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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Thanks for a good time

A Preliminary Examination of Cell Phone Use and Helping Behavior

Curtis Puryear & Stephen Reysen
Psychological Reports, December 2013, Pages 1001-1003

Abstract:
Use of a cell phone reduces attention and increases response times. 62 people (30 men, 32 women) were confronted with a confederate wearing a large leg brace, who dropped a stack of magazines and feigned difficulty retrieving them. Among the 33 people who talked on their cell phones only 9% offered their help, whereas among the 29 people who did not talk on their cell phones, 72% offered help. The use of cell phones affects helping behavior.

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Geographical Differences in Subjective Well-Being Predict Extraordinary Altruism

Kristin Brethel-Haurwitz & Abigail Marsh
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Altruistic kidney donation is a form of extraordinary altruism, the antecedents of which are poorly understood. Although well-being is known to increase the incidence of prosocial behaviors and there is significant geographical variation in both well-being and altruistic kidney donation in the United States, it is unknown whether geographical variation in well-being predicts the prevalence of this form of extraordinary altruism. We calculated per capita rates of altruistic kidney donation across the United States and found that an index of subjective well-being predicted altruistic donation, even after we controlled for relevant sociodemographic variables. This relationship persisted at the state level and at the larger geographic regional level. Consistent with hypotheses about the relationship between objective and subjective well-being, results showed that subjective well-being mediated the relationship between increases in objective well-being metrics, such as income, and altruism. These results suggest that extraordinary altruism may be promoted by societal factors that increase subjective well-being.

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Convincing Yourself to Care About Others: An Intervention for Enhancing Benevolence Values

Sharon Arieli, Adam Grant & Lilach Sagiv
Journal of Personality, February 2014, Pages 15–24

Abstract:
To study value change, this research presents an intervention with multiple exercises designed to instigate change through both effortful and automatic routes. Aiming to increase the importance attributed to benevolence values, which reflect the motivation to help and care for others, the intervention combines three mechanisms for value change (self-persuasion, consistency-maintenance, and priming). In three experiments, 142 undergraduates (67% male, ages 19–26) participated in an intervention emphasizing the importance of either helping others (benevolence condition) or recognizing flexibility in personality (control condition). We measured the importance of benevolence values before and after the task. In Experiment 1, the intervention increased U.S. participants' benevolence values. In Experiment 2, we replicated these effects in a different culture (Israel) and also showed that by enhancing benevolence values, the intervention increased participants' willingness to volunteer to help others. Experiment 3 showed that the increases in the importance of benevolence values lasted at least 4 weeks. Our results provide evidence that value change does not require fictitious feedback or information about social norms, but can occur through a 30-min intervention that evokes both effortful and automatic processes.

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Desire for a positive moral self-regard exacerbates escalation of commitment to initiatives with prosocial aims

Rebecca Schaumberg & Scott Wiltermuth
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, March 2014, Pages 110–123

Abstract:
Across three experiments, people escalated commitment more frequently to a failing prosocial initiative (i.e., an initiative that had the primary aim of improving the outcomes of others in need) than they did to a failing egoistic initiative (i.e., an initiative that had the primary aim of improving the outcomes of the decision-maker). A test of mediation (Study 1b) and a test of moderation (Study 2) each provided evidence that a desire for a positive moral self-regard underlies people’s tendency to escalate commitment more frequently to failing prosocial initiatives than to failing egoistic initiatives. We discuss the implications of these findings for the resource-allocation decisions that people and organizations face when undertaking initiatives with prosocial aims.

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Fundraising through online social networks: A field experiment on peer-to-peer solicitation

Marco Castillo, Ragan Petrie & Clarence Wardell
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Two main reasons why people donate to charity are that they have been asked and asked by someone they care about. One would therefore expect that charitable organizations could benefit from peer-to-peer fundraising if they were able to persuade donors to do so for them. However, little is known on the costs and benefits of asking donors to fundraise. We investigate this by implementing a field experiment embedded in an online giving organization’s web page. In our experiment, donors who have completed an online transaction were randomly asked to share having donated by posting on their Facebook (FB) wall or by sending a private message to a friend on FB. To further explore the impact of incentives on the willingness to fundraise, donors were also assigned to one of three treatments in which the organization added either $0, $1 or $5 in the donor's name in exchange for sharing the information. We have several findings: (1) Donors respond to incentives: larger add-on donations increase the willingness to post having made a donation. (2) Nuisance costs may be important: willingness to post is over two times higher among those already logged into FB. (3) The type of ask matters: willingness to post via one’s wall or via a private message is different. (4) There are benefits to incentivizing peer-to-peer fundraising in increased new donations.

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Hitchhiking and the ‘Sunshine Driver’: Further Effects of Weather Conditions on Helping Behavior

Nicolas Guéguen & Jordy Stefan
Psychological Reports, December 2013, Pages 994-1000

Abstract:
Previous studies have shown that pleasant weather conditions can improve people's mood and facilitate positive social relationships. The current study tested the effect of sunshine on drivers' willingness to give hitchhikers a ride. Four confederates (2 men, 2 women; M age = 20 yr.) acted as hitchhikers on the roadside in France, on sunny and cloudy days. To minimize the influence of other important variables, hitchhiking was conducted only when it was not raining and only when the external temperatures were between 20° and 24 °C. Motorists' behavior in 2,864 hitchhiking events was analyzed. The results showed that both male and female drivers stopped more on sunny days than on cloudy days for both male and female hitchhikers. Perhaps the positive mood induced by the sunshine promotes helping behaviors.

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Help-Seeking Helps: Help-Seeking and Group Image

Juliet Wakefield, Nick Hopkins & Ronni Michelle Greenwood
Small Group Research, February 2014, Pages 89-113

Abstract:
Seeking help from an outgroup can be difficult, especially when the outgroup is known to stereotype the ingroup negatively and the potential recipient cares strongly about its social image. However, we ask whether even highly identified ingroup members may seek help from a judgmental outgroup if doing so allows them to disconfirm the outgroup’s negative stereotype of the ingroup. We presented participants with one of two negative outgroup stereotypes of their ingroup. One could be disconfirmed through seeking help, the other could not. Study 1 (n = 43) showed group members were aware of the strategic implications of seeking help for disconfirming these stereotypes. Study 2 (n = 43) showed high identifiers acted on such strategic knowledge by seeking more help from the outgroup when help-seeking could disconfirm a negative stereotype of their group (than when it could not). Implications for the seeking and acceptance of help are discussed.

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Web disclosure and the market for charitable contributions

Gregory Saxton, Daniel Neely & Chao Guo
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Nonprofit organizations face intense competition in the market for charitable contributions. Increasingly, donation decisions are made online, and organizations have responded by implementing substantive Internet disclosure and reporting regimes. We posit here that the voluntary disclosure of financial and performance information inherent in these regimes provides additional relevant information to a broad array of market participants, and thus has a positive impact on the receipt of charitable contributions. We test our hypotheses on a random sample of 400 US nonprofit organizations by building on the well established economic model of giving (Weisbrod and Dominguez, 1986), in which donations serve as the proxy for demand. Our central research question is thus: Are donors willing to “pay” for Web disclosure? Results indicate a positive relationship between the level of charitable contributions and the amount of disclosure provided by an organization on its website; however, performance and annual report disclosure are more important than financial disclosure, and performance disclosure has the biggest impact in organizations that are less reliant on donations.

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Intrinsic Motivation, Effort and the Call to Public Service

Sheheryar Banuri & Philip Keefer
World Bank Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
Pay schemes in the public sector aim to attract motivated, high-ability applicants. A nascent literature has found positive effects of higher pay on ability and no or slightly positive effects on motivation. This paper revisits this issue with a novel subject pool, students destined for the private and public sectors in Indonesia. The analysis uses dictator games and real effort tasks to examine wage effects on a measure of motivation that exactly matches the mission of the public sector task. The model and experimental design allow for precisely measuring (1) the distribution of ability over the effort task; (2) the distribution of motivational preferences for public sector missions; and (3) outside options when choosing to work for public sector missions. Three novel conclusions emerge. First, more pro-social workers do, in fact, exert higher effort in a pro-social task. Second, in contrast to previous research, motivated individuals are more likely to join the public sector when public sector pay is low than when it is high. Third, real public sector workers exhibit greater pro-sociality than private sector workers, even for entrants into the Indonesian Ministry of Finance.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, February 14, 2014

Corporate veil

Religion and Stock Price Crash Risk

Jeffrey Callen & Xiaohua Fang
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines whether religiosity at the county level is associated with future stock price crash risk. We find robust evidence that firms headquartered in counties with higher levels of religiosity exhibit lower levels of future stock price crash risk. This finding is consistent with the view that religion, as a set of social norms, helps to curb bad news hoarding activities by managers. Our evidence further shows that the negative relation between religiosity and future crash risk is stronger for riskier firms and for firms with weaker governance mechanisms measured by shareholder takeover rights and dedicated institutional ownership.

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Military CEOs

Efraim Benmelech & Carola Frydman
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
There is mounting evidence of the influence of personal characteristics of CEOs on corporate outcomes. In this paper we analyze the relation between military service of CEOs and managerial decisions, financial policies, and corporate outcomes. Exploiting exogenous variation in the propensity to serve in the military, we show that military service is associated with conservative corporate policies and ethical behavior. Military CEOs pursue lower corporate investment, are less likely to be involved in corporate fraudulent activity, and perform better during industry downturns. Taken together, our results show that military service has significant explanatory power for managerial decisions and firm outcomes.

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The influence of economic context on the relationship between chief executive officer facial appearance and company profits

Nicholas Rule & Konstantin Tskhay
Leadership Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Inferences of leadership ability and personality from faces have been associated with leaders' efficacy across multiple domains. One influential factor that has only been scarcely explored, however, is the context in which leadership occurs. The present studies examined the effect of two such contextual variables: economic conditions across time and economic conditions across nations. In Study 1, inferences of leadership ability from the faces of American Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) predicted their companies' financial performance prior to the Financial Crisis of 2008 but not after. In Study 2, traits previously found to predict the success of American CEOs before the Financial Crisis (i.e., Power) predicted the success of CEOs in Germany in the year following the crisis but not in the US, consistent with the differential impact of the international recession in the two nations. These results suggest that economic events may affect the relationship between facial appearance and business leaders' success.

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Financial Crisis And Bank Executive Incentive Compensation

Sanjai Bhagat & Brian Bolton
Journal of Corporate Finance, April 2014, Pages 313–341

Abstract:
We study the executive compensation structure in 14 of the largest U.S. financial institutions during 2000–2008. We focus on the CEO’s purchases and sales of their bank’s stock, their salary and bonus, and the capital losses these CEOs incur due to the dramatic share price declines in 2008. We consider three measures of risk-taking by these banks. Our results are mostly consistent with and supportive of the findings of Bebchuk, Cohen and Spamann (2010), that is, managerial incentives matter - incentives generated by executive compensation programs are correlated with excessive risk-taking by banks. Also, our results are generally not supportive of the conclusions of Fahlenbrach and Stulz (2011) that the poor performance of banks during the crisis was the result of unforeseen risk. We recommend bank executive incentive compensation should only consist of restricted stock and restricted stock options – restricted in the sense that the executive cannot sell the shares or exercise the options for two to four years after their last day in office. The above incentive compensation proposal logically leads to a complementary proposal regarding a bank’s capital structure, namely, banks should be financed with considerably more equity than they are being financed currently.

