pages 71-77

Abstract:
Previous research has found that Hospital Compare, Medicare’s public reporting initiative, has had little impact on patient outcomes. However, little is known about the initiative’s impact on hospital prices, which may be significant because private insurers are generally well positioned to respond to quality information when negotiating prices with hospitals. We estimated difference-in-differences models of the effects of Hospital Compare quality reporting on transaction prices for two major cardiac procedures, coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). States that had mandated their own public reporting systems before the implementation of Hospital Compare formed the control group. We found that prices for these procedures continued to increase overall after the initiation of Hospital Compare quality scores, but the rate of increase was significantly lower in states with no quality reporting metrics of their own before Hospital Compare, when compared to the control states (annual rates of increase of 4.4 percent versus 8.7 percent for PCI, and 3.9 percent versus 10.6 percent for CABG, adjusted for overall inflation). This finding implies that Hospital Compare provided leverage to purchasers in moderating price increases, while adding competitive pressures on hospitals. Providing accurate quality information on both hospitals and health plans could benefit consumers.

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Can Health Insurance Competition Work? Evidence from Medicare Advantage

Vilsa Curto et al.
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We estimate the economic surplus created by Medicare Advantage under its reformed competitive bidding rules. We use data on the universe of Medicare beneficiaries, and develop a model of plan bidding that accounts for both market power and risk selection. We find that private plans have costs around 12% below fee-for-service costs, and generate around $50 dollars in surplus on average per enrollee-month, after accounting for the disutility due to enrollees having more limited choice of providers. Taxpayers provide a large additional subsidy, and insurers capture most of the private gains. We use the model to evaluate possible program changes.

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Medicare and Private Spending Trends From 2008 to 2012 Diverge in Texas

Luisa Franzini et al.
Medical Care Research and Review, February 2015, Pages 96-112

Abstract:
The recent relatively slow growth in health care spending masks significant differences among payers, clinical settings, and geographic areas. To better understand the spending slowdown, we focus on 2008-2012 trends in Texas among Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries and enrollees in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX). Spending per person for Medicare grew only 1.5% per year on average, compared with 5.2% for BCBSTX. In Medicare, utilization rates were relatively flat, while prices grew more slowly than input prices. In BCBSTX, spending growth was driven by increases in negotiated prices, in particular hospital prices. We find that geographic variation declined sharply in Medicare, due to drops in spending on post–acute care in two notoriously high-spending regions but rose slightly in BCBSTX. The aggregate spending trends mask two divergent stories: spending growth in Medicare is very slow, but price increases continue to drive unsustainable spending growth among the privately insured.

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The Impact of Non-Economic Damages Caps on Obstetrics: Incentives versus Practice Style

Anca Cotet-Grecu
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper uses 1989-2010 county-level data to reexamine the effect of non-economic damages caps on the field of obstetrics. Previous literature found that caps on damages lead to both changes in the number of physicians and changes in treatment patterns. This paper investigates whether the changes in procedures are attributable to changes in incentives or to selection when new entrants could have a different practice style than incumbents. First, I find that the relationship between non-economic damages caps and the number of physicians and procedures identified in previous literature is not robust to the inclusion of the newer policy changes. Second, over the period when such changes were observed, the impact on procedures is concentrated in areas with the greatest changes in the number of obstetricians/gynecologists per capita, suggesting that most of the effect on procedures is driven by differences in practice style between entrants and incumbents.

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Insurance Crisis or Liability Crisis? Medical Malpractice Claiming in Illinois, 1980-2010

David Hyman
University of Illinois Working Paper, November 2014

Abstract:
Four times in the last four decades, Illinois has enacted tort reform limiting medical malpractice (“med mal”) suits – each time in response to complaints about a crisis in med mal premiums. Using a previously unavailable database maintained by the Illinois Department of Insurance, we analyze statewide trends in med mal claiming from 1980-2010, covering three of the four crises. The total direct cost of Illinois’ med mal system has never exceeded 1% of health care spending, and that figure has declined steadily since 1992. Paid claim rates rose sharply from 1980-1985, roughly leveled off from 1986-1993, and then experienced a sustained decline. By 2010, paid claims rates were 75% lower than in the peak year (1991). Mean and median payout per claim has steadily increased since 1980, but these increases are largely attributable to the disappearance of smaller claims involving less severe injuries. We find no evidence that Cook, Madison and St. Clair counties are “judicial hellholes.” To summarize, of the three med mal insurance crises during our sample period, only the first coincided with a major change in med mal liability risk.

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Public Health Insurance and Disparate Eligibility of Spouses: The Medicare Eligibility Gap

Allison Witman
Journal of Health Economics, March 2015, Pages 10–25

Abstract:
I exploit the age-based eligibility structure of Medicare and the age gap between spouses to examine the impact of Medicare eligibility of an older spouse on the insurance coverage of younger, Medicare-ineligible spouses. Using a regression discontinuity framework, I find that Medicare eligibility of an older spouse can crowd-out the health insurance coverage of a younger spouse. Medicare eligibility of older wives increases the likelihood that younger husbands are uninsured. Younger wives are less likely to be covered through an employer-based plan and more likely to have non-group coverage after an older husband turns 65.

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Trends in State Regulation of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants, 2001 to 2010

Emily Gadbois et al.
Medical Care Research and Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can alleviate some of the primary care shortage facing the United States, but their scope-of-practice is limited by state regulation. This study reports both cross-sectional and longitudinal trends in state scope-of-practice regulations for nurse practitioners and physician assistants over a 10-year period. Regulations from 2001 to 2010 were compiled and described with respect to entry-to-practice standards, physician involvement in treatment/diagnosis, prescriptive authority, and controlled substances. Findings indicate that most states loosened regulations, granting greater autonomy to nurse practitioners and physician assistants, particularly with respect to prescriptive authority and physician involvement in treatment and diagnosis. Many states also increased barriers to entry, requiring high levels of education before entering practice. Knowledge of state trends in nurse practitioner and physician assistant regulation should inform current efforts to standardize scope-of-practice nationally.

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California’s Hospital Fair Pricing Act Reduced The Prices Actually Paid By Uninsured Patients

Ge Bai
Health Affairs, January 2015, Pages 64-70

Abstract:
California’s Hospital Fair Pricing Act, passed in 2006, aims to protect uninsured patients from paying hospital gross charges: the full, undiscounted prices based on each hospital’s chargemaster. In this study I examined how the law affects the net price actually paid by uninsured patients — a question critical for evaluating the law’s impact. I found that from 2004 to 2012 the net price actually paid by uninsured patients shrank from 6 percent higher than Medicare prices to 68 percent lower than Medicare prices; the adjusted collection ratio, essentially the amount the hospital actually collected for every dollar in gross price charged, for uninsured patients dropped from 32 percent to 11 percent; and although hospitals have been increasingly less able to generate revenues from uninsured patients, they have raised the proportion of services provided to them in relation to total services provided to all patients. The substantial protection provided to uninsured patients by the California Hospital Fair Pricing Act has important implications for federal and state policy makers seeking to achieve a similar goal. States or Congress could legislate criteria determining the eligibility for discounted charges, mandate a lower price ceiling, and regulate for-profit hospitals in regard to uninsured patients.

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Spillovers from health insurance to the US underground economy

Rajeev Goel & James Saunoris
Applied Economics Letters, Spring 2015, Pages 474-482

Abstract:
Employing recent data on the prevalence of the underground economy across states in the United States, this article uniquely studies the nexus between health insurance coverage and the underground economy. We find a positive effect of health insurance coverage on the spread of the underground sector. Upon disaggregation, while private health coverage promotes the underground sector, government health insurance has the opposite effect.

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Health Insurance, Health Savings Accounts and Healthcare Utilization

Richard Peter, Sebastian Soika & Petra Steinorth
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Assuming symmetric information, we show that a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) combined with a tax-favored health savings account (HSA) induces more savings and less treatment compared with a full coverage plan under reasonable risk preferences. Furthermore, a higher tax subsidy increases savings in any case but decreases medical utilization if and only if treatment expenses are above the deductible. A larger deductible increases savings but does not necessarily decrease healthcare utilization. Whether an HDHP/HSA combination is preferred over a full coverage contract depends on absolute risk aversion. A higher tax advantage increases the attractiveness of an HDHP/HSA combination, whereas the effects of changes in the deductible are ambiguous. The paper shows that a potential regulator needs to carefully set the size of the deductible as only in a certain corridor of the probability of sickness, its effect on aggregate healthcare costs are unambiguously favorable.

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Medicare Annual Preventive Care Visits: Use Increased Among Fee-For-Service Patients, But Many Do Not Participate

Sukyung Chung et al.
Health Affairs, January 2015, Pages 11-20

Abstract:
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicare coverage expanded in 2011 to fully cover annual preventive care visits. We assessed the impact of coverage expansion, using 2007–13 data from primary care patients of Medicare-eligible age at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (204,388 patient-years), which serves people in four counties near San Francisco, California. We compared trends in preventive visits and recommended preventive services among Medicare fee-for-service and Medicare health maintenance organization (HMO) patients as well as non-Medicare patients ages 65–75 who were covered by private fee-for-service and private HMO plans. Among Medicare fee-for-service patients, the annual use of preventive visits rose from 1.4 percent before the implementation of the ACA to 27.5 percent afterward. This increase was significantly larger than was seen for patients in the other insurance groups. Nevertheless, rates of annual preventive care visit use among Medicare fee-for-service patients remained 10–20 percentage points lower than was the case for people with private coverage (43–44 percent) or those in a Medicare HMO (53 percent). ACA policy changes led to increased preventive service use by Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries, which suggests that Medicare coverage expansion is an effective way to increase seniors’ use of preventive services.

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Medicaid Expansions for the Working Age Disabled: Revisiting the Crowd-out of Private Health Insurance

Kathryn Wagner
Journal of Health Economics, March 2015, Pages 69–82

Abstract:
Disabled individuals under 65 years old account for 15% of Medicaid recipients but half of all Medicaid spending. Despite their large cost, few studies have investigated the effects of Medicaid expansions for disabled individuals on insurance coverage and crowd-out of private insurance. Using an eligibility expansion that allowed states to provide Medicaid to disabled individuals with incomes less than 100% of the federal poverty level, I address these issues. Crowd-out estimates range from 49% using an ordinary least squares procedure to 100% using two-stage least-squares analysis. This potentially large degree of crowd-out could have fiscal implications for the Affordable Care Act which has greatly expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2014.

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The relationship between altruistic attitudes and dentists’ Medicaid participation

Susan McKernan et al.
Journal of the American Dental Association, January 2015, Pages 34–41

Background: The authors investigated the role of private practitioners in the dental safety net, including the provision of care for Medicaid enrollees and attitudinal factors that affect participation.

Methods: In 2013, the authors sent a mixed-mode survey to all general dentists in Iowa assessing their current Medicaid participation and factors affecting participation, including attitudinal statements about altruism, the Medicaid program, and the government’s role in providing access to dental care.

Results: Fifty-six percent of responding dentists accepted new Medicaid-enrolled patients; dentists living in nonmetropolitan areas were significantly more likely to accept Medicaid than were those in metropolitan areas. Results from a logistic regression model demonstrated that participating dentists scored significantly higher in altruistic attitudes and perceived problems with Medicaid as less important.

Conclusions: Dentists who accepted Medicaid-enrolled patients had significantly more positive attitudes about Medicaid administration and altruistic attitudes in general. Investigators in future studies should examine how these attitudes are shaped by educational and professional experiences.

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The Association of Longitudinal and Interpersonal Continuity of Care with Emergency Department Use, Hospitalization, and Mortality among Medicare Beneficiaries

Suzanne Bentler et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2014

Background: Continuity of medical care is widely believed to lead to better health outcomes and service utilization patterns for patients. Most continuity studies, however, have only used administrative claims to assess longitudinal continuity with a provider. As a result, little is known about how interpersonal continuity (the patient's experience at the visit) relates to improved health outcomes and service use.

Methods: We linked claims-based longitudinal continuity and survey-based self-reported interpersonal continuity indicators for 1,219 Medicare beneficiaries who completed the National Health and Health Services Use Questionnaire. With these linked data, we prospectively evaluated the effect of both types of continuity of care indicators on emergency department use, hospitalization, and mortality over a five-year period.

Results: Patient-reported continuity was associated with reduced emergency department use, preventable hospitalization, and mortality. Most of the claims-based measures, including those most frequently used to assess continuity, were not associated with reduced utilization or mortality.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that the patient- and claims-based indicators of continuity have very different effects on these important health outcomes, suggesting that reform efforts must include the patient-provider experience when evaluating health care quality.

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Colorectal Cancer Screening and State Health Insurance Mandates

Mary Hamman & Kandice Kapinos
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most deadly cancer in the USA. CRC screening is the most effective way to prevent CRC death, but compliance with recommended screenings is very low. In this study, we investigate whether CRC screening behavior changed under state mandated private insurance coverage of CRC screening in a sample of insured adults from the 1997 to 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS). We present difference-in-difference-in-differences (DDD) estimates that compare insured individuals age 51 to 64 to Medicare age-eligible individuals (ages 66 to 75) in mandate and non-mandate states over time. Our DDD estimates suggest endoscopic screening among men increased by 2 to 3 percentage points under mandated coverage among 51 to 64 year olds relative to their Medicare age-eligible counterparts. We find no clear evidence of changes in screening behavior among women. DD estimates suggest no evidence of a mandate effect on either type of CRC screening for men or women.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, January 19, 2015

Outside the box

The Changing Misrepresentation of Race and Crime on Network and Cable News

Travis Dixon & Charlotte Williams
Journal of Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
Prior research found that stereotypical media content shapes the perception of racial groups and social policy. Using the UCLA Communication Studies Digital News Archive, we sampled 146 cable and network news programs aired between 2008 and 2012. Findings revealed that Blacks were actually “invisible” on network news, being underrepresented as both violent perpetrators and victims of crime. However, Whites were accurately represented as criminals. Moreover, Latinos were greatly overrepresented as undocumented immigrants while Muslims were greatly overrepresented as terrorists on network and cable news programs. The implications of these findings are contextualized using the “guard dog” media coverage theory, structural limitations/economic interest of media, ethnic blame discourse, and the community philanthropy perspective.

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Exposure to Racial Out-Groups and Implicit Race Bias in the United States

James Rae, Anna-Kaisa Newheiser & Kristina Olson
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The industrialized world is becoming more ethnically diverse. Research in several disciplines has suggested that exposure to racial out-groups may be associated with more positive and more negative intergroup attitudes. Given that U.S. states are often at the center of debate regarding diversity-related public policy, we examined how exposure to out-groups is associated with state-level implicit and explicit race bias among White and Black Americans. We found that larger proportions of Black residents across U.S. states were associated with stronger implicit and explicit in-group bias among both White and Black respondents. State-level bias was predicted by proportions of Black residents even when controlling for (a) state-level demographic control variables (e.g., median income), (b) proportions of non-Black minorities, and (c) historical membership in the Confederacy. Our results convey the importance of investigating why diversity may not always have the positive impact on intergroup relations that one might hope it to have.

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Perceiving a Presidency in Black (and White): Four Years Later

Sarah Gaither, Leigh Wilton & Danielle Young
Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, December 2014, Pages 7–21

Abstract:
When Barack Obama became the “first Black President” of the United States in 2008, researchers examined how his election impacted Americans’ views of racial progress. When he was reelected in 2012, the minority status of the president had become less novel. In the present study, we investigated whether perceptions concerning racial progress varied: (1) before and after President Obama's reelection; (2) by whether President Obama was labeled as biracial or Black; and (3) among White and Black individuals. We replicated past findings to demonstrate that after Obama's reelection, White participants reported that our country had made racial progress and decreased their support for equality programs (e.g., affirmative action). Our results also revealed that labeling President Obama as either biracial or Black did not affect views of racial progress. Additionally, Black participants categorized President Obama as Black more than White participants, while White participants categorized President Obama as White more than Black participants. We discuss these results in terms of the impacts of racial beliefs that stem from exposure to a minority leader.

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Implicit Attitude Generalization From Black to Black–White Biracial Group Members

Jacqueline Chen & Kate Ratliff
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigated whether Black–White biracial individuals are perceived as Black in the domain of evaluation. Previous research has documented that White perceivers’ negative evaluation of one Black person leads to a negative implicit evaluation of another Black person belonging to the same minimal group. We built upon this out-group transfer effect by investigating whether perceivers also transferred negative implicit attitudes from one Black person to a novel Black–White biracial person. In three experiments, participants learned about a Black individual who performed undesirable behaviors and were then introduced to a new group member. White perceivers formed negative attitudes toward the original individual and transferred these attitudes to the new group member if she was Black or Biracial, but not if she was White (Experiment 1) or Asian (Experiment 2). Experiment 3 demonstrated that only White participants exhibited transfer to the new Black and Biracial group members; Black participants did not.

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Bilingualism changes children's beliefs about what is innate

Krista Byers-Heinlein & Bianca Garcia
Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Young children engage in essentialist reasoning about natural kinds, believing that many traits are innately determined. This study investigated whether personal experience with second language acquisition could alter children's essentialist biases. In a switched-at-birth paradigm, 5- and 6-year-old monolingual and simultaneous bilingual children expected that a baby's native language, an animal's vocalizations, and an animal's physical traits would match those of a birth rather than of an adoptive parent. We predicted that sequential bilingual children, who had been exposed to a new language after age 3, would show greater understanding that languages are learned. Surprisingly, sequential bilinguals showed reduced essentialist beliefs about all traits: they were significantly more likely than other children to believe that human language, animal vocalizations, and animal physical traits would be learned through experience rather than innately endowed. These findings suggest that bilingualism in the preschool years can profoundly change children's essentialist biases.

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Exposure to Racial Ambiguity Influences Lay Theories of Race

Diana Sanchez, Danielle Young & Kristin Pauker
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Biological lay theories of race have proven to have pernicious consequences for interracial relations, yet few studies have examined how intergroup contact itself (particularly with those who naturalistically challenge these conceptions) affects beliefs about race. Three studies (a correlational study, an interaction study, and an experimental study) examine whether exposure to racially ambiguous individuals reduces Whites’ biological lay theories of race across time. Study 1 demonstrates that increased exposure to racial ambiguity across 2 weeks reduced White individuals’ biological lay theories. Study 2 shows that Whites who interacted in a laboratory setting with a racially ambiguous individual were less likely to endorse biological lay theories, an effect that sustained for 2 weeks. Study 3 finds that the reduction in biological lay theories after exposure to racial ambiguity is mediated by the tendency for Whites’ lay theories of race to conform to beliefs they presume racially ambiguous individuals hold.

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Gendered Facial Cues Influence Race Categorizations

Colleen Carpinella et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Race and gender categories, although long presumed to be perceived independently, are inextricably tethered in social perception due in part to natural confounding of phenotypic cues. We predicted that target gender would affect race categorizations. Consistent with this hypothesis, feminine faces compelled White categorizations, and masculine faces compelled Asian or Black categorizations of racially ambiguous targets (Study 1), monoracial targets (Study 2), and real facial photographs (Study 3). The efficiency of judgments varied concomitantly. White categorizations were rendered more rapidly for feminine, relative to masculine faces, but the opposite was true for Asian and Black categorizations (Studies 1-3). Moreover, the effect of gender on categorization efficiency was compelled by racial phenotypicality for Black targets (Study 3). Finally, when targets’ race prototypicality was held constant, gender still influenced race categorizations (Study 4). These findings indicate that race categorizations are biased by presumably unrelated gender cues.

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Shopping While Nonwhite: Racial Discrimination among Minority Consumers

Aronté Marie Bennett, Ronald Paul Hill & Kara Daddario
Journal of Consumer Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
“Shopping While Black” refers to negative experiences that African American consumers endure in the marketplace. The term was coined before the turn of the century and the tabulation of the 2000 census. However, this term may be antiquated — not because African Americans no longer have disparate consumer experiences, but because these experiences impact all American minorities. This study examines the prevalence of racially motivated discriminatory experiences across consumer contexts. Specifically, it offers an empirical look at ways that racial minorities believe they are treated in a variety of consumption environments. Results show that minority groups experience similar levels of perceived discrimination: Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans are as frequently victims of marketplace discrimination as are African Americans. Interestingly, these shared experiences do not necessarily translate into similar beliefs in the continued existence of discrimination as a derogatory force for American minority consumers.

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Face Recognition in the Presence of Angry Expressions: A Target-Race Effect Rather than a Cross-Race Effect

Jason Gwinn, Jamie Barden & Charles Judd
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2015, Pages 1–10

Abstract:
Perceivers usually recognize the faces of members of their own racial group more accurately than the faces of other races --- a difference which is called the Cross-Race Effect (CRE). When showing this effect, research has typically used facial stimuli with neutral emotional expressions. A few studies have examined the effect with faces showing angry expressions (Ackerman et al. 2006; Krumhuber & Manstead, 2011; Young & Hugenberg, 2012), and these have generally shown enhanced recognition of outgroup angry faces, an effect that Ackerman et al. (2006) attributed to greater attention paid to threatening outgroup members. However, these studies suffer from stimulus confounds, in that the Black angry faces were particularly unusual, as revealed in our pretest data. Additionally, only White participants were used in these studies, raising the question of whether the reported effects are truly ingroup-outgroup effects. Reported here are two studies, using first White and then Black participants, that used a novel stimulus set that avoided earlier confounds. Participants studied and later attempted to recognize White and Black faces, varying in their emotional expression (angry versus neutral) both at encoding and testing. Both experiments showed a pro-ingroup CRE. However, contrary to prior research, both participant races had relatively more difficulty recognizing angry Black faces, such that when the faces were angry, the pro-ingroup CRE was strengthened for White participants and weakened for Black participants. We discuss theoretical explanations for these results which substantially qualify past conclusions about the role of facial emotions in cross-race facial recognition.

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Color-Blind and Color-Visible Identity Among American Whites

Monica McDermott
American Behavioral Scientist, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many signs point to the contemporary period as a color-blind era, one in which Whites purport to be unaware of race in social or political life. At the same time, White ethnic and racial identity continues to be measured in official government statistics such as the decennial U.S. Census and the annual American Community Survey (ACS). To adjudicate between the two, the ACS ancestry question response can be used not just as a means to measure the actual size of national origin populations but can also be a way to understand what it means to be “White” in an era of color blindness and optional ethnicity. White identities can provide the mechanisms by which color-blind ideologies are understood and expressed. Whites whose primary identity is “American” will understand race in a different way than a White respondent who identifies with a European ethnicity — yet each identity can lead to the same color-blind beliefs. To assess the appeal of different varieties of White identity, the responses of 16,632 non-Hispanic Whites to the ancestry question on the 2011 ACS are used. Based on these data, one can discern four primary types of White identity prevalent in the United States today: “White” (6%), “American” (10%), “ethnic” (62%), and “none” (12%). Each identity is most appealing to a different segment of the population — for example, older, urban Whites are most likely to claim an ethnic identity, while younger Whites living in rural areas with larger Hispanic populations are most likely to claim simply that their ethnic ancestry is “White.” Each identity also suggests a different pathway to color blindness.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Out of the woods

Experimental evidence for the co-evolution of hominin tool-making teaching and language

Thomas Morgan et al.
Nature Communications, January 2015

Abstract:
Hominin reliance on Oldowan stone tools — which appear from 2.5 mya and are believed to have been socially transmitted — has been hypothesized to have led to the evolution of teaching and language. Here we present an experiment investigating the efficacy of transmission of Oldowan tool-making skills along chains of adult human participants (N=184) using five different transmission mechanisms. Across six measures, transmission improves with teaching, and particularly with language, but not with imitation or emulation. Our results support the hypothesis that hominin reliance on stone tool-making generated selection for teaching and language, and imply that (i) low-fidelity social transmission, such as imitation/emulation, may have contributed to the ~700,000 year stasis of the Oldowan technocomplex, and (ii) teaching or proto-language may have been pre-requisites for the appearance of Acheulean technology. This work supports a gradual evolution of language, with simple symbolic communication preceding behavioural modernity by hundreds of thousands of years.