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Right on Schedule: CEO Option Grants and Opportunism

Robert Daines, Grant Richard McQueen & Robert Schonlau
Stanford Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
In the wake of the backdating scandal, many firms began awarding options at the same time each year. These scheduled option grants eliminate backdating, but create other agency problems. CEOs that know the dates of upcoming scheduled option grants have an incentive to temporarily depress stock prices before the grant dates to obtain options with lower strike prices. We provide evidence that CEOs respond to this incentive and document negative abnormal returns before scheduled option grants and positive abnormal returns after the grants. These returns are explained by measures of a CEO's incentive and ability to influence stock price. We document several mechanisms CEOs use to lower the strike price, including changing the substance and timing of the firm’s disclosures.

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When Less is More: How Limits on Executive Pay Can Result in Greater Managerial Effort and the Adoption of Better Strategies

Peter Cebon & Benjamin Hermalin
University of California Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
We derive conditions under which state-imposed limits on executive compensation can enhance efficiency and benefit shareholders (but not executives). Having their hands tied in the future allows a board of directors to credibly enter into relational contracts with executives that are more efficient than performance-based contracts. This in turn can have implications for firm strategy and the ideal composition of the board. The analysis also offers insights into the political economy of executive-compensation reform.

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Political Connections and the Cost of Bank Loans

Joel Houston et al.
Journal of Accounting Research, March 2014, Pages 193–243

Abstract:
This paper analyzes whether the political connections of listed firms in the United States affect the cost and terms of loan contracts. Using a hand-collected data set of the political connections of S&P 500 companies over the 2003–2008 time period, we find that the cost of bank loans is significantly lower for companies that have board members with political ties. We consider two possible explanations for these findings: a Borrower Channel in which lenders charge lower rates because they recognize that connections enhance the borrower's credit worthiness and a Bank Channel in which banks assign greater value to connected loans to enhance their own relationships with key politicians. After employing a series of tests to distinguish between these two channels, we find strong support for the Borrower Channel but no direct evidence supporting the Bank Channel. Finally, we demonstrate that political connections reduce the likelihood of a capital expenditure restriction or liquidity requirement commanded by banks at the origination of the loan. Taken together, our results suggest that political connections increase the value of U.S. companies and reduce monitoring costs and credit risk faced by banks, which in turn, reduces the borrower's cost of debt.

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Executive Compensation and Board Governance in US Firms

Martin Conyon
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
US executive compensation has increased significantly since the early 1990s. This growth has been associated with the use of more equity pay (such as stock options and restricted stock) and less reliance on fixed salaries. Critics assert that the growth in CEO pay reflects a fundamental governance failure. Weak or compliant boards have failed to reign in managerial 'excess’. In practice, compensation committees determine executive pay contracts. Using US data from 2007 to 2012 I show that boards and compensation committees have become increasingly independent. I find no evidence that boards or compensation committees containing affiliated (i.e. nonindependent directors) are associated with higher levels of executive pay. The causes of high US compensation seem to lie elsewhere - not with a failure of compensation committees. In addition, the study finds that on average executive pay is positively correlated to firm performance and firm size. Women executives are paid less than their male counterparts after controlling for other economic determinants of executive pay. The governance of executive pay is changing post Dodd Frank. I show that the market for compensation advice is dominated by relatively few compensation consultants who are generally engaged by the board and not management. I also show the outcomes of non-binding mandatory shareholder voting on executive compensation ('Say on Pay’). Typically, shareholders overwhelmingly endorse executive pay plans at S&P 500 firms. Less than 2% of executive pay resolutions fail.

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Board Changes and CEO Turnover: The Unanticipated Effects of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act

Mustafa Dah, Melissa Frye & Matthew Hurst
Journal of Banking & Finance, April 2014, Pages 97–108

Abstract:
The board independence requirements enacted in conjunction with the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) provided motivation for firms that were already compliant with the regulations to alter their board structure. We consider actual board changes made by compliant firms and how such changes affect the monitoring efficiency of the boards. We find that the majority of compliant firms (approximately 56%) add independent directors following SOX. However, we find a nontrivial number of firms (approximately 26%) actually decrease the number of independent directors to move closer to the stated 50% requirement. For firms that decrease independence, the CEO turnover performance sensitivity significantly decreases following SOX. We also find that large board independence changes seem to be most detrimental to the monitoring function of the board. Our results highlight that SOX may have had unintended consequences.

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CEO Ownership, Stock Market Performance, and Managerial Discretion

Ulf von Lilienfeld-Toal & Stefan Ruenzi
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the relationship between CEO ownership and stock market performance. A strategy based on public information about managerial ownership delivers annual abnormal returns of 4% to 10%. The effect is strongest among firms with weak external governance, weak product market competition, and large managerial discretion, suggesting that CEO ownership can reverse the negative impact of weak governance. Furthermore, owner-CEOs are value increasing: they reduce empire building and run their firms more efficiently. Overall, our findings indicate that the market does not correctly price the incentive effects of managerial ownership, suggesting interesting feedback effects between corporate finance and asset pricing.

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Powerful Independent Directors

Kathy Fogel, Liping Ma & Randall Morck
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Shareholder valuations are economically and statistically positively correlated with more powerful independent directors, their power gauged by social network power centrality measures. Sudden deaths of powerful independent directors significantly reduce shareholder value, consistent with independent director power “causing” higher shareholder value. Further empirical tests associate more powerful independent directors with fewer value-destroying M&A bids, more high-powered CEO compensation and accountability for poor performance, and less earnings management. We posit that more powerful independent directors can better detect and counter managerial missteps because of their better access to information, their greater credibility in challenging errant top managers, or both.

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Public Equity and Audit Pricing in the U.S.

Brad Badertscher et al.
Journal of Accounting Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
To what degree are audit fees for U.S. firms with publicly traded equity higher than fees for otherwise similar firms with private equity? The answer is potentially important for evaluating regulatory regime design efficiency and for understanding audit demand and production economics. For U.S. firms with publicly-traded debt, we hold constant the regulatory regime, including mandated issuer reporting and auditor responsibilities. We vary equity ownership and thus public securities market contextual factors, including any related public firm audit fees from increased audit effort to reduce audit litigation risk and/or pure litigation risk premium (litigation channel effects). In cross-section, we find that audit fees for public equity firms are 20% to 22% higher than fees for otherwise similar private equity firms. Time-series comparisons for firms that change ownership status yield larger percentage fee increases (decreases) for those going public (private). Results are consistent with litigation channel effects giving rise to substantial incremental audit fees for U.S. firms with public equity ownership.

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CEO Age and the Riskiness of Corporate Policies

Matthew Serfling
Journal of Corporate Finance, April 2014, Pages 251–273

Abstract:
Prior theoretical work generates conflicting predictions with respect to how CEO age impacts risk-taking behavior. Consistent with the prediction that risk-taking behavior decreases as CEOs become older, I document a negative relation between CEO age and stock return volatility. Further analyses reveal that older CEOs reduce firm risk through less risky investment policies. Specifically, older CEOs invest less in research and development, make more diversifying acquisitions, manage firms with more diversified operations, and maintain lower operating leverage. Further, firm risk and the riskiness of corporate policies are lowest when both the CEO and the next most influential executive are older and highest when both of these managers are younger. Although older CEOs prefer less risky investment policies, I document results suggesting that CEO and firm risk preferences tend to be aligned. Lastly, I find that a trading strategy that goes long in a portfolio of stocks consisting of firms managed by younger CEOs and short in a portfolio of stocks comprised of firms led by older CEOs would generate positive risk-adjusted returns. Overall, my results imply that CEO age can have a significant impact on risk-taking behavior and firm performance.

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The Impact of Targets’ Social Performance on Acquisition Premiums

Mahfuja Malik
Boston University Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
This paper examines whether the corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance of target firms influences the acquisition premiums paid by the acquirers. Using U.S. public merger and acquisition (M&A) deals, I find that acquisition premiums increase in the targets’ perceived CSR quality, an effect incremental to previously-documented drivers of such premiums. These findings are also robust to (1) using different proxies for CSR measures and acquisition premiums, and (2) considering various dimensions of CSR (environment, community, employee, product, and diversity). Additional analysis reveals that the positive association between target firms’ CSR quality and acquisition premiums is stronger for high-CSR acquirers and larger targets. Overall, I combine the CSR and M&A literature by demonstrating that superior quality CSR performance affects acquisition premiums positively and thus expand our understanding of the value-driven role of CSR initiatives in a unique way.

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Do Overvaluation-driven Stock Acquisitions Really Benefit Acquirer Shareholders?

Mehmet Akbulut
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, August 2013, Pages 1025-1055

Abstract:
I study the effects of overvalued equity on acquisition activity and shareholder wealth, using managers’ insider trades to measure overvaluation. I find that overvalued equity drives managers to make stock acquisitions, and such acquisitions destroy value for acquirer shareholders. Overvalued stock acquirers earn negative and lower returns in the short run and substantially underperform similarly overvalued non-acquirer firms in the long run. My results do not support the idea that managers can benefit shareholders by converting overvalued equity into real assets through stock acquisitions.

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When Much More of a Difference Makes a Difference: Social Comparison and Tournaments in Top Management Teams

Jason Ridge, Federico Aime & Margaret White
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We integrate the seemingly contradictory theoretical predictions of behavioral and economic perspectives about the relationship between pay disparity and firm performance and show that tournament and social comparison theories are more supplementary than contradictory in nature. Our results show that high levels of firm performance will be found around either meaningfully low or meaningfully high levels of pay disparity. Additional findings indicate that this curvilinear relationship is weakened in the presence of both an heir apparent and high CEO power, and strengthened when top management team members are more eligible as CEOs. These findings suggest that factors that increase or inhibit social comparison or tournament perceptions among TMT members play a role in the strength of the curvilinear relationship between pay disparity and firm performance.

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Thirty Years of Shareholder Rights and Firm Value

Martijn Cremers & Allen Ferrell
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper introduces a new hand-collected data set that tracks restrictions on shareholder rights at approximately 1,000 firms from 1978 to 1989. In conjunction with the 1990 to 2006 IRRC data, we track shareholder rights over 30 years. Most governance changes occurred during the 1980s. We find a robustly negative association between restrictions on shareholder rights (using G-Index as a proxy) and Tobin's Q. The negative association only appears after judicial approval of antitakeover defenses in the 1985 landmark Delaware Supreme Court decision of Moran v. Household. This decision was an unanticipated exogenous shock that increased the importance of shareholder rights.

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Board composition and CEO power

Tim Baldenius, Nahum Melumad & Xiaojing Meng
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the optimal composition of corporate boards. Directors can be either monitoring or advisory types. Monitoring constrains the empire-building tendency of chief executive officers (CEOs). If shareholders control the board nomination process, a non-monotonic relation ensues between agency problems and board composition. To preempt CEO entrenchment, shareholders may assemble an adviser-heavy board. If a powerful CEO influences the nomination process, this may result in a more monitor-heavy board. Regulations strengthening the monitoring role of boards can be harmful in precisely those cases in which agency problems are severe or in which CEO entrenchment is a threat to corporate governance.