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Increased Affluence Explains the Emergence of Ascetic Wisdoms and Moralizing Religions

Nicolas Baumard et al.
Current Biology, 5 January 2015, Pages 10–15

Background: Between roughly 500 BCE and 300 BCE, three distinct regions, the Yangtze and Yellow River Valleys, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Ganges Valley, saw the emergence of highly similar religious traditions with an unprecedented emphasis on self-discipline and asceticism and with “otherworldly,” often moralizing, doctrines, including Buddhism, Jainism, Brahmanism, Daoism, Second Temple Judaism, and Stoicism, with later offshoots, such as Christianity, Manichaeism, and Islam. This cultural convergence, often called the “Axial Age,” presents a puzzle: why did this emerge at the same time as distinct moralizing religions, with highly similar features in different civilizations? The puzzle may be solved by quantitative historical evidence that demonstrates an exceptional uptake in energy capture (a proxy for general prosperity) just before the Axial Age in these three regions.

Results: Statistical modeling confirms that economic development, not political complexity or population size, accounts for the timing of the Axial Age.

Conclusions: We discussed several possible causal pathways, including the development of literacy and urban life, and put forward the idea, inspired by life history theory, that absolute affluence would have impacted human motivation and reward systems, nudging people away from short-term strategies (resource acquisition and coercive interactions) and promoting long-term strategies (self-control techniques and cooperative interactions).

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Infectious disease, behavioural flexibility and the evolution of culture in primates

Collin McCabe, Simon Reader & Charles Nunn
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 January 2015

Abstract:
Culturally transmitted traits are observed in a wide array of animal species, yet we understand little about the costs of the behavioural patterns that underlie culture, such as innovation and social learning. We propose that infectious diseases are a significant cost associated with cultural transmission. We investigated two hypotheses that may explain such a connection: that social learning and exploratory behaviours (specifically, innovation and extractive foraging) either compensate for existing infection or increase exposure to infectious agents. We used Bayesian comparative methods, controlling for sampling effort, body mass, group size, geographical range size, terrestriality, latitude and phylogenetic uncertainty. Across 127 primate species, we found a positive association between pathogen richness and rates of innovation, extractive foraging and social learning. This relationship was driven by two independent phenomena: socially contagious diseases were positively associated with rates of social learning, and environmentally transmitted diseases were positively associated with rates of exploration. Because higher pathogen burdens can contribute to morbidity and mortality, we propose that parasitism is a significant cost associated with the behavioural patterns that underpin culture, and that increased pathogen exposure is likely to have played an important role in the evolution of culture in both non-human primates and humans.

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Warfare and reproductive success in a tribal population

Luke Glowacki & Richard Wrangham
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 January 2015, Pages 348–353

Abstract:
Intergroup conflict is a persistent feature of many human societies yet little is known about why individuals participate when doing so imposes a mortality risk. To evaluate whether participation in warfare is associated with reproductive benefits, we present data on participation in small-scale livestock raids among the Nyangatom, a group of nomadic pastoralists in East Africa. Nyangatom marriages require the exchange of a significant amount of bridewealth in the form of livestock. Raids are usually intended to capture livestock, which raises the question of whether and how these livestock are converted into reproductive opportunities. Over the short term, raiders do not have a greater number of wives or children than nonraiders. However, elders who were identified as prolific raiders in their youth have more wives and children than other elders. Raiders were not more likely to come from families with fewer older maternal sisters or a greater number of older maternal brothers. Our results suggest that in this cultural context raiding provides opportunities for increased reproductive success over the lifetime.

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Recent origin of low trabecular bone density in modern humans

Habiba Chirchir et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 January 2015, Pages 366–371

Abstract:
Humans are unique, compared with our closest living relatives (chimpanzees) and early fossil hominins, in having an enlarged body size and lower limb joint surfaces in combination with a relatively gracile skeleton (i.e., lower bone mass for our body size). Some analyses have observed that in at least a few anatomical regions modern humans today appear to have relatively low trabecular density, but little is known about how that density varies throughout the human skeleton and across species or how and when the present trabecular patterns emerged over the course of human evolution. Here, we test the hypotheses that (i) recent modern humans have low trabecular density throughout the upper and lower limbs compared with other primate taxa and (ii) the reduction in trabecular density first occurred in early Homo erectus, consistent with the shift toward a modern human locomotor anatomy, or more recently in concert with diaphyseal gracilization in Holocene humans. We used peripheral quantitative CT and microtomography to measure trabecular bone of limb epiphyses (long bone articular ends) in modern humans and chimpanzees and in fossil hominins attributed to Australopithecus africanus, Paranthropus robustus/early Homo from Swartkrans, Homo neanderthalensis, and early Homo sapiens. Results show that only recent modern humans have low trabecular density throughout the limb joints. Extinct hominins, including pre-Holocene Homo sapiens, retain the high levels seen in nonhuman primates. Thus, the low trabecular density of the recent modern human skeleton evolved late in our evolutionary history, potentially resulting from increased sedentism and reliance on technological and cultural innovations.

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Gracility of the modern Homo sapiens skeleton is the result of decreased biomechanical loading

Timothy Ryan & Colin Shaw
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 January 2015, Pages 372–377

Abstract:
The postcranial skeleton of modern Homo sapiens is relatively gracile compared with other hominoids and earlier hominins. This gracility predisposes contemporary humans to osteoporosis and increased fracture risk. Explanations for this gracility include reduced levels of physical activity, the dissipation of load through enlarged joint surfaces, and selection for systemic physiological characteristics that differentiate modern humans from other primates. This study considered the skeletal remains of four behaviorally diverse recent human populations and a large sample of extant primates to assess variation in trabecular bone structure in the human hip joint. Proximal femur trabecular bone structure was quantified from microCT data for 229 individuals from 31 extant primate taxa and 59 individuals from four distinct archaeological human populations representing sedentary agriculturalists and mobile foragers. Analyses of mass-corrected trabecular bone variables reveal that the forager populations had significantly higher bone volume fraction, thicker trabeculae, and consequently lower relative bone surface area compared with the two agriculturalist groups. There were no significant differences between the agriculturalist and forager populations for trabecular spacing, number, or degree of anisotropy. These results reveal a correspondence between human behavior and bone structure in the proximal femur, indicating that more highly mobile human populations have trabecular bone structure similar to what would be expected for wild nonhuman primates of the same body mass. These results strongly emphasize the importance of physical activity and exercise for bone health and the attenuation of age-related bone loss.

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Ancient mitochondrial DNA from the northern fringe of the Neolithic farming expansion in Europe sheds light on the dispersion process

Helena Malmström et al.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 January 2015

Abstract:
The European Neolithization process started around 12 000 years ago in the Near East. The introduction of agriculture spread north and west throughout Europe and a key question has been if this was brought about by migrating individuals, by an exchange of ideas or a by a mixture of these. The earliest farming evidence in Scandinavia is found within the Funnel Beaker Culture complex (Trichterbecherkultur, TRB) which represents the northernmost extension of Neolithic farmers in Europe. The TRB coexisted for almost a millennium with hunter–gatherers of the Pitted Ware Cultural complex (PWC). If migration was a substantial part of the Neolithization, even the northerly TRB community would display a closer genetic affinity to other farmer populations than to hunter–gatherer populations. We deep-sequenced the mitochondrial hypervariable region 1 from seven farmers (six TRB and one Battle Axe complex, BAC) and 13 hunter–gatherers (PWC) and authenticated the sequences using postmortem DNA damage patterns. A comparison with 124 previously published sequences from prehistoric Europe shows that the TRB individuals share a close affinity to Central European farmer populations, and that they are distinct from hunter–gatherer groups, including the geographically close and partially contemporary PWC that show a close affinity to the European Mesolithic hunter–gatherers.

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Mitochondrial DNA variation in the Viking age population of Norway

Maja Krzewińska et al.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 January 2015

Abstract:
The medieval Norsemen or Vikings had an important biological and cultural impact on many parts of Europe through raids, colonization and trade, from about AD 793 to 1066. To help understand the genetic affinities of the ancient Norsemen, and their genetic contribution to the gene pool of other Europeans, we analysed DNA markers in Late Iron Age skeletal remains from Norway. DNA was extracted from 80 individuals, and mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms were detected by next-generation sequencing. The sequences of 45 ancient Norwegians were verified as genuine through the identification of damage patterns characteristic of ancient DNA. The ancient Norwegians were genetically similar to previously analysed ancient Icelanders, and to present-day Shetland and Orkney Islanders, Norwegians, Swedes, Scots, English, German and French. The Viking Age population had higher frequencies of K*, U*, V* and I* haplogroups than their modern counterparts, but a lower proportion of T* and H* haplogroups. Three individuals carried haplotypes that are rare in Norway today (U5b1b1, Hg A* and an uncommon variant of H*). Our combined analyses indicate that Norse women were important agents in the overseas expansion and settlement of the Vikings, and that women from the Orkneys and Western Isles contributed to the colonization of Iceland.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Into the night

Eveningness Is Associated with Higher Risk-Taking, Independent of Sex and Personality

Davide Ponzi, Claire Wilson & Dario Maestripieri
Psychological Reports, December 2014, Pages 932-947

Abstract:
This study tested the hypotheses that eveningness is associated with higher risk-taking propensities across different domains of risk and that this association is not the result of sex differences or confounding covariation with particular personality traits. Study participants were 172 men and women between 20 and 40 years of age. Surveys assessed chronotype, domain-specific risk-taking and risk-perception, and Big Five personality dimensions. Eveningness was associated with greater general risk-taking in the specific domains of financial, ethical, and recreational decision making. Although risk-taking was associated with both risk perception and some personality dimensions, eveningness predicted risk-taking independent of these factors. Higher risk-taking propensities among evening types may be causally or functionally linked to their propensities for sensation- and novelty-seeking, impulsivity, and sexual promiscuity.

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2D:4D Digit Ratio Predicts Delay of Gratification in Preschoolers

Sergio Da Silva, Bruno Moreira & Newton Da Costa
PLoS ONE, December 2014

Abstract:
We replicate the Stanford marshmallow experiment with a sample of 141 preschoolers and find a correlation between lack of self-control and 2D:4D digit ratio. Children with low 2D:4D digit ratio are less likely to delay gratification. Low 2D:4D digit ratio may indicate high fetal testosterone. If this hypothesis is true, our finding means high fetal testosterone children are less likely to delay gratification.

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Deciding for Others Reduces Loss Aversion

Ola Andersson et al.
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study risk taking on behalf of others, both when choices involve losses and when they do not. A large-scale incentivized experiment with subjects randomly drawn from the Danish population is conducted. We find that deciding for others reduces loss aversion. When choosing between risky prospects for which losses are ruled out by design, subjects make the same choices for themselves as for others. In contrast, when losses are possible, we find that the two types of choices differ. In particular, we find that subjects who make choices for themselves take less risk than those who decide for others when losses loom. This finding is consistent with an interpretation of loss aversion as a bias in decision making driven by emotions and that these emotions are reduced when making decisions for others.

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Ego Depletion in Color Priming Research: Self-Control Strength Moderates the Detrimental Effect of Red on Cognitive Test Performance

Alex Bertrams et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Colors have been found to affect psychological functioning. Empirical evidence suggests that, in test situations, brief perceptions of the color red or even the word “red” printed in black ink prime implicit anxious responses and consequently impair cognitive performance. However, we propose that this red effect depends on people’s momentary capacity to exert control over their prepotent responses (i.e., self-control). In three experiments (Ns = 66, 78, and 130), first participants’ self-control strength was manipulated. Participants were then primed with the color or word red versus gray prior to completing an arithmetic test or an intelligence test. As expected, self-control strength moderated the red effect. While red had a detrimental effect on performance of participants with depleted self-control strength (ego depletion), it did not affect performance of participants with intact self-control strength. We discuss implications of the present findings within the current debate on the robustness of priming results.