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Director Human Capital, Information Processing Demands, and Board Effectiveness

Poonam Khanna, Carla Jones & Steven Boivie
Journal of Management, February 2014, Pages 557-585

Abstract:
Research on human capital as a source of competitive advantage has focused largely on firm employees. In this article, we argue that outside directors’ general human capital can also be a source of competitive advantage. Firm performance is likely to benefit from directors’ human capital — that is, their prior experience and education — because such human capital is likely to make them more effective at monitoring management and providing advice. Drawing on insights from research on individuals’ cognitive limitations, we further argue that the extent to which the firm is able to benefit from this human capital can be severely limited by the demands for information processing that directors face from their other board positions. Consequently, we find that the benefit of directors’ human capital is contingent upon the information processing load placed upon them from their other board appointments. We find support for our hypotheses using data on over 5,700 directors from 650 firms sampled from the Fortune 1000. This study extends the nascent literature on board human capital by showing that in addition to specific expertise in relevant areas, directors’ general human capital can also help firms create competitive advantage. The theory developed in this article also contributes to the literature on strategic human capital by incorporating the concept of information processing demands, suggesting that not only do such demands leave limited cognitive capacity for directors to focus on the focal firm but also that they can severely diminish the beneficial effects of directors’ general human capital.

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A Structural Estimation of the Cost of Suboptimal Matching in the CEO Labor Market

Jordan Nickerson
University of Texas Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
Using a structural model, I examine the distortionary effects of frictions in the CEO labor market. Firms experience productivity shocks over time and either outgrow or underutilize their incumbent CEO's talent, but keep their manager to avoid a switching cost. The decision to replace a manager depends on the magnitude of the cost and dispersion of CEO talent. I find CEO talent to be quite heterogeneous. Additionally, I estimate the switching cost to be 20% of the median firm's annual earnings. While reduced-form estimates of the switching cost serve as a lower bound on the reduction in firm value, they underestimate the overall effect which also includes the resulting inefficient firm-CEO matches. Using counterfactual analysis, the switching cost is estimated to decrease the median firm's value by 4.8%, four times larger than the reduced-form estimate. While firms experience an observable decrease in earnings when finally replacing CEOs, I find evidence of a considerable unobservable cost associated with the inability of firms and managers to be optimally matched in the cross-section.

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Staggered Boards and Firm Value, Revisited

Martijn Cremers, Lubomir Litov & Simone Sepe
University of Notre Dame Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
This paper revisits the association between firm value (as proxied by Tobin’s Q) and whether the firm has a staggered board. As is well known, in the cross-section firms with a staggered board tend to have a lower value. Using a comprehensive sample for 1978-2011, we show an opposite result in the time series: firms that adopt a staggered board increase in firm value, while de-staggering is associated with a decrease in firm value. We further show that the decision to adopt a staggered board seems endogenous, and related to an ex ante lower firm value, which helps reconciling the existing cross-sectional results to our novel time series results. To explain our new results, we explore potential incentive problems in the shareholder-manager relationship. Short-term oriented shareholders may generate myopic incentives for the firm to underinvest in risky long-term projects. In this case, a staggered board may helpfully insulate the board from opportunistic shareholder pressure. Consistent with this, we find that the adoption of a staggered board has a stronger positive association with firm value for firms where such incentive problems are likely more severe: firms with more R&D, more intangible assets, more innovative and larger and thus likely more complex firms.

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Do Target CEOs Trade Premiums for Personal Benefits?

Buhui Qiu, Svetoslav Trapkov & Fadi Yakoub
Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a sample of 2,198 completed M&A transactions between 1994 and 2010 in which both target and acquirer are public US firms supplemented with hand-collected data for target CEO retention, we uncover a significantly negative relation between target CEO retention and takeover premiums received by target shareholders. Further, when the target CEO was not retained, we document a significantly negative relation between the relative importance of the severance pay received by the target CEO and takeover premium. Taken together, our findings, which hold in various robustness tests, suggest that target CEOs bargain shareholder value for personal benefits during corporate takeovers. Our findings have important policy implications for takeover disclosures.

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Governing Misvalued Firms

Dalida Kadyrzhanova & Matthew Rhodes-Kropf
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
Equity overvaluation is thought to create the potential for managerial misbehavior, while monitoring and corporate governance curb misbehavior. We combine these two insights from the literatures on misvaluation and governance to ask 'when does governance matter?' Examining firms with standard long-run measures of corporate governance as they are shocked by plausible misvaluation, we provide consistent evidence that firm performance is impacted by governance when firms become overvalued – overvaluation causes weaker performance in poorly governed firms. Our findings imply that firm oversight is important during market booms, just when stock prices suggest all is well.

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CEO Turnover and the Reduction of Price Sensitivity

Michael Alderson, Naresh Bansal & Brian Betker
Journal of Corporate Finance, April 2014, Pages 376–386

Abstract:
We examine managerial compensation and wealth sensitivities around CEO changes. The average new CEO is incentivized to increase the risk of the firm primarily because he holds significantly less stock than his predecessor, and in fact riskier policy choices are subsequently implemented. Similar results are obtained in a subsample of CEO changes that are due to retirements and deaths, which alleviates concerns about endogeneity. Our findings indicate that firms seem to be limited in their ability to mitigate the risk-averse behavior caused by large CEO shareholdings.

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Technological Change, Job Tasks, and CEO Pay

Jason Kotter
University of Michigan Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
This paper examines how changes in the composition of the human capital of the workforce impact the CEO. Over the last fifty years, technological change has caused the tasks workers perform to shift from routine to nonroutine work. I estimate that these changes in the workforce caused CEO pay to double over the last thirty years, explaining roughly one-third of the aggregate increase in CEO pay. Consistent with this effect being caused by synergies between CEOs and nonroutine workers, I use text analysis of 10-K statements to show that managers of nonroutine workforces focus relatively more on employees and that this focus leads to large increases in firm value and profitability. Together, these results suggest that a substantial portion of the increase in CEO pay over the past three decades represents an optimal response to technological change.

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Can Strong Boards and Trading Their Own Firm’s Stock Help CEOs Make Better Decisions? Evidence from Acquisitions by Overconfident CEOs

Adam Kolasinski & Xu Li
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, August 2013, Pages 1173-1206

Abstract:
Little evidence exists on whether boards help managers make better decisions. We provide evidence that strong and independent boards help overconfident CEOs avoid honest mistakes when they seek to acquire other companies. In addition, we find that once-overconfident CEOs make better acquisition decisions after they experience personal stock trading losses, providing evidence that a manager’s recent personal experience, and not just educational and early career experience, influences firm investment policy. Finally, we develop and validate a new CEO overconfidence measure that is easily constructed from machine-readable insider trading data, unlike previously-used measures.

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R&D and the High Cash Holdings in the U.S.

Zhaozhao He
University of Kansas Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
This paper re-examines the factors that have contributed to the dramatic increase in the average cash-to-assets ratio in U.S. firms since 1980. The analysis first shows that this increase is driven almost entirely by the increase in cash-to-assets ratio of R&D intensive firms. Further, the results suggest that the biggest increase in cash holdings over the last three decades has been in financially constrained R&D intensive firms in competitive industries with volatile cash flows. Since 1980 there has been a fundamental shift in how firms finance R&D, and these findings suggest that R&D intensive firms are increasingly using their cash holdings to overcome the increased volatility of major financing sources: cash flow and stock issues. Finally, the data reveals strong evidence that intensified competition contributes to the increased cash holdings of R&D firms using exogenous variation in competition.

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The impact of SOX on opportunistic management behavior

François Aubert & Gary Grudnitski
International Review of Financial Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
An innovative aspect of this study is the use of a relatively new metric to capture opportunistic earnings management behavior. We define opportunistic earnings management as the difference between a firm’s US-GAAP earnings and ex post earnings consensus derived from forecasts of financial analysts who follow that firm. Using over 24,500 quarterly reports of over 2,500 publicly-traded companies spanning two, three-year periods, and controlling for factors previously linked to having an effect on earnings management and analysts forecast effort, we find statistical evidence supporting the proposition that, in the aggregate, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) has served as a constraint on curbing opportunistic earnings management behavior, and thus should be considered as an effective means to improve the quality of financial reporting information.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bearing

Abortion Incidence and Service Availability In the United States, 2011

Rachel Jones & Jenna Jerman
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, forthcoming

Context: Following a long-term decline, abortion incidence stabilized between 2005 and 2008. Given the proliferation of state-level abortion restrictions, it is critical to assess abortion incidence and access to services since that time.

Methods: In 2012–2013, all facilities known or expected to have provided abortion services in 2010 and 2011 were surveyed. Data on the number of abortions were combined with population data to estimate national and state-level abortion rates. Incidence of abortions was assessed by provider type and caseload. Information on state abortion regulations implemented between 2008 and 2011 was collected, and possible relationships with abortion rates and provider numbers were considered.

Results: In 2011, an estimated 1.1 million abortions were performed in the United States; the abortion rate was 16.9 per 1,000 women aged 15–44, representing a drop of 13% since 2008. The number of abortion providers declined 4%; the number of clinics dropped 1%. In 2011, 89% of counties had no clinics, and 38% of women of reproductive age lived in those counties. Early medication abortions accounted for a greater proportion of nonhospital abortions in 2011 (23%) than in 2008 (17%). Of the 106 new abortion restrictions implemented during the study period, few or none appeared to be related to state-level patterns in abortion rates or number of providers.

Conclusions: The national abortion rate has resumed its decline, and no evidence was found that the overall drop in abortion incidence was related to the decrease in providers or to restrictions implemented between 2008 and 2011.

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Shifts in Intended and Unintended Pregnancies in the United States, 2001–2008

Lawrence Finer & Mia Zolna
American Journal of Public Health, February 2014, Pages S43-S48

Objectives: We monitored trends in pregnancy by intendedness and outcomes of unintended pregnancies nationally and for key subgroups between 2001 and 2008.

Methods: Data on pregnancy intentions from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) and a nationally representative survey of abortion patients were combined with counts of births (from the National Center for Health Statistics), counts of abortions (from a census of abortion providers), estimates of miscarriages (from the NSFG), and population denominators from the US Census Bureau to obtain pregnancy rates by intendedness.

Results: In 2008, 51% of pregnancies in the United States were unintended, and the unintended pregnancy rate was 54 per 1000 women ages 15 to 44 years. Between 2001 and 2008, intended pregnancies decreased and unintended pregnancies increased, a shift previously unobserved. Large disparities in unintended pregnancy by relationship status, income, and education increased; the percentage of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion decreased; and the rate of unintended pregnancies ending in birth increased, reaching 27 per 1000 women.

Conclusions: Reducing unintended pregnancy likely requires addressing fundamental socioeconomic inequities, as well as increasing contraceptive use and the uptake of highly effective methods.

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A Generation of Childless Women: Lessons from the United States

Benjamin Craig et al.
Women's Health Issues, January–February 2014, Pages e21–e27

Background: Childlessness is a major public health concern in the United States, particularly among educated adults. Among women who turned 45 in 2006, one fifth had no children. We examine the likelihood that a childless woman wants a baby sometime in the future and its determinants.

Methods: From 2006 to 2010, 5,410 in-person interview surveys were conducted with childless women as part of the National Survey of Family Growth. Age-specific likelihoods of wanting a baby were compared with likelihoods of having a baby before age 45. Female respondents were 1) born after 1960, 2) age 15 to 44, 3) childless (never given birth to a live infant), and 4) not pregnant at time of interview.

Findings: Most childless women at any age want a baby sometime in the future. By age 32, fewer than half the childless women who want a baby will have one. At age 39, the majority of childless women (73%) still want a baby someday, but only 7% will have one. By age 45, more than 1 in 10 women will be childless, but still want to have a baby.

Conclusions: Although attitudes toward childlessness have become more positive over time, our findings suggest that the United States is experiencing a high prevalence of childless women who want a baby. Clinicians may consider counseling young women about age-related declines in fertility and the costs and success rates of assisted reproductive echnologies often required for women with advanced maternal age to better inform their career, family, and lifestyle decisions.

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Media Influences on Social Outcomes: The Impact of MTV's 16 and Pregnant on Teen Childbearing

Melissa Kearney & Phillip Levine
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
This paper explores how specific media images affect adolescent attitudes and outcomes. The specific context examined is the widely viewed MTV franchise, 16 and Pregnant, a series of reality TV shows including the Teen Mom sequels, which follow the lives of pregnant teenagers during the end of their pregnancy and early days of motherhood. We investigate whether the show influenced teens’ interest in contraceptive use or abortion, and whether it ultimately altered teen childbearing outcomes. We use data from Google Trends and Twitter to document changes in searches and tweets resulting from the show, Nielsen ratings data to capture geographic variation in viewership, and Vital Statistics birth data to measure changes in teen birth rates. We find that 16 and Pregnant led to more searches and tweets regarding birth control and abortion, and ultimately led to a 5.7 percent reduction in teen births in the 18 months following its introduction. This accounts for around one-third of the overall decline in teen births in the United States during that period.

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US infant mortality and the President’s party

Javier Rodriguez, John Bound & Arline Geronimus
International Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Background: Infant mortality rates in the US exceed those in all other developed countries and in many less developed countries, suggesting political factors may contribute.

Methods: Annual time series on overall, White and Black infant mortality rates in the US were analysed over the 1965–2010 time period to ascertain whether infant mortality rates varied across presidential administrations. Data were de-trended using cubic splines and analysed using both graphical and time series regression methods.

Results: Across all nine presidential administrations, infant mortality rates were below trend when the President was a Democrat and above trend when the President was a Republican. This was true for overall, neonatal and postneonatal mortality. Regression estimates show that, relative to trend, Republican administrations were characterized by infant mortality rates that were, on average, 3% higher than Democratic administrations. In proportional terms, effect size is similar for US Whites and Blacks. US Black rates are more than twice as high as White, implying substantially larger absolute effects for Blacks.

Conclusions: We found a robust, quantitatively important association between net of trend US infant mortality rates and the party affiliation of the president. There may be overlooked ways by which macro-dynamics of policy impact microdynamics of physiology, suggesting the political system is a component of the underlying mechanism generating health inequality in the USA.

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The Effect of Changes in State and Federal Policy for Non-Prescription Access to Emergency Contraception on Youth Contraceptive Use: A Difference-in-Difference Analysis Across New England States

Danielle Atkins & David Bradford
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
One of the more contentious policy changes in the past decade in the United States involves the decisions by several state legislatures and the FDA to permit sales of emergency contraception on a non-prescription basis. We took advantage of a set of natural experiments to estimate the impact of changes in state and federal level non-prescription emergency contraception access on the probability high school students’ sexual and contraceptive behaviors. We extracted data from the Youth Risk Behavioral Survey for New England states that had data about contraceptive use (Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) from 2003 to 2009. We combined this student-level data with information on when states and the FDA began allowing non-prescription sales of EC. We estimated a series of difference-in-difference models on the impact of these policies on the probability that students were sexually active and on the probability of condom or hormonal birth control use conditional on sexual activity. We found that switching emergency contraception to a non-prescription status had no systematic effect on the probability of sexual activity or the conditional probability of hormonal birth control use, but that it significantly reduced the probability that public school students used condoms by between 5.2% and 7.2%.

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Association between Increased Emergency Contraception Availability and Risky Sexual Practices

Danielle Atkins & David Bradford
University of Georgia Working Paper, December 2013

Objective: We studied whether increased EC availability for women over age 18 was associated with a higher probability of risky sexual practices.

Data Sources: 34,030 individual/year observations on 3,786 women aged 18 and older were extracted from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 from October 1999 through November 2009.

Study Design: We modeled three binary outcome variables: whether or not the respondent reported any sexual activity; whether or not the respondent reported sexual activity with more than one partner; and whether or not the respondent’s with multiple sexual partners reported any unprotected sex. We estimate our models three times: once for the full sample of women; once for the sub-sample of married or cohabitating women; and once for the sub-sample of single women.

Principal Findings: We found that greater access to EC reduced the probability of sexual activity by about -5% for women and reduced the probability of multiple sexual partners for women by -4.4%, but also increased the probability of unprotected sex when women had multiple partners by about 5%.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that policies for expanding EC access may need to be paired with education about its inability to control STI risk.

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The Effect of State-Level Sex Education Policies on Youth Sexual Behaviors

Danielle Atkins & David Bradford
University of Georgia Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
Two types of sex education are generally offered in the United States: abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education. There is no clear scientific consensus over which approach minimizes the risk of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases for teens. While there have been many studies of specific programs in clinical or quasi-experimental settings, there are very few evaluations of how state-level sex education policies affect the youth population. We estimate the impact of various state-level sex education policies on youth sexual activity and contraceptive use using data from four waves of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System from 39 states. We find that states that require sexuality (sex and/or HIV/STD) education and contraceptive content or states that mandate education but leave the actual content up to local districts have higher rates of contraception use when teens are sexually active. States that require sexuality education and require abstinence content decrease the likelihood that sexually active teens use condoms or hormonal birth control. None of the policies significantly reduce sexual activity.

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The Effect of Plan B on Teen Abortions: Evidence from the 2006 FDA Ruling

Inna Cintina & Morgen Johansen
University of Hawaii Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
The 2006 FDA ruling made Plan B, the popular brand of emergency contraception (EC), available without a doctor's prescription to women 18 and older; women younger than 18 still have to produce a doctor's prescription for the drug. We hypothesize that since unplanned pregnancies are more likely to be terminated, an increase in the availability of EC may lead to a decrease in the abortion rate among women affected by the ruling. Therefore, in the absence of a change in the sexual risk taking, we expect to observe a decline in the abortion rate among women aged 18 and 19 after 2006, and expect no change in the abortion rate for women aged 15 and 16. We use the difference-in-difference methodology on the age-by-year-by-state abortion data to test this hypothesis. In contrast to the related literature, we find a moderate reduction in abortion rates among women age 18 and 19 in years after 2006 in states that were affected by the change, compared to changes in the control group in the same states. Yet, we do not observe a similar large change in abortion rates among women age 20-24.

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Citizenship, Fertility and Parental Investment

Ciro Avitabile, Irma Clots-Figueras & Paolo Masella
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Citizenship rights are associated with better economic opportunities for immigrants. This paper studies how in a country with a large fraction of temporary migrants the fertility decisions of foreign citizens respond to a change in the rules that regulate child legal status at birth. The introduction of birthright citizenship in Germany, as part of the new German nationality law that came into force in 2000, represented a positive shock to the returns to investment in child human capital. Consistent with Becker's "quality-quantity" model of fertility, we find that birthright citizenship leads to a reduction in immigrant fertility and an improvement in health outcomes for the children affected by the reform.

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The Immigrant Paradox in Pregnancy: Explaining the First-Generation Advantage for Latina Adolescents

Tristan Guarini et al.
Journal of Research on Adolescence, forthcoming

Abstract:
The immigrant paradox is a population health pattern whereby later generation immigrant youth display less favorable outcomes when compared to first-generation co-ethnic peers. This study examines the role of number of sex partners in explaining the immigrant paradox in pregnancy among Latina adolescents. This secondary analysis utilized a nationally representative sample of Latinas in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. As expected, first-generation Latina adolescents demonstrated less risk than second- or third+ generation Latinas for becoming pregnant. Further, the lower number of sexual partners fully accounted for the first generation's advantage in lower rate of adolescent pregnancy. These findings have important implications for healthcare providers who work with Latina girls in pregnancy prevention.

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Delayed pregnancy testing and second-trimester abortion: Can public health interventions assist with earlier detection of unintended pregnancy?

Megan Swanson et al.
Contraception, forthcoming

Background: Delayed pregnancy testing has been associated with presentation for abortion in the second trimester. Little is known about acceptability of potential interventions to hasten pregnancy recognition.

Study design: 592 women presenting for abortion at six clinics in the United States completed surveys on contraceptive use, risk behavior, timing of first pregnancy test and interest in interventions to speed pregnancy recognition and testing.

Results: 48% of women presenting for second-trimester abortion delayed testing until at least 8 weeks. In multivariate analysis, women who often spotted between periods had higher odds of delaying pregnancy testing (odds ratio, OR, 2.7, 95% confidence interval, CI, 1.04-6.94). Women who often missed periods had higher odds of second trimester abortion (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.34-3.13). The majority (64%) of women were not aware of a fertile time in the menstrual cycle; these women had higher odds of second trimester abortion (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.21-3.37). 94% of women expressed interest in at least one potential intervention to help recognize pregnancy earlier.

Conclusions: While there was near universal interest in earlier pregnancy recognition, no single proposed intervention or scenario was endorsed by the majority. Improving sexual health awareness is an important consideration in future efforts to expedite pregnancy testing.

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Fertility Rate Trends Among Adolescent Girls With Major Mental Illness: A Population-Based Study

Simone Vigod et al.
Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objective: Fertility rates among adolescents have decreased substantially in recent years, yet fertility rates among adolescent girls with mental illness have not been studied. We examined temporal trends in fertility rates among adolescent girls with major mental illness.

Methods: We conducted a repeated annual cross-sectional study of fertility rates among girls aged 15 to 19 years in Ontario, Canada (1999–2009). Girls with major mental illness were identified through administrative health data indicating the presence of a psychotic, bipolar, or major depressive disorder within 5 years preceding pregnancy (60 228 person-years). The remaining girls were classified into the comparison group (4 496 317 person-years). The age-specific fertility rate (number of live births per 1000 girls) was calculated annually and by using 3-year moving averages for both groups.

Results: The incidence of births to girls with major mental illness was 1 in 25. The age-specific fertility rate for girls with major mental illness was 44.9 per 1000 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 43.3–46.7) compared with 15.2 per 1000 (95% CI: 15.1–15.3) in unaffected girls (rate ratio: 2.95; 95% CI: 2.84–3.07). Over time, girls with major mental illness had a smaller reduction in fertility rate (relative rate: 0.86; 95% CI: 0.78–0.96) than did unaffected girls (relative rate: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.76–0.79).