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Test of a potential causal influence of earlier age of gambling initiation on gambling involvement and disorder: A multilevel discordant twin design

Wendy Slutske et al.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, December 2014, Pages 1177-1189

Abstract:
The premise that an association between an earlier age of gambling initiation and the later development of disordered gambling is causal has not yet been empirically examined. The current study used a multilevel discordant twin design to examine the nature of this association. Participants were 3,546 same-sex twins (mean age = 37.7 years) from the Australian Twin Registry who completed a telephone interview that included an extensive assessment of gambling and related behaviors. Multilevel models were employed to estimate individual (within-twin-pair comparison) and family level (between-twin-pair comparison) effects, as well as the cross-level interaction between these effects. Family-level effects (genetic or environmental factors shared by family members) of age of gambling initiation robustly predicted later adult gambling frequency and disorder; the evidence for individual-level effects (unique factors not shared by family members, including a potentially causal effect of earlier age of gambling onset) was less robust. The results of this study suggest that the relation between earlier age of gambling initiation and later gambling involvement and disorder is primarily noncausal; efforts to delay the onset of gambling among young people may not necessarily reduce the number who later go on to develop gambling-related problems.

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The Ability to Follow Your Gut: Emotion-Understanding Ability Leverages Feelings to Avoid Risk

Jeremy Yip, Stéphane Côté & Dana Rose Carney
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Emotional intelligence facilitates decision-making about risk. We propose that emotionally intelligent individuals make better decisions because they adaptively use their immediate feelings as a source of information about different decision options. We examine whether emotion-understanding ability (a primary dimension of emotional intelligence) helps individuals rely on their skin-conductance responses as signals about the potential danger associated with risky decision options. By correctly identifying the source of their skin-conductance responses, individuals with higher emotion-understanding ability use their feelings as relevant information to avoid choosing risky decision options. As predicted, we find that individuals with higher emotion-understanding ability exhibited a stronger association between skin-conductance responses and avoidance of risky options in the Iowa Gambling Task, relative to individuals with lower emotion-understanding ability. We also find that emotional intelligence enhances decision-making independently of cognitive intelligence. These results suggest that emotional intelligence enables individuals to use their feelings adaptively to guide decisions about risk.

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Priming Memories of Past Wins Induces Risk Seeking

Elliot Ludvig, Christopher Madan & Marcia Spetch
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
People are often risk averse when making decisions under uncertainty. When those decisions are based on past experience, people necessarily rely on their memories. Thus, what is remembered at the time of the choice should influence risky choice. We tested this hypothesis by priming memory for past outcomes in a simple risky-choice task. In the task, people repeatedly chose between a safe option and a risky option that paid off with a larger or smaller reward with a 50/50 chance. Some trials were preceded by a priming cue that was previously paired with one of the outcomes. We found that priming cues associated with wins caused people to become risk seeking, whereas priming cues associated with relative losses had little effect. These results suggest that people can be induced to be more risk seeking through subtle reminders of previous winning experiences.

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Neural activation during response inhibition is associated with adolescents’ frequency of risky sex and substance use

Sarah Feldstein Ewing, Jon Houck & Angela Bryan
Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
While many have identified the important role of the developing brain in youth risk behavior, few have examined the relationship between salient cognitive factors (response inhibition) and different types of real-world adolescent health risk behaviors (substance use and risky sex) within the same sample of youth. We therefore sought to examine these relationships with 95 high-risk youth (ages 14-18; M age = 16.29 years). We examined the relationship between blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) response to an fMRI-based cognitive task designed to assess response inhibition (Go/NoGo) and past month risk behavior (number of substance use days; number of unprotected sex days). For this sample of youth, we found significant negative correlations between past month substance use and response inhibition within the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and right insula (uncorrected p < .001; extent threshold > 10 voxels). In addition, in the same contrast, we found significant positive correlations between past month risky sex and activation within the right IFG and left middle occipital gyrus (uncorrected p < .001; extent threshold > 10 voxels). These results suggest the particular relevance of these regions in this compelling, albeit slightly different pattern of response for adolescent substance use and risky sex.

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Not really the same: Computerized and real lotteries in decision making research

Aileen Oeberst, Susanne Haberstroh & Timo Gnambs
Computers in Human Behavior, March 2015, Pages 250–257

Abstract:
Computer technologies are routinely employed for many experimental procedures in decision-making research. Because computer-supported conduct has been shown to bias certain types of measures, the study evaluated the impact of computerized presentation of lotteries on risky choice tasks. A sample of 187 German undergraduates (147 women) participated in an experiment on financial decision-making. After presenting two types of lotteries participants had to choose between the risky and the conservative lottery. The experiment followed a 3 (presentation mode) × 2 (type of payoff) factorial design. Results indicated that the risky lottery was chosen more frequently when the lotteries were presented on computer as compared to real lotteries where participants drew balls from a closed box. Differences in risk perceptions mediated the mode effect on choice behavior. Moreover, risk taking decreased when the monetary payoff was made salient. Hence, computerized sampling and artificial payoffs (e.g., points) increased risky choices. Our findings therefore suggest that computer-supported sampling procedures in decision-making research might overestimate risk-taking behavior as compared to risk-taking in applied practice (i.e. in non-virtual sampling scenarios using monetary payoffs).

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, January 16, 2015

Learning the hard way

Education's Gambling Problem: Earmarked Lottery Revenues and Charitable Donations to Education

Daniel Jones
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
I examine the impact that lotteries introduced to support education have on voluntary contributions to education. State lotteries, and the causes they are introduced to support, are highly publicized. This provides the opportunity to assess whether donors are crowded-out by government spending of which they are almost certainly aware. Using donor-level survey data and nonprofits' tax returns, I find that donations to education-related organizations fall with the introduction of a lottery. This result is driven by donors' response to the new (highly publicized) government revenue source (rather than a decrease in nonprofit fundraising efforts).

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The Value of Smarter Teachers: International Evidence on Teacher Cognitive Skills and Student Performance

Eric Hanushek, Marc Piopiunik & Simon Wiederhold
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Differences in teacher quality are commonly cited as a key determinant of the huge international student performance gaps. However, convincing evidence on this relationship is still lacking, in part because it is unclear how to measure teacher quality consistently across countries. We use unique international assessment data to investigate the role of teacher cognitive skills as one main dimension of teacher quality in explaining student outcomes. Our main identification strategy exploits exogenous variation in teacher cognitive skills attributable to international differences in relative wages of nonteacher public sector employees. Using student-level test score data, we find that teacher cognitive skills are an important determinant of international differences in student performance. Results are supported by fixed-effects estimation that uses within-country between-subject variation in teacher skills.

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Who Enters Teaching? Encouraging Evidence That the Status of Teaching Is Improving

Hamilton Lankford et al.
Educational Researcher, December 2014, Pages 444-453

Abstract:
The relatively low status of teaching as a profession is often given as a factor contributing to the difficulty of recruiting teachers, the middling performance of American students on international assessments, and the well-documented decline in the relative academic ability of teachers through the 1990s. Since the turn of the 21st century, however, a number of federal, state, and local teacher accountability policies have been implemented toward improving teacher quality over the objections of some who argue the policies will decrease quality. In this article, we analyze 25 years of data on the academic ability of teachers in New York State and document that since 1999 the academic ability of both individuals certified and those entering teaching has steadily increased. These gains are widespread and have resulted in a substantial narrowing of the differences in teacher academic ability between high- and low-poverty schools and between White and minority teachers. We interpret these gains as evidence that the status of teaching is improving.

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House Price Growth when Children are Teenagers: A Path to Higher Earnings?

Daniel Cooper & María José Luengo-Prado
Journal of Urban Economics, March 2015, Pages 54–72

Abstract:
This paper examines whether rising house prices immediately prior to children entering college have an impact on their earnings as adults. Higher house prices provide homeowners with additional funding to invest in their children’s human capital but also raise housing costs. The results show that a one percentage point increase in house prices, when children are 17 years old, results in roughly 0.9 percent higher annual income for the children of homeowners, and 1.5 percent lower annual income for the children of renters. House price appreciation at age 17 also leads to higher college enrollment rates at age 19 and an increased likelihood of attendance at higher ranked colleges and universities for children of homeowners, as well as lower college enrollment rates for children of renters.

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Is there an educational penalty for being suspended from school?

Deborah Cobb-Clark et al.
Education Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Suspension from school is a commonly used, yet controversial, school disciplinary measure. This paper uses unique survey data to estimate the impact of suspension on the educational outcomes of those suspended. It finds that while suspension is strongly associated with educational outcomes, the relationship is unlikely to be causal, but rather likely stems from differences in the characteristics of those suspended compared to those not suspended. Moreover, there is no evidence that suspension is associated with larger educational penalties for young people from disadvantaged family backgrounds compared to those from more advantaged family backgrounds. These results hold regardless of whether self-reported suspension or mother-reported suspension is considered. The absence of a clear negative causal impact of suspension on educational outcomes suggests that suspension may continue to play a role in school discipline without harming the educational prospects of those sanctioned.

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The Returns to the Federal Tax Credits for Higher Education

George Bulman & Caroline Hoxby
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Three tax credits benefit households who pay tuition and fees for higher education. The credits have been justified as an investment: generating more educated people and thus more earnings and externalities associated with education. The credits have also been justified purely as tax cuts to benefit the middle class. In 2009, the generosity of and eligibility for the tax credits expanded enormously so that their 2011 cost was $25 billion. Using selected, de-identified data from the population of potential filers, we show how the credits are distributed across households with different incomes. We estimate the causal effects of the federal tax credits using two empirical strategies (regression kink and simulated instruments) which we show to be strong and very credibly valid for this application. The latter strategy exploits the massive expansion of the credits in 2009. We present causal estimates of the credits' effects on postsecondary attendance, the type of college attended, the resources experienced in college, tuition paid, and financial aid received. We discuss the implications of our findings for society's return on investment and for the tax credits' budget neutrality over the long term (whether higher lifetime earnings generate sufficient taxes to recoup the tax expenditures). We assess several explanations why the credits appear to have negligible causal effects.

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Charters Without Lotteries: Testing Takeovers in New Orleans and Boston

Atila Abdulkadiroğlu et al.
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Lottery estimates suggest oversubscribed urban charter schools boost student achievement markedly. But these estimates needn’t capture treatment effects for students who haven’t applied to charter schools or for students attending charters for which demand is weak. This paper reports estimates of the effect of charter school attendance on middle-schoolers in charter takeovers in New Orleans and Boston. Takeovers are traditional public schools that close and then re-open as charter schools. Students enrolled in the schools designated for closure are eligible for “grandfathering” into the new schools; that is, they are guaranteed seats. We use this fact to construct instrumental variables estimates of the effects of passive charter attendance: the grandfathering instrument compares students at schools designated for takeover with students who appear similar at baseline and who were attending similar schools not yet closed, while adjusting for possible violations of the exclusion restriction in such comparisons. Estimates for a large sample of takeover schools in the New Orleans Recovery School District show substantial gains from takeover enrollment. In Boston, where we can compare grandfathering and lottery estimates for a middle school, grandfathered students see achievement gains at least as large as the gains for students assigned seats in lotteries. Larger reading gains for grandfathering compliers are explained by a worse non-charter fallback.

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Leveling Up: Early Results from a Randomized Evaluation of Post-Secondary Aid

Joshua Angrist et al.
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
Does financial aid increase college attendance and completion? Selection bias and the high implicit tax rates imposed by overlapping aid programs make this question difficult to answer. This paper reports initial findings from a randomized evaluation of a large privately-funded scholarship program for applicants to Nebraska's public colleges and universities. Our research design answers the challenges of aid evaluation with random assignment of aid offers and a strong first stage for aid received: randomly assigned aid offers increased aid received markedly. This in turn appears to have boosted enrollment and persistence, while also shifting many applicants from two- to four-year schools. Awards offered to nonwhite applicants, to those with relatively low academic achievement, and to applicants who targeted less-selective four-year programs (as measured by admissions rates) generated the largest gains in enrollment and persistence, while effects were much smaller for applicants predicted to have stronger post-secondary outcomes in the absence of treatment. Thus, awards enabled groups with historically-low college attendance to ʽlevel up,ʼ largely equalizing enrollment and persistence rates with traditionally college-bound peers, particularly at four-year programs. Awards offered to prospective community college students had little effect on college enrollment or the type of college attended.

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The Housing and Educational Consequences of the School Choice Provisions of NCLB: Evidence from Charlotte, NC

Stephen Billings, Eric Brunner & Stephen Ross
University of North Carolina Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We examine housing market and residential mobility changes that occur soon after a school fails to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in Charlotte, NC. Students within attendance zones of failing schools are given priority in lotteries for oversubscribed schools, potentially increasing the attractiveness of living in a failing school attendance zone. We find that housing prices, homebuyer income and the probability of attending a non-assigned school increase in the highest quality neighborhoods within failing school attendance zones. Our results are driven largely by the behavior of new residents who exploit the school choice advantages offered by failure to achieve AYP.