Conclusions: These results have key clinical and public policy implications. Our findings highlight the importance of considering major mental illness in the design and implementation of pregnancy prevention programs as well as in targeted antenatal and postnatal programs to ensure maternal and child well-being.

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Community-level education accelerates the cultural evolution of fertility decline

Heidi Colleran et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 22 March 2014

Abstract:
Explaining why fertility declines as populations modernize is a profound theoretical challenge. It remains unclear whether the fundamental drivers are economic or cultural in nature. Cultural evolutionary theory suggests that community-level characteristics, for example average education, can alter how low-fertility preferences are transmitted and adopted. These assumptions have not been empirically tested. Here, we show that community-level education accelerates fertility decline in a way that is neither predicted by individual characteristics, nor by the level of economic modernization in a population. In 22 high-fertility communities in Poland, fertility converged on a smaller family size as average education in the community increased — indeed community-level education had a larger impact on fertility decline than did individual education. This convergence was not driven by educational levels being more homogeneous, but by less educated women having fewer children than expected, and more highly educated social networks, when living among more highly educated neighbours. The average level of education in a community may influence the social partners women interact with, both within and beyond their immediate social environments, altering the reproductive norms they are exposed to. Given a critical mass of highly educated women, less educated neighbours may adopt their reproductive behaviour, accelerating the pace of demographic transition. Individual characteristics alone cannot capture these dynamics and studies relying solely on them may systematically underestimate the importance of cultural transmission in driving fertility declines. Our results are inconsistent with a purely individualistic, rational-actor model of fertility decline and suggest that optimization of reproduction is partly driven by cultural dynamics beyond the individual.

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The quality–quantity trade-off: Evidence from the relaxation of China’s one-child policy

Haoming Liu
Journal of Population Economics, April 2014, Pages 565-602

Abstract:
This paper uses the exogenous variation in fertility introduced by China’s family planning policies to identify the impact of child quantity on child quality. We find that the number of children has a significant negative effect on child height, which supports the quality–quantity trade-off theory. Our instrumental quantile regression approach shows that the impact varies considerably across the height distribution, particularly for boys. However, the trade-off is much weaker if quality is measured by educational attainments, suggesting that the measurement of child quality is also crucial in testing the quality–quantity trade-off theory.

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Uterine Selection of Human Embryos at Implantation

Jan Brosens et al.
Scientific Reports, February 2014

Abstract:
Human embryos frequently harbor large-scale complex chromosomal errors that impede normal development. Affected embryos may fail to implant although many first breach the endometrial epithelium and embed in the decidualizing stroma before being rejected via mechanisms that are poorly understood. Here we show that developmentally impaired human embryos elicit an endoplasmic stress response in human decidual cells. A stress response was also evident upon in vivo exposure of mouse uteri to culture medium conditioned by low-quality human embryos. By contrast, signals emanating from developmentally competent embryos activated a focused gene network enriched in metabolic enzymes and implantation factors. We further show that trypsin, a serine protease released by pre-implantation embryos, elicits Ca2+ signaling in endometrial epithelial cells. Competent human embryos triggered short-lived oscillatory Ca2+ fluxes whereas low-quality embryos caused a heightened and prolonged Ca2+ response. Thus, distinct positive and negative mechanisms contribute to active selection of human embryos at implantation.

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Behavioral and Psychosocial Effects of Two Middle School Sexual Health Education Programs at Tenth-Grade Follow-Up

Christine Markham et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, February 2014, Pages 151–159

Purpose: An earlier randomized controlled trial found that two middle school sexual education programs—a risk avoidance (RA) program and a risk reduction (RR) program—delayed initiation of sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal, or anal sex) and reduced other sexual risk behaviors in ninth grade. We examined whether these effects extended into 10th grade.

Methods: Fifteen middle schools were randomly assigned to RA, RR, or control conditions. Follow-up surveys were conducted with participating students in 10th grade (n = 1,187; 29.2% attrition).

Results: Participants were 60% female, 50% Hispanic, and 39% black; seventh grade mean age was 12.6 years. In 10th grade, compared with the control condition, both programs significantly delayed anal sex initiation in the total sample (RA: adjusted odds ratio [AOR], .64, 95% confidence interval [CI], .42–.99; RR: AOR, .65, 95% CI, .50–.84) and among Hispanics (RA: AOR, .53, 95% CI, .31–.91; RR: AOR, .82, 95% CI, .74–.93). Risk avoidance students were less likely to report unprotected vaginal sex, either by using a condom or by abstaining from sex (AOR: .61, 95% CI, .45–.85); RR students were less likely to report recent unprotected anal sex (AOR: .34, 95% CI, .20–.56). Both programs sustained positive impact on some psychosocial outcomes.

Conclusions: Although both programs delayed anal sex initiation into 10th grade, effects on the delayed initiation of oral and vaginal sex were not sustained. Additional high school sexual education may help to further delay sexual initiation and reduce other sexual risk behaviors in later high school years.

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Risk Perceptions and Subsequent Sexual Behaviors After HPV Vaccination in Adolescents

Allison Mayhew et al.
Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objectives: Concerns have been raised that human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination could lead to altered risk perceptions and an increase in risky sexual behaviors among adolescents. The aim of this study was to assess whether adolescent risk perceptions after the first vaccine dose predicted subsequent sexual behaviors.

Methods: Young women 13 to 21 years of age (N = 339) completed questionnaires immediately after HPV vaccination, and 2 and 6 months later, assessing demographic characteristics, knowledge/attitudes about HPV vaccination, risk perceptions, and sexual behaviors. Risk perceptions were measured by using 2 5-item scales assessing: (1) perceived risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI) other than HPV, and (2) perceived need for safer sexual behaviors after HPV vaccination. We assessed associations between risk perceptions at baseline and sexual behaviors over the next 6 months by using logistic regression, stratifying participants by sexual experience at baseline and age (13–15 vs 16–21 years).

Results: Among all sexually inexperienced participants (42.5%), baseline risk perceptions were not associated with subsequent sexual initiation; in age-stratified analyses, girls 16 to 21 years of age who reported lower perceived risk for other STI (an inappropriate perception) were less likely to initiate sex (odds ratio [OR] 0.13, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.03–0.69). Among all sexually experienced participants (57.5%) and in age-stratified analyses, baseline risk perceptions were not associated with subsequent number of sexual partners or condom use.

Conclusions: Risk perceptions after HPV vaccination were not associated with riskier sexual behaviors over the subsequent 6 months in this study sample.

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Trends in Maternal Morbidity Before and During Pregnancy in California

Moshe Fridman et al.
American Journal of Public Health, February 2014, Pages S49-S57

Objectives: We examined trends in maternal comorbidities in California.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 1 551 017 California births using state-linked vital statistics and hospital discharge cohort data for 1999, 2002, and 2005. We used International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification codes to identify the following conditions, some of which were preexisting: maternal hypertension, diabetes, asthma, thyroid disorders, obesity, mental health conditions, substance abuse, and tobacco use. We estimated prevalence rates with hierarchical logistic regression models, adjusting for demographic shifts, and also examined racial/ethnic disparities.

Results: The prevalence of these comorbidities increased over time for hospital admissions associated with childbirth, suggesting that pregnant women are getting sicker. Racial/ethnic disparities were also significant. In 2005, maternal hypertension affected more than 10% of all births to non-Hispanic Black mothers; maternal diabetes affected nearly 10% of births to Asian/Pacific Islander mothers (10% and 43% increases, respectively, since 1999). Chronic hypertension, diabetes, obesity, mental health conditions, and tobacco use among Native American women showed the largest increases.

Conclusions: The prevalence of maternal comorbidities before and during pregnancy has risen substantially in California and demonstrates racial/ethnic disparity independent of demographic shifts.

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Preterm Birth in the United States: The Impact of Stressful Life Events Prior to Conception and Maternal Age

Whitney Witt et al.
American Journal of Public Health, February 2014, Pages S73-S80

Objectives: We determined whether and to what extent a woman’s exposure to stressful life events prior to conception (PSLEs) was associated with preterm birth and whether maternal age modified this relationship.

Methods: We examined 9350 mothers and infants participating in the first wave of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort, a nationally representative sample of US women and children born in 2001, to investigate the impact of PSLEs on preterm birth in the United States. We estimated the effect of exposure on preterm birth with weighted logistic regression, adjusting for maternal sociodemographic and health factors and stress during pregnancy.

Results: Of the women examined, 10.9% had a preterm birth. In adjusted analyses, women aged 15 to 19 years who experienced any PSLE had over a 4-fold increased risk for having a preterm birth. This association differed on the basis of the timing of the PSLE.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that adolescence may be a sensitive period for the risk of preterm birth among adolescents exposed to PSLEs. Clinical, programmatic, and policy interventions should address upstream PSLEs, especially for adolescents, to reduce the prevalence of preterm birth and improve maternal and child health.

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Maternal Stressful Life Events Prior to Conception and the Impact on Infant Birth Weight in the United States

Whitney Witt et al.
American Journal of Public Health, February 2014, Pages S81-S89

Objectives: We sought to determine if and to what extent a woman’s exposure to stressful life events prior to conception (PSLEs) were associated with subsequent infant birth weight by using a nationally representative sample of US women.

Methods: We examined 9350 mothers and infants participating in the first wave of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort in 2001. Weighted regressions estimated the effect of exposure on very low and low birth weight, adjusting for maternal sociodemographic and health factors and stress during pregnancy.

Results: Twenty percent of women experienced any PSLE. In adjusted analyses, exposed women were 38% more likely to have a very low birth weight infant than nonexposed women. Furthermore, the accumulation of PSLEs was associated with reduced infant birth weight.

Conclusions: This was the first nationally representative study to our knowledge to investigate the impact of PSLEs on very low and low birth weight in the United States. Interventions aimed to improve birth outcomes will need to shift the clinical practice paradigm upstream to the preconception period to reduce women’s exposure to stress over the life course and improve the long-term health of children.

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A Quasi-Experimental Analysis of Maternal Altitude Exposure and Infant Birth Weight

Sammy Zahran et al.
American Journal of Public Health, February 2014, Pages S166-S174

Objectives: We analyzed singleton births to determine the relationship between birth weight and altitude exposure.

Methods: We analyzed 715 213 singleton births across 74 counties from the western states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2000. Birth data were obtained from the Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, for registered births.

Results: Regression analyses supported previous research by showing that a 1000-meter increase in maternal altitude exposure in pregnancy was associated with a 75.9-gram reduction in birth weight (95% confidence interval = −84.1, −67.6). Quantile regression models indicated significant and near-uniform depressant effects from altitude exposure across the conditional distribution of birth weight. Bivariate sample-selection models showed that a 1000-meter increase in altitude exposure, over and above baseline residential altitude, decreased birth weight by an additional 58.8 grams (95% confidence interval = −98.4, −19.2).

Conclusions: Because of calculable health care–related costs associated with lower birth weight, our reported results might be of interest to clinicians practicing at higher altitudes.

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Construction of Early and Midlife Work Trajectories in Women and Their Association With Birth Weight

Miriam Mutambudzi & John Meyer
American Journal of Public Health, February 2014, Pages S58-S64

Objectives: We derived trajectories of the substantive complexity (SC) of work across mid-adult life in women and determined their association with term birth weight. SC is a concept that encompasses decision latitude, active learning, and ability to use and expand one’s abilities at work.

Methods: Using occupational data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and O*NET work variables, we used growth mixture modeling (GMM) to construct longitudinal trajectories of work SC from the ages of 18 to 34 years. The association between work trajectories and birth weight of infants born to study participants was modeled using generalized estimating equations, adjusting for education, income, and relevant covariates.

Results: GMM yielded a 5-class solution for work trajectories in women. Higher work trajectories were associated with higher term birth weight and were robust to the inclusion of both education and income. A work trajectory that showed a sharp rise after age 24 years was associated with marked improvement in birth weight.

Conclusions: Longitudinal modeling of work characteristics might improve capacity to integrate occupation into a life-course model that examines antecedents and consequences for maternal and child health.

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Gentrification and Preterm Birth in New York City, 2008–2010

M. Huynh & A.R. Maroko
Journal of Urban Health, February 2014, Pages 211-220

Abstract:
Adverse birth outcomes have been linked to neighborhood level socioeconomic status. However, little work has examined the influence of social and economic change over time (i.e., gentrification) on health. This study aims to assess the association between gentrification and preterm birth (PTB) while examining the modifying effect of maternal race/ethnicity and educational attainment. New York City births, 2008–2010, (n = 126,165) were linked to a measure of gentrification at the community district level (n = 59). The gentrification measure was calculated using percent change in education level, poverty level, and median household income (MHI) between the 2005–2009 American Community Survey and the 1990 Census. PTB was defined as clinical gestational age less than 37 weeks. Generalized estimating equations were utilized to examine the association. Gentrification (i.e., increase in residents with a college education, increase in MHI, and decrease in residents living below the poverty line) was not associated with PTB. However, among Non-Hispanic Blacks, very high gentrification was adversely associated with PTB (AOR, 1.16; 95 % CI, 1.01–1.33) as compared to those who lived in a very low gentrified neighborhood. Among non-Hispanic Whites, living in a very high gentrified neighborhood was protective as compared to living in a very low gentrified neighborhood (AOR, 0.78; 95 % CI, 0.64–0.94). Although there is a need to develop a more nuanced measure of gentrification, these results indicate that changes in the economic character of a neighborhood may have a significant influence on birth outcomes.

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Educated mothers, healthy infants. The impact of a school reform on the birth weight of Norwegian infants 1967-2005

Jostein Grytten, Irene Skau & Rune Sørensen
Social Science & Medicine, March 2014, Pages 84–92

Abstract:
Birth weight is an important predictor of health and success in later life. Little is known about the effect of mothers’ education on birth weight. A few causal analyses have been done, but they show conflicting results. We estimated the effect of mothers’ education on birth weight by using data on a school reform in Norway. During the period 1960-1972, all municipalities in Norway were required to increase the number of compulsory years of schooling from seven to nine years. We used this education reform to create exogenous variation in the education variable. The education data were combined with large sets of data from the Medical Birth Registry and Statistics Norway. Since municipalities implemented the reform at different times, we have cross-sectional as well as time-series variation in the reform instrument. In the analyses, we controlled for municipality fixed effects, municipality-specific time-trends and mothers’ and infants’ year of birth. Using this procedure we found a fairly large effect of mothers’ education on birth weight. Increasing mothers’ education reduces the likelihood of low birth weight, even in a publically financed health care system. In interpreting these results it is important to keep in mind that we have examined only one channel, which is through birth weight, through which education may explain differences in health. There are other potential channels that should be explored by future research. In particular, it would be of interest to examine whether education has causal effects on the broader determinants of health, such as psychopathology, social capital and networks, and family stress and dysfunction.

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On the positive correlation between education and fertility intentions in Europe: Individual- and country-level evidence

Maria Rita Testa
Advances in Life Course Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Increasing shares of European women are making large investments in their human capital. Whether and to what extent these investments are in conflict with reproductive behavior are issues that have repercussions for fertility levels. Using two Eurobarometer survey data (2006 and 2011) on individuals clustered in the 27 EU countries, I investigate the relationship between women's education and lifetime fertility intentions. Results suggest that a positive association between women's level of education and lifetime fertility intentions exists at both the individual and country levels, as well as in a micro-macro integrated framework. The main explanation for these findings — which remains to be proven by future research — is that, in institutional contexts allowing highly educated women to have large families, women of reproductive ages are more prone to make investments in both human capital and family size, because these choices are not seen as incompatible alternatives.

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Socioeconomic Differences in the Unemployment and Fertility Nexus: Evidence from Denmark and Germany

Michaela Kreyenfeld & Gunnar Andersson
Advances in Life Course Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Studies that have investigated the role of unemployment in childbearing decisions have often shown no or only barely significant results. We argue that many of these “non-findings” may be attributed to a neglect of group-specific differences in behavior. In this study, we examine how the association of unemployment and fertility varies by socio-demographic subgroups using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) and from Danish population registers. We find that male unemployment is related to a postponement of first and second childbearing in both countries. The role of female unemployment is less clear at these two parities. Both male and female unemployment is positively correlated with third birth risks. More importantly, our results show that there are strong educational gradients in the unemployment and fertility nexus, and that the relationship between unemployment and fertility varies by socioeconomic group. Fertility tends to be lower during periods of unemployment among highly educated women and men, but not among their less educated counterparts.

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Parental age and the risk of autism spectrum disorders: Findings from a Swedish population-based cohort

Selma Idring et al.
International Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Background: The objectives of this study were to examine the independent and dependent associations of maternal and paternal age and risk of offspring autism spectrum disorders (ASD), with and without intellectual disability (ID).

Methods: The sample consisted of 417 303 Swedish children born 1984–2003. ASD case status (N = 4746) was ascertained using national and regional registers. Smoothing splines in generalized additive models were used to estimate associations of parental age with ASD.

Results: Whereas advancing parental age increased the risk of child ASD, maternal age effects were non-linear and paternal age effects were linear. Compared with mothers at the median age 29 years, those <29 had similar risk, whereas risk increased after age 30, with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.75 [95% (CI): 1.63–1.89] at ages 40–45. For fathers, compared with the median age of 32 years, the OR for ages 55–59 was 1.39 (1.29–1.50). The risk of ASD was greater for older mothers as compared with older fathers. For example, mothers aged 40–45 (≥97.2th percentile) had an estimated 18.63 (95% CI: 17.25–20.01) ASD cases per 1000 births, whereas fathers aged 55–59 (≥99.7th percentile) had 16.35 (95% CI: 15.11–17.58) ASD cases per 1000 births. In analyses stratified by co-parental age, increased risk due to advancing paternal age was evident only with mothers ≤35 years. In contrast, advancing maternal age increased risk regardless of paternal age. Advancing parental age was more strongly associated with ASD with ID, compared with ASD without ID.

Conclusions: We confirm prior findings that advancing parental age increases risk of ASD, particularly for ASD with ID, in a manner dependent on co-parental age. Although recent attention has emphasized the effects of older fathers on ASD risk, an increase of n years in maternal age has greater implications for ASD risk than a similar increase in paternal age.

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Wicked or Warranted? US press coverage of contraception 1873–1917

Ana Garner
Journalism Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times press coverage of contraception during one key period: 1873–1917. The first 30 years after the passage of the Comstock Act in 1873 were difficult for contraception advocates. The New York Times narrative reflected a battle between those who supported the Comstock Act and the men and women who opposed it. Conversely, the Los Angeles Times narrative portrayed the birth control debate as a wide-ranging battle of ideas occurring in a variety of venues. Press coverage revealed that the use of birth control was common and the real debate was over who had access and whether the information should be publicly available. The battle that began in 1873 is not over as contemporary press coverage reveals the debate over birth control continues.

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Understanding multiple levels of norms about teen pregnancy and their relationships to teens’ sexual behaviors

Stefanie Mollborn, Benjamin Domingue & Jason Boardman
Advances in Life Course Research, June 2014, Pages 1–15

Abstract:
Researchers seeking to understand teen sexual behaviors often turn to age norms, but they are difficult to measure quantitatively. Previous work has usually inferred norms from behavioral patterns or measured group-level norms at the individual level, ignoring multiple reference groups. Capitalizing on the multilevel design of the Add Health survey, we measure teen pregnancy norms perceived by teenagers, as well as average norms at the school and peer network levels. School norms predict boys’ perceived norms, while peer network norms predict girls’ perceived norms. Peer network and individually perceived norms against teen pregnancy independently and negatively predict teens’ likelihood of sexual intercourse. Perceived norms against pregnancy predict increased likelihood of contraception among sexually experienced girls, but sexually experienced boys’ contraceptive behavior is more complicated: When both the boy and his peers or school have stronger norms against teen pregnancy he is more likely to contracept, and in the absence of school or peer norms against pregnancy, boys who are embarrassed are less likely to contracept. We conclude that: (1) patterns of behavior cannot adequately operationalize teen pregnancy norms, (2) norms are not simply linked to behaviors through individual perceptions, and (3) norms at different levels can operate independently of each other, interactively, or in opposition. This evidence creates space for conceptualizations of agency, conflict, and change that can lead to progress in understanding age norms and sexual behaviors.

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Effects of remarriage after widowhood on long-term fitness in a monogamous historical human population

Jenni Pettay et al.
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, January 2014, Pages 135-143

Abstract:
The fitness benefits of multiple mating determine the strength of sexual selection in each sex. This is traditionally quantified by the number of offspring born to once versus multiply mated individuals. In species with (bi)parental care, however, this measure may overestimate the benefits of multiple mating since having several mates can increase offspring number but decrease offspring quality. We analyzed short- and long-term fitness consequences of multiple marriages for both sexes in humans in preindustrial Finnish populations, where monogamy was socially enforced and remarriage was possible only after widowhood. Remarriage increased the lifetime number of offspring sired by men by lengthening their reproductive span but was unrelated to the lifetime number of births for women. However, neither men's nor women's long-term fitness, measured as their number of grandchildren, was significantly increased or decreased by remarriage. These associations were not modified by individual wealth. Our results suggest that despite increasing the number of offspring sired by men, the long-term fitness benefits of serial monogamy may be negligible for both sexes when parental investment is crucial for offspring success and continues to adulthood. They also demonstrate the importance of incorporating long-term fitness measures when quantifying the benefits of mating and reproductive strategies.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Into the 21st century

Generating Skilled Self-Employment in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Uganda

Christopher Blattman, Nathan Fiala & Sebastian Martinez
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study a government program in Uganda designed to help the poor and unemployed become self-employed artisans, increase incomes, and thus promote social stability. Young adults in Uganda's conflict-affected north were invited to form groups and submit grant proposals for vocational training and business start-up. Funding was randomly assigned among screened and eligible groups. Treatment groups received unsupervised grants of $382 per member. Grant recipients invest some in skills training but most in tools and materials. After four years half practice a skilled trade. Relative to the control group, the program increases business assets by 57%, work hours by 17%, and earnings by 38%. Many also formalize their enterprises and hire labor. We see no impact, however, on social cohesion, anti-social behavior, or protest. Impacts are similar by gender, but are qualitatively different for women because they begin poorer (meaning the impact is larger relative to their starting point) and because women's work and earnings stagnate without the program but take off with it. The patterns we observe are consistent with credit-constraints.