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Experimentally Estimated Impacts of School Vouchers on College Enrollment and Degree Attainment

Matthew Chingos & Paul Peterson
Journal of Public Economics, February 2015, Pages 1–12

Abstract:
We provide the first experimental estimates of the long-term impacts of a voucher to attend private school by linking data from a privately sponsored voucher initiative in New York City, which awarded the scholarships by lottery to low-income families, to administrative records on college enrollment and degree attainment. We find no significant effects on college enrollment or four-year degree attainment of the offer of a voucher. However, we find substantial, marginally significant impacts for minority students and large, significant impacts for the children of women born in the United States. Negative point estimates for the children of non-minority and foreign-born mothers are not statistically significant at conventional levels. The information needed to match students to administrative data on postsecondary outcomes was available for 99 percent of the sample. We find evidence of substantial bias due to attrition in the original evaluation, which relied on data collected at follow-up sessions.

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Does Education Loan Debt Influence Household Financial Distress? An Assessment Using the 2007-09 SCF Panel

Jeffrey Thompson & Jesse Bricker
Federal Reserve Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
This paper uses the recent 2007-09 SCF panel to examine the influence of student loans on financial distress. Families with student loans in 2007 have higher levels of financial distress than families without such loans, and these families were more susceptible to transitions to financial distress during the early stages of the Great Recession. This correlation persists once we control for a host of other demographic, work-status, and household balance sheet measures. Families with an average level of student loans were 3.1 percentage points more likely to be 60 days late paying bills and 3 percentage points more likely to be denied credit. During this same time period, families with other types of consumer debt were no more or less likely to be financially distressed. Education loans enable students to go to college and improve their employment and earnings prospects. On average, families with education loans in the 2007-09 SCF saw higher income growth between surveys. Further, the value of completing a degree is evident in the data: families without a degree but with education debt drive much of the correlations between financial distress and education loans.

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Alchian on Tenure: Some Long Awaited Empirical Evidence

William Brown
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Armen Alchian made many important contributions to our understanding of organizations. One of the most important insights was related to organizations of higher education and the existence of tenure. However, the primary empirical predictions of his explanation for tenure have remained unexplored. This paper provides some empirical evidence on these predictions. Alchian’s predictions receive strong support. The results indicate that tenure is significantly more likely to occur in nonprofit institutions than in for-profit institutions, tenure is more common in public institutions than in private nonprofit institutions, and among private nonprofit institutions the incidence of tenure is positively related to the level of endowment support and negatively related to the institution’s reliance on tuition and fees.

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Do High School Athletes Get Better Grades During the Off-Season?

Katie Schultz
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
A great deal of recent research has employed instrumental variables to estimate the effect of participation in athletics on academic or labor market outcomes, finding evidence of small positive effects from participation. This research proposes several theories of how participation affects success but cannot distinguish between them. I ask a fundamentally different question, whether an athlete performs better or worse, academically, during the season in which they participate in sports, focusing on the time allocation theory of participation. Time spent on sports may substitute from time on academics or negative leisure activities, causing academic performance to improve or decline in-season, respectively. This paper finds a small negative and significant in-season effect on academic performance for varsity athletes and a small positive and significant in-season effect on academic performance for junior varsity (JV) athletes. Decreases in in-season grade point average (GPA) for varsity athletes occur through a decline in performance in English and history courses, while increases in in-season GPA for JV athletes operate through an improvement in math and science courses. Results are robust to controlling for various measures of course ease across semesters. The relatively small in-season effects suggest that estimates of the effects of participation in the rest of the literature operate primarily through mechanisms other than time allocation.

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Life in the Fast Lane: Effects of Early Grade Acceleration on High School and College Outcomes

Katie Larsen McClarty
Gifted Child Quarterly, January 2015, Pages 3-13

Abstract:
Research has repeatedly demonstrated the positive effects of acceleration for gifted and talented students. This study expands the literature by not only evaluating the impact of early grade skipping on high school and college outcomes but also examining the role of postacceleration opportunities on subsequent performance. Using a representative national sample, accelerated students were compared with older grade-level peers who had similar academic and demographic backgrounds. Results suggest that, on average, accelerated students consistently and significantly outperformed their nonaccelerated peers, both in high school and in college. Furthermore, postacceleration educational opportunities provided additional benefit; students who skipped a grade and also participated in challenging academic programs (e.g., Advanced Placement, high-ability instructional groups) demonstrated particularly high achievement. Results suggest that gifted learners profit most when acceleration is coupled with additional opportunities for advanced study.

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Grades and Rank: Impacts of Non-Financial Incentives on Test Performance

Nina Jalava, Juanna Schrøter Joensen & Elin Pellas
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does effort respond to being graded and ranked? This paper examines the effects of non-financial incentives on test performance. We conduct a randomized field experiment on more than a thousand sixth graders in Swedish primary schools. Extrinsic non-financial incentives play an important role in motivating highly skilled students to exert more effort. We find significant differences in test scores between the intrinsically motivated control group and three of four extrinsically motivated treatment groups. The only treatment not increasing test performance is criterion-based grading on an A-F scale, which is the typical grading method. Test performance is significantly higher if employing rank-based grading or giving students a symbolic reward. The motivational strengths of the non-financial incentives differ across the test score distribution, across the skill distribution, with peer familiarity, and with respect to gender. Boys are only motivated by rank-based incentives, while girls are also motivated by receiving a symbolic reward. Rank-based grading and symbolic rewards tend to crowd out intrinsic motivation for students with low skills, while girls also respond less to rank-based incentives if tested with less familiar peers.

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Group-Average Observables as Controls for Sorting on Unobservables When Estimating Group Treatment Effects: The Case of School and Neighborhood Effects

Joseph Altonji & Richard Mansfield
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We consider the classic problem of estimating group treatment effects when individuals sort based on observed and unobserved characteristics that affect the outcome. Using a standard choice model, we show that controlling for group averages of observed individual characteristics potentially absorbs all the across-group variation in unobservable individual characteristics. We use this insight to bound the treatment effect variance of school systems and associated neighborhoods for various outcomes. Across four datasets, our most conservative estimates indicate that a 90th versus 10th percentile school system increases the high school graduation probability by between 0.047 and 0.085 and increases the college enrollment probability by between 0.11 and 0.13. We also find large effects on adult earnings. We discuss a number of other applications of our methodology, including measurement of teacher value-added.

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Patterns and Trends in Grade Retention Rates in the United States, 1995–2010

John Robert Warren, Emily Hoffman & Megan Andrew
Educational Researcher, December 2014, Pages 433-443

Abstract:
Although grade retention may be consequential for a number of important educational and socioeconomic outcomes, we know surprisingly little about the actual rate at which students are made to repeat grades. We build on Hauser, Frederick, and Andrew’s 2007 measure of grade retention using data from the 1995 through 2010 Current Population Surveys. We make technical improvements to their measure, provide more recent estimates, and validate the measure against external criteria. Our measure describes large disparities in grade retention rates by sex, race/ethnicity, geographic locale, and students’ socioeconomic circumstances. However, both absolute retention rates and disparities in retention rates have declined markedly since 2005. We conclude by describing how our measures might be used to model the impact of economic and policy contexts on grade retention rates.

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Performance Pay, Test Scores, and Student Learning Objectives

Ryan Balch & Matthew Springer
Economics of Education Review, February 2015, Pages 114–125

Abstract:
Austin Independent School District's (AISD) REACH pay for performance program has become a national model for compensation reform. This study analyzes the test scores of students enrolled in schools participating in the REACH program to students enrolled in schools within AISD not participating in the program. We also investigate the relationship between student learning objectives (SLOs), the program's primary measure of individual teacher performance, and teacher performance as measured by value-added student test scores. The AISD REACH program is associated with positive student test score gains in both math and reading during the initial year of implementation. Student test score gains are maintained in the second year, but we do not find any additional growth. We also find that SLOs are not significantly correlated with a teacher's value-added student test scores.

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Long Run Effects of Free School Choice: College Attainment, Employment, Earnings, and Social Outcomes at Adulthood

Victor Lavy
NBER Working Paper, January 2015

Abstract:
Research in economics of education about the effectiveness of educational programs and interventions have centered primarily on standardized test scores as a measure of success. However, since the ultimate goal of education is to improve lifetime well-being, attention shifted recently to long term consequences at adulthood, for example post-secondary schooling. However, the type of educational interventions studied is still limited and much remained to be unraveled. In this paper I study the long term consequences of free school choice by taking advantage of an experiment conducted two decades ago in the city of Tel Aviv, Israel. This school choice program was very effective in improving high school attainment and cognitive achievements six years later (Lavy 2010) and now I examine whether these effects persist beyond high school. The results indicate that treated students experience significant gains in post-secondary enrollment and in completed years of education and also have higher earnings at age 30. These significant positive treatment effects reflect mainly an increase in academic education, through increased enrollment in three-years academic colleges but not in research universities, and some shift away from vocational education at adulthood. Additional gains are reductions in eligibility and recipiency of disability welfare allowances.

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When Small Words Foretell Academic Success: The Case of College Admissions Essays

James Pennebaker et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2014

Abstract:
The smallest and most commonly used words in English are pronouns, articles, and other function words. Almost invisible to the reader or writer, function words can reveal ways people think and approach topics. A computerized text analysis of over 50,000 college admissions essays from more than 25,000 entering students found a coherent dimension of language use based on eight standard function word categories. The dimension, which reflected the degree students used categorical versus dynamic language, was analyzed to track college grades over students' four years of college. Higher grades were associated with greater article and preposition use, indicating categorical language (i.e., references to complexly organized objects and concepts). Lower grades were associated with greater use of auxiliary verbs, pronouns, adverbs, conjunctions, and negations, indicating more dynamic language (i.e., personal narratives). The links between the categorical-dynamic index (CDI) and academic performance hint at the cognitive styles rewarded by higher education institutions.

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Summer Nudging: Can Personalized Text Messages and Peer Mentor Outreach Increase College Going Among Low-Income High School Graduates?

Benjamin Castleman & Lindsay Page
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Several recent low-cost interventions demonstrate that simplifying information about college and financial aid and helping students access professional assistance can generate substantial improvements in students’ postsecondary outcomes. We build on this growing literature by investigating the impact of two applications of behavioral principles to mitigate summer “melt,” the phenomenon that college-intending high school graduates fail to matriculate in college anywhere in the year following high school. One intervention utilized an automated and personalized text messaging campaign to remind college-intending students of required pre-matriculation tasks and to connect them to counselor-based support. Another employed near-aged peer mentors to provide summer outreach and support. The interventions substantially increased college enrollment among students who had less academic-year access to quality college counseling or information. Both strategies are cost-effective approaches to increase college entry among populations traditionally underrepresented in higher education and, more broadly, highlight the potential for low-cost behavioral nudges and interventions to achieve meaningful improvements in students’ educational outcomes.

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Do Differences in School Quality Matter More Than We Thought? New Evidence on Educational Opportunity in the Twenty-first Century

Jennifer Jennings et al.
Sociology of Education, January 2015, Pages 56-82

Abstract:
Do schools reduce or perpetuate inequality by race and family income? Most studies conclude that schools play only a small role in explaining socioeconomic and racial disparities in educational outcomes, but they usually draw this conclusion based solely on test scores. We reconsider this finding using longitudinal data on test scores and four-year college attendance among high school students in Massachusetts and Texas. We show that unexplained differences between high schools are larger for college attendance than for test scores. These differences are arguably caused by differences between the schools themselves. Furthermore, while these apparent differences in high school effectiveness increase income disparities in college attendance, they reduce racial disparities. Social scientists concerned with schools’ role in transmitting inequality across generations should reconsider the assumption that schools either increase or reduce all disparities and should direct attention to explaining why high schools’ effects on specific outcomes and groups of students appear to vary so much.