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Coal and the European Industrial Revolution

Alan Fernihough & Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
We examine the importance of geographical proximity to coal as a factor underpinning comparative European economic development during the Industrial Revolution. Our analysis exploits geographical variation in city and coalfield locations, alongside temporal variation in the availability of coal-powered technologies, to quantify the effect of coal availability on historic city population sizes. Since we suspect that our coal measure could be endogenous, we use a geologically derived measure as an instrumental variable: proximity to rock strata from the Carboniferous era. Consistent with traditional historical accounts of the Industrial Revolution, we find that coal had a strong influence on city population size from 1800 onward. Counterfactual estimates of city population sizes indicate that our estimated coal effect explains at least 60% of the growth in European city populations from 1750 to 1900. This result is robust to a number of alternative modelling assumptions regarding missing historical population data, spatially lagged effects, and the exclusion of the United Kingdom from the estimation sample.

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Does Diversity Lead to Diverse Opinions? Evidence from Languages and Stock Markets

Yen-Cheng Chang et al.
China Academy of Financial Research Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
An oft-cited premise for why diverse societies, be it ethnic, linguistic or religious, can grow faster than homogeneous ones is that they bring about diverse opinions, which foster problem solving and creativity. We provide evidence for this premise using a linguistic measure of diversity across Chinese provinces and stock market measures of diverse opinions. This cross-province variation in linguistic diversity is correlated with the extent of hilly terrain in a province but is uncorrelated with financial development in that province. Households in provinces with more linguistic diversity have more diverse opinions as measured by greater trading of and disagreement on stock message boards about local stocks. Linguistic diversity is also correlated with small private enterprise diversity. An analogous cross-country regression suggests that our conclusion extrapolates beyond China.

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Crime and Growth Convergence: Evidence from Mexico

Ted Enamorado, Carlos Rodriguez-Castelan & Luis López-Calva
World Bank Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
Scholars have often argued that crime deters growth, but the empirical literature assessing such effect is scarce. By exploiting cross-municipality income and crime data for Mexico -- a country that experienced a high increase in crime rates over the past decade -- this study circumvents two of the most common problems faced by researchers in this area. These are: (i) the lack of a homogenous, consistently comparable measure of crime and (ii) the small sample problem in the estimation. Combining income data from poverty maps, administrative records on crime and violence, and public expenditures data at the municipal level for Mexico (2005-2010), the analysis finds evidence indicating that drug-related crimes indeed deter growth. It also finds no evidence of a negative effect on growth from crimes unrelated to drug trafficking.

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American Colonial Incomes, 1650-1774

Peter Lindert & Jeffrey Williamson
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
New data now allow conjectures on the levels of real and nominal incomes in the thirteen American colonies. New England was the poorest region, and the South was the richest. Colonial per capita incomes rose only very slowly, and slowly for five reasons: productivity growth was slow; population in the low-income (but subsistence-plus) frontier grew much faster than that in the high-income coastal settlements; child dependency rates were high and probably even rising; the terms of trade was extremely volatile, presumably suppressing investment in export sectors; and the terms of trade rose very slowly, if at all, in the North, although faster in the South. All of this checked the growth of colony-wide per capita income after a 17th century boom. The American colonies led Great Britain in purchasing power per capita from 1700, and possibly from 1650, until 1774, even counting slaves in the population. That is, average purchasing power in America led Britain early, when Americans were British. The common view that American per capita income did not overtake that of Britain until the start of the 20th century appears to be off the mark by two centuries or longer.

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Slavery, Statehood, and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

Dirk Bezemer, Jutta Bolt & Robert Lensink
World Development, May 2014, Pages 148–163

Abstract:
Although Africa’s indigenous systems of slavery have been extensively described in the historical literature, comparatively little attention has been paid to analyzing its long term impact on economic and political development. Based on data collected from anthropological records we conduct an econometric analysis. We find that indigenous slavery is robustly and negatively associated with current income levels, but not with income levels immediately after independence. We explore one channel of transmission from indigenous slavery to income growth consistent with this changing effect over time and find evidence that indigenous slavery impeded the development of capable and accountable states in Africa.

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Agriculture, Transportation and the Timing of Urbanization: Global Analysis at the Grid Cell Level

Mesbah Motamed, Raymond Florax & William Masters
U.S. Department of Agriculture Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
This paper addresses the timing of a location's historical transition from rural to urban activity. We test whether urbanization occurs sooner in places with higher agricultural potential and comparatively lower transport costs, using worldwide data that divide the earth's surface at half-degree intervals into 62,290 cells. From an independent estimate of each cell's rural and urban population history over the last 2,000 years, we identify the date at which each cell achieves various thresholds of urbanization. Controlling for unobserved heterogeneity across countries through fixed effects and using a variety of spatial econometric techniques, we find a robust association between earlier urbanization and agro-climatic suitability for cultivation, having seasonal frosts, better access to the ocean or navigable rivers, and lower elevation. These geographic correlations become smaller in magnitude as urbanization proceeds, and there is some variance in effect sizes across continents. Aggregating cells into countries, we show that an earlier urbanization date is associated with higher per capita income today.

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Do Firms Want to Borrow More? Testing Credit Constraints Using a Directed Lending Program

Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo
Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article uses variation in access to a targeted lending program to estimate whether firms are credit constrained. While both constrained and unconstrained firms may be willing to absorb all the directed credit that they can get (because it may be cheaper than other sources of credit), constrained firms will use it to expand production, while unconstrained firms will primarily use it as a substitute for other borrowing. We apply these observations to firms in India that became eligible for directed credit as a result of a policy change in 1998, and lost eligibility as a result of the reversal of this reform in 2000, and to smaller firms that were already eligible for the preferential credit before 1998 and remained eligible in 2000. Comparing the trends in the sales and the profits of these two groups of firms, we show that there is no evidence that directed credit is being used as a substitute for other forms of credit. Instead, the credit was used to finance more production–there was a large acceleration in the rate of growth of sales and profits for these firms in 1998, and a corresponding decline in 2000. There was no change in trends around either date for the small firms. We conclude that many of the firms must have been severely credit constrained, and that the marginal rate of return to capital was very high for these firms.

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Business Literacy and Development: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Rural Mexico

Gabriela Calderon, Jesse Cunha & Giacomo De Giorgi
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
A large share of the poor in developing countries run small enterprises, often earning low incomes. This paper explores whether the poor performance of businesses can be explained by a lack of basic business skills. We randomized the offer of a free, 48-hour business skills course to female entrepreneurs in rural Mexico. We find that those assigned to treatment earn higher profits, have larger revenues, serve a greater number of clients, are more likely to use formal accounting techniques, and more likely to be registered with the government. Indirect treatment effects on those entrepreneurs randomized out of the program, yet living in treatment villages, are economically meaningful, yet imprecisely measured. We present a simple model of experience and learning that helps interpret our results, and consistent with the theoretical predictions, we find that "low-quality" entrepreneurs are the most likely to quit their business post-treatment, and that the positive impacts of the treatment are increasing in entrepreneurial quality.

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National Institutions and Subnational Development in Africa

Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou
Quarterly Journal of Economics, February 2014, Pages 151-213

Abstract:
We investigate the role of national institutions on subnational African development in a novel framework that accounts for both local geography and cultural-genetic traits. We exploit the fact that the political boundaries on the eve of African independence partitioned more than 200 ethnic groups across adjacent countries subjecting similar cultures, residing in homogeneous geographic areas, to different formal institutions. Using both a matching type and a spatial regression discontinuity approach we show that differences in countrywide institutional structures across the national border do not explain within-ethnicity differences in economic performance, as captured by satellite images of light density. The average noneffect of national institutions on ethnic development masks considerable heterogeneity partially driven by the diminishing role of national institutions in areas further from the capital cities.

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Relying on the Private Sector: The Income Distribution and Public Investments in the Poor

Katrina Kosec
Journal of Development Economics, March 2014, Pages 320–342

Abstract:
What drives governments with similar revenues to provide very different amounts of goods with private sector substitutes? Education is a prime example. I use exogenous shocks to Brazilian municipalities’ revenue during 1995–2008 generated by non-linearities in federal transfer laws to demonstrate two things. First, municipalities with higher income inequality or higher median income allocate less of a revenue shock to education and are less likely to expand public school enrollment. They are more likely to invest in public infrastructure that is broadly enjoyed, like parks and roads, or to save the shock. Second, I find no evidence that the quality of public education suffers as a result. If anything, unequal and high-income areas are more likely to improve public school inputs and test scores following a revenue shock, given their heavy use of private education. I further provide evidence that an increase in public sector revenue lowers private school enrollment.

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Does Too Much Finance Harm Economic Growth?

Siong Hook Law & Nirvikar Singh
Journal of Banking & Finance, April 2014, Pages 36–44

Abstract:
This study provides new evidence on the relationship between finance and economic growth using an innovative dynamic panel threshold technique. The sample consists of 87 developed and developing countries. The empirical results indicate that there is a threshold effect in the finance-growth relationship. In particular, we find that the level of financial development is beneficial to growth only up to a certain threshold; beyond the threshold level further development of finance tends to adversely affect growth. These findings reveal that more finance is not necessarily good for economic growth and highlight that an “optimal” level of financial development is more crucial in facilitating growth.

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Do Elections Matter for Economic Performance?

Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler
Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In mature democracies, elections discipline leaders to deliver good economic performance. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, most developing countries also hold elections, but these are often marred by illicit tactics. Using a new global data set, this article investigates whether these illicit tactics are merely blemishes or substantially undermine the economic efficacy of elections. We show that illicit tactics are widespread, and that they reduce the incentive for governments to deliver good economic performance. Our analysis also suggests that in societies with regular free and fair elections, leaders do not matter for economic growth.

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Lights, Camera,... Income!: Estimating Poverty Using National Accounts, Survey Means, and Lights

Maxim Pinkovskiy & Xavier Sala-i-Martin
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
In this paper we try to understand whether national accounts GDP per capita or survey mean income or consumption better proxy for true income per capita. We propose a data-driven method to assess the relative quality of GDP per capita versus survey means by comparing the evolution of each series to the evolution of satellite-recorded nighttime lights. Our main assumption, which is robust to a variety of specification checks, is that the measurement error in nighttime lights is unrelated to the measurement errors in either national accounts or survey means. We obtain estimates of weights on national accounts and survey means in an optimal proxy for true income; these weights are very large for national accounts and very modest for survey means. We conclusively reject the null hypothesis that the optimal weight on surveys is greater than the optimal weight on national accounts, and we generally fail to reject the null hypothesis that the optimal weight on surveys is zero. Using the estimated optimal weights, we compute estimates of true income per capita and $1/day poverty rates for the developing world and its regions. We get poverty estimates that are substantially lower and fall substantially faster than those of Chen and Ravallion (2010) or of the survey-based poverty literature more generally.

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The devil is in the shadow. Do institutions affect income and productivity or only official income and official productivity?