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School Choice & Social Stratification: How Intra-District Transfers Shift the Racial/Ethnic and Economic Composition of Schools

Kristie Phillips, Elisabeth Larsen & Charles Hausman
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The liberation model hypothesizes that school choice liberates students from underperforming schools by giving them the opportunity to seek academically superior schooling options outside of their neighborhoods. Subsequently, school choice is hypothesized to diminish stratification in schools. Data from one urban school district is analyzed to test these hypotheses. We specifically examine which factors influence the propensity for parents to participate in choice, and how school choice changes the racial/ethnic and economic composition of schools. We further examine how school choice influences similar changes within distinct sociogeographic areas within the district. We find that families who are zoned to more racially/ethnically and economically diverse schools in sociogeographically diverse areas are more likely to participate in school choice. We also find that intra-district choice is associated with a slight increase in social stratification throughout the district, with more substantial stratification occurring in the most demographically diverse areas and schools.

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One Size does not Fit All: Multiple Dimensions of Ability, College Attendance and Wages

María Prada & Sergio Urzúa
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We investigate the role of mechanical ability as another dimension that, jointly with cognitive and socio-emotional, affects schooling decisions and labor market outcomes. Using a Roy model with a factor structure and data from the NLSY79, we show that the labor market positively rewards mechanical ability. However, in contrast to the other dimensions, mechanical ability reduces the likelihood of attending four-year college. We find that, on average, for individuals with high levels of mechanical and low levels of cognitive and socio-emotional ability, not attending four-year college is the alternative associated with the highest hourly wage (ages 25-30).

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The Longitudinal Effects of After-School Program Experiences, Quantity, and Regulatable Features on Children’s Social-Emotional Development

Christine Wade
Children and Youth Services Review, January 2015, Pages 70–79

Abstract:
Experiences of 298 children with their caregivers in after-school programs (ASPs) were examined as predictors of social-emotional functioning across first through fifth grade. Moderating effects of previous social-emotional problems, child gender, family income, quantity of care, and program regulatable features were also estimated. On average, ASP experiences negatively predicted externalizing problems and positively predicted social self-control and assertion. Interestingly, positive ASP experiences did not predict decreased externalizing behaviors, but instead children with negative experiences had higher levels of externalizing behavior problems. Changes in ASP experiences positively predicted changes in self-control scores, but only for boys. Finally, staff experience, staff wages, and changes in child-to-caregiver ratios predicted children’s ASP experiences and levels of social-emotional development.

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Unconditional Regard Buffers Children’s Negative Self-Feelings

Eddie Brummelman et al.
Pediatrics, December 2014, Pages 1119-1126

Background: Unconditional regard refers to the feeling that one is accepted and valued by others without conditions. Psychological theory suggests that experiences of unconditional regard lead children to feel that they are valuable despite setbacks. We hypothesized that reflecting on experiences of unconditional regard would buffer children’s negative self-feelings (eg, shame, insecurity, powerlessness) in the face of setbacks. To test this hypothesis, we randomized children to reflect on experiences of unconditional regard or other experiences, and examined their response to an academic setback 3 weeks later.

Methods: Participants (11–15 years old) were randomly assigned to reflect for 15 minutes on experiences of unconditional regard (n = 91), conditional regard (n = 80), or other social experiences (n = 76). Research personnel, teachers, and classmates remained blind to condition assignment. Three weeks later, after receiving their course grades, children reported their self-feelings. Course grades were obtained from school records. Receiving low course grades represents a salient and painful real-world setback for children.

Results: Replicating previous research, children who received lower grades experienced more negative self-feelings (P < .001). As predicted, this well-established relationship was significantly attenuated among children who had reflected, 3 weeks previously, on experiences of unconditional regard (Ps < .03). Reflecting on unconditional regard specifically reduced negative self-feelings after low grades (P = .01), not after average or high grades (Ps > .17).

Conclusions: Reflecting on unconditional regard buffered children’s selves against the adverse impact of an academic setback over an extended period of time. Unconditional regard may thus be an important psychological lever to reduce negative self-feelings in youth.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Right to rise

When Can Women Close the Gap? A Meta-Analytic Test of Sex Differences in Performance and Rewards

Aparna Joshi, Jooyeon Son & Hyuntak Roh
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing on macro and micro domains in gender research, we meta-analytically test how occupational, industry, and job-level factors can either mitigate or exacerbate differences in performance evaluations (k = 93; n = 95,882) and rewards (k = 97; n = 378,850) between men and women. Based on studies conducted across a variety of work settings and spanning nearly thirty years, we found that the sex differences in rewards (d = .56) (including salary, bonuses, and promotions) were fourteen times larger than sex differences in performance evaluations (d = .04) and that differences in performance evaluations did not explain reward differences between men and women. The percentage of men in an occupation and the complexity of jobs performed by employees enhanced the male-female gap in performance and rewards. In highly prestigious occupations women performed equally but were rewarded significantly lower than men. Only a higher representation of female executives at the industry level enabled women to reverse the gender gap in rewards and performance evaluations. Our configurational analysis also revealed that some occupational, job, and industry level attributes of the work context are jointly associated with higher differences in rewards and performance evaluations.

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Stereotype Threat and the Evaluative Context of Communication

Matthew McGlone & Abigail Pfiester
Journal of Language and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explored the impact of "stereotype threat" - that is, distress associated with the prospect of confirming a negative stereotype - on communication in evaluative contexts. Participants engaged in a conflict resolution simulation framed as diagnostic of their ability either to be a leader or to maintain close personal relationships. Women were less fluent and used more tentative language under leadership than relational maintenance framing, but men were less fluent and more tentative under relational maintenance than leadership framing. The influence of stereotype frame on the rates of disfluencies and tentative language was partially mediated by state anxiety. Our findings demonstrate that the effects of situationally induced stereotype threat on communication behavior are comparable to its effects on intellectual test performance. Consequences of stereotype threat for impression formation and strategies for reducing its impact on social interaction are discussed.

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Sex differences in academic achievement are not related to political, economic, or social equality

Gijsbert Stoet & David Geary
Intelligence, January-February 2015, Pages 137-151

Abstract:
The national differences in gender equality in economic and political participation have garnered considerable attention as an explanation of boys' better achievement in mathematics in most countries, but the debate is far from resolved. Using data from four international assessments of the academic achievement of 1.5 million 15 year olds (Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA), we demonstrate that the relation between sex differences in PISA achievement and national measures of gender equality is not consistent across assessments, and several of the positive findings are confounded by outliers. Further, for overall achievement across reading, mathematics, and science literacy girls outperformed boys in 70% of participating countries, including many with considerable gaps in economic and political equality, and they fell behind in only 4% of countries. The results raise doubts about the relation between national equality policies and mathematics achievement, and raise broader questions regarding women's underrepresentation in political, economic, and academic leadership despite stronger academic skills and regarding the long-term economic prospects and social stability of nations with many men who are not competitive in the modern economy.

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Efficacy vs. Equity: What Happens When States Tinker with College Admissions in a Race-Blind Era?

Sandra Black, Kalena Cortes & Jane Arnold Lincove
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
College admissions officers face a rapidly changing policy environment where court decisions have limited the use of affirmative action. At the same time, there is mounting evidence that commonly used signals of college readiness, such as the SAT/ACTs, are subject to race and socioeconomic bias. Our study investigates the efficacy and equity of college admissions criteria by estimating the effect of multiple measures of college readiness on freshman college grade point average and four-year graduation. Importantly, we take advantage of a unique institutional feature of the Texas higher education system to control for selection into admissions and enrollment. We find that SAT/ACT scores, high school exit exams, and advanced coursework are predictors of student success in college. However, when we simulate changes in college enrollment and college outcomes with additional admissions criteria, we find that adding SAT/ACT or high school exit exam criteria to a rank-based admissions policy significantly decreases enrollment among minorities and other groups, with the most negative effects generated by the SAT/ACT, while inducing only minimal gains in college GPA and four-year graduation rates.

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When Winning Is Really Losing: Teaching Awards and Women Political Science Faculty

Charity Butcher & Timothy Kersey
PS: Political Science & Politics, January 2015, Pages 138-141

Abstract:
Based on a recent survey of political science professors in the United States, women tend to win teaching awards at higher rates than their male counterparts. This may seem like good news for female faculty, particularly amid continuing reports of gender gaps in publications and citations as well as the "leaky pipeline" phenomenon within promotions. However, a closer look at these findings suggests that in cases in which such awards might be most beneficial to women, they are less likely than their male colleagues to receive such acknowledgments. In fact, women are more likely than men to receive these awards only in institutional contexts in which research output is more important for tenure and promotion than teaching. Thus, the achievement of teaching excellence may have an overall negative impact on the advancement of female faculty by reducing their time and focus available for research.

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Quotas and qualifications: The impact of gender quota laws on the qualifications of legislators in the Italian parliament

Ana Catalano Weeks & Lisa Baldez
European Political Science Review, February 2015, Pages 119-144

Abstract:
This article addresses concerns that candidates nominated because of gender quota laws will be less qualified for office. While questions of candidate quality have long been relevant to legislative behavior, quota laws requiring a certain percentage of candidates for national office to be women have generated renewed interest. Gender quotas are often perceived to reduce the scope of political competition. By putting gender identity center stage, they preclude the possibility that elections will be based on 'ideas' or 'merit' alone. Other electoral rules that restrict candidate selection, such as the centralization of candidate selection common in closed list PR systems, have been found to reduce the quality of candidates. Rules that open selection, such as primaries, result in higher quality candidates. We exploit the institutional design of Italy's mixed electoral system in 1994, where quotas were applied only to the PR portion of the list, to compare the qualifications of men, women, and 'quota women'. We estimate regressions on several measures of deputies' qualifications for office and performance in office. We find that unlike other rules limiting candidate selection, quotas are not associated with lower quality on most measures of qualifications. In fact, quota women have more local government experience than other legislators and lower rates of absenteeism than their male counterparts. Contrary to critics, quota laws may have a positive impact on legislator quality. Once the quota law was rescinded, quota women were less likely to be re-elected than non-quota women or men, which suggests that discrimination - not qualification - limits women's status as candidates.

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Gender differences in latent cognitive abilities in children aged 2 to 7

Mohammed Palejwala & Jodene Goldenring Fine
Intelligence, January-February 2015, Pages 96-108

Abstract:
Gender differences in the latent cognitive abilities underlying the Wechsler Primary and Preschool Scale of Intelligence-Fourth Edition (WPPSI-IV) were investigated in children aged 2 to 7. Multiple-group confirmatory factor analysis was used to verify the measurement invariance of the WPPSI-IV factor model in boys and girls. Then the magnitude of gender differences in the means and variances of the abilities was estimated. Multiple-indicator multiple-cause models were implemented to explore whether the magnitude of these differences varied across age. Girls aged 2 to 7 demonstrated higher general intelligence. Girls aged 4 to 7 demonstrated an advantage in processing speed. A gender difference favoring boys in visual processing was absent in ages 2 to 3 but emerged in ages 4 to 7. Gender differences in fluid reasoning, short-term memory, and comprehension-knowledge were not found. The variability of any of the abilities did not differ among girls and boys. These results indicate that gender differences in cognitive abilities emerge in early childhood, which may contribute to gender differences in later educational outcomes.

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How financially literate are women? An overview and new insights

Tabea Bucher-Koenen et al.
NBER Working Paper, December 2014

Abstract:
We document strikingly similar gender differences in financial literacy across countries. When asked to answer questions that measure knowledge of basic financial concepts, women are less likely than men to answer correctly and more likely to indicate that they do not know the answer. In addition, women give themselves lower scores on financial literacy self-assessments than men. Both young and old women show low levels of financial literacy. Moreover, women for whom financial knowledge is likely to be very important - for example widows or single women - know little about concepts relevant for day-to-day financial decisions. Even women in favorable economic conditions are less financially knowledgeable than men. This is important because financial literacy has been linked to economic behavior, including retirement planning and wealth accumulation. Women live longer than men and are likely to spend time in widowhood. As a result, improving women's financial literacy is key to helping them prepare for retirement and promoting their financial security.

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Is It Me or Her? How Gender Composition Evokes Interpersonally Sensitive Behavior on Collaborative Cross-Boundary Projects

Michele Williams & Evan Polman
Organization Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates how professional workers' willingness to act with interpersonal sensitivity is influenced by the gender and power of their interaction partners. We call into question the idea that mixed-gender interactions involve more interpersonal sensitivity than all-male interactions primarily because women demonstrate more interpersonal sensitivity than do men. Rather, we argue that the social category "women" can evoke more sensitive behavior from others such that men as well as women contribute to an increase in sensitivity in mixed-gender interactions. We further argue that the presence of women may trigger increased sensitivity such that men can also be the recipients of more sensitivity when one or more women are present on a team. In a study of 202 management consultants, we found that the willingness to act with interpersonal sensitivity increased in interactions with women. Moreover, this effect was greater in interactions with women who had low reward power - i.e., females who better fit the expectations associated with the social category "women." We also found team-level effects. Professionals working with mixed-gender versus all-male client teams reported a greater willingness to act with interpersonally sensitive behavior toward male client team members. Our findings show that the willingness to act with interpersonal sensitivity is context dependent and shed light on the importance of studying interaction partner-level and team-level effects on willingness to act with interpersonal sensitivity.

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A Company I Can Trust? Organizational Lay Theories Moderate Stereotype Threat for Women

Katherine Emerson & Mary Murphy
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, February 2015, Pages 295-307

Abstract:
Women remain under-represented in the leadership of corporate America. According to stereotype threat theory, this under-representation may persist because women are concerned about being stereotyped in business settings. Three studies investigated whether an entity (fixed), compared with an incremental (malleable), organizational lay theory is threatening for women evaluating a consulting company. Men and women viewed a company mission statement or website containing an entity or incremental theory. Results revealed that women - more so than men - trusted the entity company less than the incremental company. Furthermore, only women's mistrust of the entity company was driven by their expectations about being stereotyped by its management. Notably, when combined with high or low representations of female employees, only organizational lay theories predicted trust. Finally, people's - particularly women's - mistrust of the entity company led them to disengage more before interacting with a representative. Implications for women's experiences and outcomes in workplace settings are discussed.

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"Once You Go to a White School, You Kind of Adapt": Black Adolescents and the Racial Classification of Schools

Simone Ispa-Landa & Jordan Conwell
Sociology of Education, January 2015, Pages 1-19

Abstract:
Studies of when youth classify academic achievement in racial terms have focused on the racial classification of behaviors and individuals. However, institutions - including schools - may also be racially classified. Drawing on a comparative interview study, we examine the school contexts that prompt urban black students to classify schools in racial terms. Through Diversify, a busing program, one group of black students attended affluent suburban schools with white-dominated achievement hierarchies (n = 38). Diversify students assigned schools to categories of whiteness or blackness that equated whiteness with achievement and blackness with academic deficiency. Students waitlisted for Diversify (n = 16) attended urban schools without white-dominated achievement hierarchies. These students did not classify schools as white or black, based on academic quality. We assert that scholars may productively conceive of schools, not just individual students, as sites of potential racial classification. Furthermore, the racial classification of schools reinforces antagonism between black students attending ''white'' and ''black'' schools and perpetuates harmful racial stereotypes.

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Ethnic Income Disparities in Israel

Pnina Plaut & Steven Plaut
Israel Affairs, Winter 2015, Pages 1-26

Abstract:
This article analyses income inequality in Israel and the role of ethnicity in creating or explaining it. It shows that in spite of relatively large 'raw' disparities in mean incomes across the ethnic groups, when controlling for other non-ethnic factors it is not generally the case that Arabs underperform in the Israeli labour markets compared with Jews, and in some cases Arabs outperform Jews, especially for men. Returns on education also do not appear to be lower for Arabs, other things being equal. In spite of the stereotypes, Ashkenazim generally do not outperform Mizrahim, or at most do so to a very small degree. The main 'advantaged' ethnic group are the native-born sabra Israelis. The main 'disadvantaged' demographic group are recent immigrants. Somewhat surprisingly, Ethiopians do not underperform compared with other immigrants, other things being equal.

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Measuring the Effect of Institutional Change on Gender Inequality in the Labour Market

Martina Dieckhoff, Vanessa Gash & Nadia Steiber
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the differential impact of labour market institutions on women and men. It carries out longitudinal analyses using repeat cross-sectional data from the EU Labour Force Survey 1992-2007 as well as time series data that measure institutional change over the same period. The results contribute to the literature on gendered employment, adding important insights into the impact of labour market institutions over and above family policies that have been the focus of most prior studies on the topic. We find differential effects of institutional change on male and female outcome. Our findings challenge the neo-classical literature on the topic. While our results suggest that men benefit more clearly than women from increases in employment protection, we do not find support for the neo-classical assertion that strong trade unions decrease female employment. Instead, increasing union strength is shown to have beneficial effects for both men's and women's likelihood of being employed on the standard employment contract. Furthermore, in line with other researchers, we find that rising levels of in kind state support to families improve women's employment opportunities.

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Sex as a source of power? Backlash against self-sexualizing women

Martina Infanger, Laurie Rudman & Sabine Sczesny
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although women are thought to possess sexual power, they risk social and economic penalties (i.e., backlash; Rudman, 1998) when they self-sexualize (i.e., assert their power; Cahoon & Edmonds, 1989; Glick, Larsen, Johnson, & Branstiter, 2005). Why? Drawing on the status incongruity hypothesis (SIH), which predicts backlash against powerful women because they challenge the gender hierarchy, we expected prejudice against self-sexualizing women to be explained by a dominance penalty rather than a communality deficit (Rudman, Moss-Racusin, Phelan, & Nauts, 2012). Two experiments supported this hypothesis, and Experiment 3 further showed that the dominance penalty was explained by ascribing power motives to self-sexualized women. These findings extend the SIH's utility to the domain of self-sexualization and illuminate the scope of people's discomfort with female power. Implications for the advancement of gender equality are discussed.

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Gender and venture capital decision-making: The effects of technical background and social capital on entrepreneurial evaluations

Justine Tinkler et al.
Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on gender and workplace decision-making tends to address either supply-side disparities between men's and women's human and social capital, or demand-side differences in the status expectations of women and men workers. In addition, this work often relies on causal inferences drawn from empirical data collected on worker characteristics and their workplace outcomes. In this study, we demonstrate how tangible education and work history credentials - typically associated with supply-side characteristics - work in tandem with cultural beliefs about gender to influence the evaluative process that underlies venture capital decisions made in high-growth, high-tech entrepreneurship. Using an experimental design, we simulate funding decisions by venture capitalists (VCs) for men and women entrepreneurs that differ in technical background and the presence of important social ties. We demonstrate the presence of two distinct aspects of VCs' evaluation: that of the venture and that of the entrepreneur, and find that the gender of the entrepreneur influences evaluations most when the person, rather than the venture, is the target of evaluation. Technical background qualifications moderate the influence of gendered expectations, and women receive more of a payoff than men from having a close contact to the evaluating VC. We discuss the implications for future research on gender and work.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Abroad

We Always Fight the Last War? Prior Experiences in Counterinsurgency and Conventional Warfare and War Outcomes

Stephen Quackenbush & Amanda Murdie
International Interactions, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does previous experience with conventional warfare harm a military fighting an insurgency? Or, conversely, does prior experience with a counterinsurgency lower a military’s likelihood for winning a conventional interstate war? Whereas firepower, maneuver, and associated tactics are essential for conventional warfare, counterinsurgency requires restrictions on firepower and effective policing in order to “win hearts and minds.” These competing requirements for military preparedness for conventional warfare and counterinsurgency have been extensively debated. However, the consequences of fighting counterinsurgency on a state’s readiness for fighting conventional wars (and vice versa) have been unexplored. We examine the relationship between past experiences with one type of conflict and war outcomes of the other type of conflict through a quantitative analysis of all wars that ended between 1838 and 2005. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find that past experiences with either counterinsurgency or conventional warfare have little association with future success in war, conventional or not.

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Why Does the United States Intervene Abroad? Democracy, Human Rights Violations, and Terrorism

Seung-Whan Choi & Patrick James
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
Democracy, human rights, and terrorism are major foreign policy issues. However, among these issues, what do the US leaders care about the most? This study assesses the degree to which Washington responds militarily to threats to democratic institutions, human rights abuses, and terrorist activity in other countries. Based on a cross-national, time-series data analysis of 164 countries for the years 1981 to 2005, this study presents empirical models that evaluate the relative importance of these issues for contemporary American foreign and security policy. It turns out that, all other things being equal, the United States is likely to engage in military campaigns for humanitarian reasons that focus on human rights protection rather than for its own security interests such as democracy promotion or terrorism reduction. This finding is extremely robust and reinforced by case illustrations that support a causal explanation for US intervention with a basic and sustained place for human rights protection.

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Competency Costs in Foreign Affairs: Presidential Performance in International Conflicts and Domestic Legislative Success, 1953–2001

Christopher Gelpi & Joseph Grieco
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Numerous prominent theories have relied on the concept of “audience costs” as a central causal mechanism in their arguments about international conflict, but scholars have had greater difficulty in demonstrating the efficacy and even the existence of such costs outside the bounds of game theory and the political psychology laboratory. We suggest that the audience costs argument focuses too narrowly on the likelihood that leaders will be removed from office by domestic constituencies for failing to make good on threats. Instead, we argue that scholars should ground these arguments on Alastair Smith's (1998) broader concept of “competency costs.” Our analysis of presidential legislative success from 1953 to 2001 demonstrates the existence of foreign policy competency costs by showing that public disapproval of presidential handling of militarized interstate disputes has a significant and substantial negative impact on the president's ability to move legislation on domestic issues through Congress.

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Why Assessing Estimative Accuracy is Feasible and Desirable

Jeffrey Friedman & Richard Zeckhauser
Intelligence and National Security, forthcoming

Abstract:
The US Intelligence Community (IC) has been heavily criticized for making inaccurate estimates. Many scholars and officials believe that these criticisms reflect inappropriate generalizations from a handful of cases, thus producing undue cynicism about the IC's capabilities. Yet there is currently no way to evaluate this claim, because the IC does not systematically assess the accuracy of its estimates. Many scholars and practitioners justify this state of affairs by claiming that assessing estimative accuracy would be impossible, unwise, or both. This article shows how those arguments are generally unfounded. Assessing estimative accuracy is feasible and desirable. This would not require altering existing tradecraft and it would address several political and institutional problems that the IC faces today.

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Does globalization mitigate the adverse effects of terrorism on growth?

Javed Younas
Oxford Economic Papers, January 2015, Pages 133-156

Abstract:
This study identifies the damaging influence wielded by terrorism on the economy. It investigates whether international openness limits the negative consequences of terrorism on economic growth. The analysis is focused on 120 developing countries over the period 1976–2008. The positive interaction effect of terrorism and globalization suggests that the latter ameliorates the adverse impact of the former on growth. I also identify the critical values of the globalization index where the negative effects of both domestic and transnational terrorism are offset by the positive impact of openness; this, however, happens at a significantly high level of openness. The findings are robust to using the disaggregated measure of globalization and some individual indicators of economic openness. The result helps explain why the growth consequences of terrorism vary across nations and hold important policy implications.

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The Coming Stability? The Decline of Warfare in Africa and Implications for International Security

David Burbach & Christopher Fettweis
Contemporary Security Policy, Fall 2014, Pages 421-445

Abstract:
Anarchy was coming to Africa, Robert Kaplan warned in 1994, and a surge in conflict initially seemed to confirm that prediction. With less fanfare, however, after the year 2000, conflict in Africa declined, probably to the lowest levels ever. Recent fighting in Libya, Mali, South Sudan and elsewhere has prompted a new wave of ‘Africa falling apart’ concerns. This article reviews the history and data of conflict in Africa, from pre-colonial times to the present. Historical comparison and quantitative analysis based on the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) and Major Episodes of Political Violence (MEPV) datasets on the 1961–2013 period show that Africa has experienced a remarkable decline in warfare, whether measured in number of conflicts or fatalities. Warfare is a relatively low risk to the lives of most Africans. The years 2010–2013 saw an increase of 35 per cent in African battle deaths over 2005–2010, but they still are 87 per cent lower than the 1990–1999 average. Changes in external support and intervention, and the spread of global norms regarding armed conflict, have been most decisive in reducing the levels of warfare in the continent. Consequently, there is no Africa exception to the systemic shift towards lower levels of armed conflict.

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The Secret Success of Nonproliferation Sanctions

Nicholas Miller
International Organization, Fall 2014, Pages 913-944

Abstract:
Building on the rationalist literature on sanctions, this article argues that economic and political sanctions are a successful tool of nonproliferation policy, but that selection effects have rendered this success largely hidden. Since the late 1970s — when the United States made the threat of sanctions credible through congressional legislation and began regularly employing sanctions against proliferating states — sanctions have been ineffective in halting ongoing nuclear weapons programs, but they have succeeded in deterring states from starting nuclear weapons programs in the first place and have thus contributed to a decline in the rate of nuclear pursuit. The logic of the argument is simple: rational leaders assess the risk of sanctions before initiating a nuclear weapons program, which produces a selection effect whereby states highly vulnerable to sanctions are deterred from starting nuclear weapons programs in the first place, so long as the threat is credible. Vulnerability is a function of a state's level of economic and security dependence on the United States — states with greater dependence have more to lose from US sanctions and are more likely to be sensitive to US-sponsored norms. The end result of this selection effect is that since the late 1970s, only insulated, inward-looking regimes have pursued nuclear weapons and become the target of imposed sanctions, thus rendering the observed success rate of nonproliferation sanctions low. I find support for the argument based on statistical analysis of a global sample of countries from 1950 to 2000, an original data set of US nonproliferation sanctions episodes, and qualitative analysis of the South Korean and Taiwanese nuclear weapons programs.

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Decadal Reduction of Chinese Agriculture after a Regional Nuclear War

Lili Xia et al.
Earth's Future, forthcoming

Abstract:
A regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan could decrease global surface temperature by 1 to 2°C for 5 to 10 years, and have major impacts on precipitation and solar radiation reaching Earth's surface. Using a crop simulation model forced by three global climate model simulations, we investigate the impacts on agricultural production in China, the largest grain producer in the world. In the first year after the regional nuclear war, a cooler, drier, and darker environment would reduce annual rice production by 30 Mt (29%), maize production by 36 Mt (20%), and wheat production by 23 Mt (53%). With different agriculture managements – no irrigation, auto irrigation, 200 kg/ha nitrogen fertilizer and 10 days delayed planting date, simulated national crop productions reduce 16-26% for rice, 9-20% for maize and 32-43% for wheat during five years after the nuclear war event. This reduction of food availability would continue, with gradually decreasing amplitude, for more than a decade. Assuming these impacts are indicative of those in other major grain producers, a nuclear war using much less than 1% of the current global arsenal could produce a global food crisis and put a billion people at risk of famine.

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Argo and Zero Dark Thirty: Film, Government, and Audiences

Michelle Pautz
PS: Political Science & Politics, January 2015, Pages 120-128

Abstract:
With the prevalence and accessibility of film today, we must wonder how film affects its audience. In particular, how does film influence an audience’s perceptions of the government? Regardless of the content, research demonstrates that film has the power to shape perceptions of its moviegoers on a range of subjects. In this study, two recent films, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, were chosen as case studies to explore how Hollywood portrays the intelligence community in film and shapes opinions about the government more broadly. This research found that about 25% of viewers of the two films changed their opinion about the government after watching one of the movies. Additionally, many of those changes are reflected in an improvement in the sentiments about the government and its institutions. This exploratory research provokes interesting discussions about the ability of film to influence the perceptions of an audience.

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Buying Influence? Assessing the Political Effects of China’s International Trade

Scott Kastner
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is widely believed that China’s growing links to the global economy are translating into increased Chinese political influence abroad. This article explores this possibility quantitatively by examining whether increased trade with China correlates with an increased willingness by countries to accommodate Chinese interests. I use newly collected data that capture cross-national variation in the willingness of individual countries to support Chinese government positions relating to Taiwan and Tibet, and China’s status as a market economy. I find that increased trade dependence on China is correlated with an increased likelihood of taking an accommodating stance on the economic issue (market economy status). But the evidence linking trade to an accommodating stance on the political issues is more ambiguous.

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Oppressive governments, dependence on the USA, and anti-American terrorism

Thomas Gries, Daniel Meierrieks & Margarete Redlin
Oxford Economic Papers, January 2015, Pages 83-103

Abstract:
We study the nexus between US economic and military aid, human rights conditions, and the emergence of anti-American transnational terrorism in aid-receiving countries. Using data from 126 countries for the period 1984–2008, we show that a combination of local repression and military or economic dependence on the USA results in more anti-American terrorism. This relationship only breaks down at high levels of dependence. There is no evidence that the USA is made any safer by providing foreign assistance, even if this assistance is substantial or is channeled to highly oppressive regimes which might be less restricted in terms of their instruments of fighting terrorism. Our findings also hold true when we account for the potential endogeneity of US aid and human rights conditions to anti-American terrorism.

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Optimal contracting with private military and security companies

Matthias Fahn & Tahmina Hadjer
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) have been gaining increasing media and scholarly attention particularly due to their indispensable role in the wars in Afghanistan 2001 and Iraq 2003. Nevertheless, theoretical insights into the agency problems inherent when hiring PMSCs and how to optimally incentivize them are scarce. We study the complex relationship between intervening state, host state, and PMSC, taking into account the diverging interests of all involved parties as well as potential agency problems. We develop a theoretical model to characterize a state’s optimal choice whether to perform a task associated with an intervening mission itself, or hire a PMSC and optimally design the contract. We find that it might be optimal to hire PMSCs even if they are expected to do a worse job than the intervening state would do itself. Furthermore, the government’s reputation in rewarding PMSCs for a good performance is crucial and might render it optimal to only deal with a limited number of PMSCs - who are not necessarily always the most efficient providers.

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Peacekeepers Help, Governments Hinder

Eva Vivalt
NYU Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Conflict causes enormous suffering, but the study of peacekeeping is plagued by endogeneity issues. This paper uses an instrumental variables approach to estimate the effectiveness of U.N. peacekeepers at ending episodes of conflict, maintaining the peace once peace has been obtained, and preventing another episode from ever re-occurring. I find that the likelihood of being sent U.N. peacekeepers varies with temporary membership in the U.N. Security Council and exploit this variation in my estimation. This variation also suggests that the leaders of countries in conflict often do not want their country to receive peacekeepers. The results indicate that even though peacekeepers are often unwanted, they help to maintain the peace after an episode of conflict has ended and reduce the likelihood that the conflict resumes.

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International terrorism as a trade impediment?

Peter Egger & Martin Gassebner
Oxford Economic Papers, January 2015, Pages 42-62

Abstract:
This article uses monthly data on bilateral trade in conjunction with monthly data on terrorism events and associated fatalities to shed light on the impact of terrorism on trade. Employing a structural model of trade, we provide evidence that, if at all, international terrorism displays effects on bilateral and multilateral trade only in the medium run (more than one and a half years after an attack/incident). The pure short-run impact of international terror on trade appears very small, if not negligible.

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Military Coalitions and the Outcome of Interstate Wars

Daniel Morey
Foreign Policy Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
Approximately one-third of all interstate conflicts are multilateral, with the majority of these having a coalition of states fighting on at least one side. Despite the frequency of coalition wars, coalitions have not received much attention within the conflict literature. This paper presents the first general study on the effectiveness of coalitions during interstate wars. While there are many drawbacks to fighting as part of a coalition, the benefits of cooperation outweigh the cost, making coalitions more likely to win wars. An empirical examination of war outcomes between 1816 and 2007 confirms this hypothesis; coalitions have greater odds of victory than states fighting outside a coalition. This finding holds after controlling for possible endogeneity and selection bias.

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When Terrorists Go Bad: Analyzing Terrorist Organizations’ Involvement in Drug Smuggling

Victor Asal, Brinton Milward & Eric Schoon
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The intersection of terrorism and organized crime is a central global security concern. However, the conditions that contribute to this intersection or hinder its development are widely debated. Drawing on prominent cases of ideologically driven violent nonstate actors engaged in illicit economies, some scholars argue that this intersection is a logical evolution. Other scholars, focusing on the fact that relatively few groups engage in both organized crime and terrorism, argue that ideological differences hinder this intersection. We use data on 395 terrorist organizations to analyze how organizational and environmental factors affect the likelihood of terrorist involvement in illicit drug trafficking. Our analysis shows that the degree of connectivity within networks of terrorist groups is the most significant predictor of a group engaging in drug trafficking. Further, contrary to the theorized effects of ideology, an explicit religious ideology has no significant effect while an ethnopolitical ideology actually increases the likelihood of drug trafficking.

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Does Taglit-Birthright Israel Foster Long-Distance Nationalism?

Theodore Sasson et al.
Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Fall 2014, Pages 438-454

Abstract:
Taglit-Birthright Israel has brought hundreds of thousands of diaspora Jewish young adults on tours of Israel. Drawing on data from a large-scale program evaluation, we ask how the program affects participants’ feelings of homeland attachment and political views on contentious homeland issues. North Americans who traveled to Israel with Taglit between 2010 and 2012 were surveyed together with a comparison group of applicants to the program who did not participate. In multivariate analysis, Taglit sharply increases feelings of connection to Israel but has no effect on attitudes concerning the future of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The program modestly increases scores on a “favorability” scale and modestly increases opposition to a possible division of Jerusalem in a future peace deal. In contrast to Benedict Anderson's theory of long-distance nationalism, the findings suggest that feelings of homeland connection can be fostered without triggering ethnonationalist attitudes associated with the political right.

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Terrorism, Counterterrorism Aid, and Foreign Direct Investment

Chia-yi Lee
Foreign Policy Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
Foreign investors generally refrain from entering countries with high political risks. As an often seen type of political risk, terrorism may deter foreign investors by creating an unsafe investment environment. This paper explores whether terrorism reduces foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows and argues that foreign investors adjust their information by observing whether the host country has the capability to deal with terrorism. Foreign aid from the United States used specifically for counterterrorism is an effective signal of a recipient's counterterrorism potential. Using two commonly used terrorism data sets and drawing upon a time-series cross-sectional data analysis, this paper finds that while terrorism can be an obstacle to FDI inflows, countries that receive more counterterrorism aid are less vulnerable to this adverse effect. It also shows that conflict-tied aid mitigates the negative effect of terrorism on FDI because it sends a similar signal to foreign investors.

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China’s role as a global health donor in Africa: What can we learn from studying under reported resource flows?

Karen Grépin et al.
Globalization and Health, December 2014

Background: There is a growing recognition of China's role as a global health donor, in particular in Africa, but there have been few systematic studies of the level, destination, trends, or composition of these development finance flows or a comparison of China's engagement as a donor with that of more traditional global health donors.

Methods: Using newly released data from AidData on China's development finance activities in Africa, developed to track under reported resource flows, we identified 255 health, population, water, and sanitation (HPWS) projects from 2000-2012, which we descriptively analyze by activity sector, recipient country, project type, and planned activity. We compare China's activities to projects from traditional donors using data from the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Creditor Reporting System.

Results: Since 2000, China increased the number of HPWS projects it supported in Africa and health has increased as a development priority for China. China's contributions are large, ranking it among the top 10 bilateral global health donors to Africa. Over 50% of the HPWS projects target infrastructure, 40% target human resource development, and the provision of equipment and drugs is also common. Malaria is an important disease priority but HIV is not. We find little evidence that China targets health aid preferentially to natural resource rich countries.

Conclusions: China is an important global health donor to Africa but contrasts with traditional DAC donors through China's focus on health system inputs and on malaria. Although better data are needed, particularly through more transparent aid data reporting across ministries and agencies, China's approach to South-South cooperation represents an important and distinct source of financial assistance for health in Africa.

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Explaining Extremity in the Foreign Policies of Parliamentary Democracies

Ryan Beasley & Juliet Kaarbo
International Studies Quarterly, December 2014, Pages 729–740

Abstract:
Why do multiparty cabinets in parliamentary democracies produce more extreme foreign policies than single-party cabinets? Our paper argues that particular institutional and psychological dynamics explain this difference. We test this argument using a global events data set incorporating foreign policy behaviors of numerous multiparty and single-party governments. We find that more parties and weak parliaments promote extremity in coalitions, but parliamentary strength has the opposite effect for single-party governments. This study challenges existing expectations about the impact of democratic institutions on foreign policy.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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