Axel Dreher, Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Friedrich Schneider
Public Choice, January 2014, Pages 121-141

Abstract:
This paper assesses the relationship between institutions, output, and productivity when official output is corrected for the size of the shadow economy. Our results confirm the usual positive impact of institutional quality on official output and total factor productivity, and its negative impact on the size of the underground economy. However, once output is corrected for the shadow economy, the relationship between institutions and output becomes weaker. The impact of institutions on total (“corrected”) factor productivity becomes insignificant. Differences in corrected output must then be attributed to differences in factor endowments. These results survive several tests for robustness.

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The impact of drought in early fourteenth-century England

David Stone
Economic History Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Climatic change is currently viewed as one of the main causes of the so-called crisis of the early fourteenth century. It is well established that England saw increased storminess and heavy rainfall in this period, but this article suggests that the impact of drought — which became a common feature of the English climate during the 1320s and early 1330s — has been overlooked. Based primarily on a detailed analysis of account rolls for over 60 of the best-documented manors in this period, the article establishes that drought brought devastating harvest failure and caused severe outbreaks of a number of diseases, plausibly including enteric infections, malaria, and winter and spring fevers. As a result, mortality surged and population levels fell in communities in affected regions, which were mainly confined to the southern and eastern counties of England. The article concludes that such regional variation significantly affects our understanding of demographic, agricultural, and even fiscal trends in this period. Although we should not disregard the human factors influencing the impact of environmental shocks, England was plainly struck with indubitable force by extreme weather in this pivotal phase of the medieval economy.

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The International Monetary Fund, Structural Adjustment, and Women's Health: A Cross-National Analysis of Maternal Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa

Lauren Pandolfelli, John Shandra & Juhi Tyagi
Sociological Quarterly, Winter 2014, Pages 119–142

Abstract:
We conduct a cross-national analysis to test the dependency theory hypothesis that International Monetary Fund structural adjustment adversely impacts maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. We use generalized least square random effects regression models and modified two-step Heckman models that correct for endogeneity using data on 37 African nations with up to four time points (1990, 1995, 2000, and 2005). We find support for our hypothesis, which indicates that sub-Saharan African nations that receive an International Monetary Fund structural adjustment loan tend to have higher levels of maternal mortality than sub-Saharan African nations that do not receive such a loan. This finding remains stable when controlling for endogeneity related to whether or not a sub-Saharan African nation receives a structural adjustment loan. We conclude by discussing the theoretical implications, methodological implications, policy suggestions, and possible directions for future research.

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A World of Cities: The Causes and Consequences of Urbanization in Poorer Countries

Edward Glaeser
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
Historically, urban growth required enough development to grow and transport significant agricultural surpluses or a government effective enough to build an empire. But there has been an explosion of poor mega-cities over the last thirty years. A simple urban model illustrates that in closed economies, agricultural prosperity leads to more urbanization but that in an open economy, urbanization increases with agricultural desperation. The challenge of developing world mega-cities is that poverty and weak governance reduce the ability to address the negative externalities that come with density. This paper models the connection between urban size and institutional failure, and shows that urban anonymity causes institutions to break down. For large cities with weak governments, draconian policies may be the only way to curb negative externalities, suggesting a painful tradeoff between dictatorship and disorder. A simple model suggests that private provision of infrastructure to reduce negative externalities is less costly when city populations are low or institutions are strong, but that public provision can cost less in bigger cities.

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Cross-Country Differences in the Quality of Schooling

Nicolai Kaarsen
Journal of Development Economics, March 2014, Pages 215–224

Abstract:
This paper constructs a cross-country measure of the quality of education using a novel approach based on international test scores data. The first main finding is that there are large differences in education quality - one year of schooling in the U.S. is equivalent to three or more years of schooling in a number of low-income countries. I incorporate the estimated series for schooling quality in an accounting framework calibrated using evidence on Mincerian returns. This leads to the second important finding, which is that the fraction of income differences explained by the model rises substantially when one includes education quality; the increase is around 22 percentage points.

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Reassessing the Links between Regime Type and Economic Performance: Why Some Authoritarian Regimes Show Stable Growth and Others Do Not

Siddharth Chandra & Nita Rudra
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This analysis challenges claims that regime type determines national economic performance, and hypothesizes that the level of public deliberation, rather than broad categories of regime type, is the driver of national economic performance across political systems; specifically, that negotiations, disagreements, and compromises between decentralized decision-making partisans (e.g., citizens, business representatives, professional associations, labor, and public administrators) are the underlying causal mechanism explaining the non-monotonic relationship between different types of political system and economic performance. Countries with high levels of public deliberation more often experience stable growth outcomes, while other countries can make radical changes in economic policy with uncertain outcome. The variation in public deliberation within regime type is significant, especially amongst authoritarian regimes. One startling implication is that, in certain situations, impressive gains in economic growth can be achieved only at the expense of active negotiation and participation in the policy-making process.

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What Democracy Does (and Doesn’t Do) for Basic Services: School Fees, School Inputs, and African Elections

Robin Harding & David Stasavage
Journal of Politics, January 2014, Pages 229-245

Abstract:
Does democracy affect the provision of basic services? We advance on existing empirical work on this subject by exploring the potential mechanisms through which a democratic transition may prompt a government to alter provision of basic services to its citizens. In an environment of weak state capacity, in which it is difficult for voters to attribute outcomes to executive actions, we suggest that electoral competition is most likely to lead to changes in policies where executive action is verifiable. Considering the context of African primary education as an example, we suggest that electoral competition will therefore give governments an incentive to abolish school fees, but it will have less effect on the provision of school inputs, precisely because executive actions on these issues are more difficult to monitor. We evaluate this claim by approaching it in three different ways, using cross-national as well as individual-level data, including an original data set on primary school fee abolitions. First we show that in Africa, democracies have higher rates of school attendance than nondemocracies. Moreover, evidence suggests that this is primarily due to the fact that democracies are more likely to abolish school fees, not to the fact that they provide more inputs. We then estimate the likelihood that a government will abolish school fees subsequent to an election, taking account of endogeneity concerns involving election timing. Finally, we use survey data from Kenya to provide evidence suggesting that citizens condition their voting intentions on an outcome that a politician can control directly, in this case abolishing school fees, but not on outcomes over which politicians have much more indirect influence, such as local school quality.

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Can Free Provision Reduce Demand for Public Services? Evidence from Kenyan Education

Tessa Bold et al.
World Bank Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
In 2003 Kenya abolished user fees in all government primary schools. We show that this policy contributed to a shift in demand away from free schools, where net enrollment stagnated after 2003, toward fee-charging private schools, where both enrollment and fee levels grew rapidly after 2003. These shifts had mixed distributional consequences. Enrollment by poorer households increased, but segregation between socio-economic groups also increased. We find evidence that the shift in demand toward private schooling was driven by more affluent households who (i) paid higher ex ante fees and thus experienced a larger reduction in school funding, and (ii) exited public schools in reaction to increased enrollment by poorer children.

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The Impact of Armed Conflict on Economic Performance: Evidence from Rwanda

Pieter Serneels & Marijke Verpoorten
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
Important gaps remain in the understanding of the economic consequences of civil war. Focusing on the conflict in Rwanda in the early 1990s, and using micro data, this article finds that households and localities that experienced more intense conflict are lagging behind in terms of consumption six years after the conflict, a finding that is robust to taking into account the endogeneity of violence. Significantly different returns to land and labor are observed between zones that experienced low- and high-intensity conflict which is consistent with the ongoing recovery. Distinguishing between civil war and genocide, the findings also provide evidence that these returns, and by implication the process of recovery, depend on the form of violence.

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World Human Development: 1870–2007

Leandro Prados de la Escosura
Review of Income and Wealth, forthcoming

Abstract:
How has wellbeing evolved over time and across regions? How does the West compare to the Rest? What explains their differences? These questions are addressed using a historical index of human development. A sustained improvement in world wellbeing has taken place since 1870. The absolute gap between OECD and the Rest widened over time, but an incomplete catching up — largely explained by education — occurred between 1913 and 1970. As the health transition was achieved in the Rest, the contribution of life expectancy to human development improvement declined and the Rest fell behind in terms of longevity. Meanwhile, in the OECD, as longevity increased, healthy years expanded. A large variance in human development is noticeable in the Rest since 1970, with East Asia, Latin America, and North Africa catching up to the OECD, and Central and Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa falling behind.

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Public capital in resource rich economies: Is there a curse?

Sambit Bhattacharyya & Paul Collier
Oxford Economic Papers, January 2014, Pages 1-24

Abstract:
As poor countries deplete their natural resources, for increased consumption to be sustainable some of the revenues should be invested in other public assets. Further, since such countries typically have acute shortages of public capital, the finance from resource depletion is an opportunity for needed public investment. Using a new global panel dataset on public capital and resource rents covering the period 1970 to 2005 we find that, contrary to these expectations, resource rents significantly reduce the public capital stock. This is more direct evidence for a policy-based ‘resource curse’ than the conventional, indirect evidence from the relationships between resource endowments, growth and income. The adverse effect on public capital is mitigated by good institutions. We also find that rents from the depletion of non-renewable (mineral) resources reduce the public capital stock whereas rents from sustainable (forestry and agriculture) sources do not.

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The stability of voluntarism: Financing social care in early modern Dutch towns compared with the English Poor Law, c. 1600–1800

Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk & Daniëlle Teeuwen
European Review of Economic History, February 2014, Pages 82-105

Abstract:
This article aims to compare the financing of two apparently entirely different systems of pre-industrial welfare: urban institutional welfare in the federal Dutch Republic and the national Elizabethan Poor Law in Britain. By analysing a new dataset on the income and expenditure of five Dutch towns, we conclude that, despite the absence of uniform legislation, Dutch poor relief was viable at least up until the 1790s, even in times of severe crises and declining real wages. This was obtained by the – in monetary terms – remarkably stable donations by Dutch citizens, mostly through regular collections, as well as careful financial management of the charitable funds.

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State Capacity and the Environmental Investment Gap in Authoritarian States

Hugh Ward, Xun Cao & Bumba Mukherjee
Comparative Political Studies, March 2014, Pages 309-343

Abstract:
We construct an n-period, constrained optimization model where the authoritarian ruler maximizes expected rents subject to budget constraint of available surplus. We show that the larger state capacity is in the previous period, the worse environmental quality will be in the next period: while infrastructural investment and environmental protection increase with state capacity, the former increases at a faster rate which enlarges the gap between the two — the environmental investment gap. Given infrastructural public goods typically damage the environment, the larger this gap is the worse the environmental quality would be. This follows from rulers’ optimizing logic of equating marginal returns once we assume the declining marginal productivity of factors of production of surplus. We model three types of air and water pollutants in autocracies as a function of state capacity and other relevant variables. State capacity is associated with higher levels of all three types of pollutants.

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Forced Saving in China

Richard Eckaus
China Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The explanation offered here for the high rates of saving in China is that much of the saving has been “forced” in two Benthamite senses. Involuntary saving, the first of Bentham's meanings, includes taxes which finance investment. These have made up more than half of the total savings in China in recent years. There is also forced saving in China in the form of Bentham's second sense, conduced saving, resulting from bank loans which have financed investment. While the existence of a savings glut has been suggested for China, a better characterization would be that it has had a high rate of investment.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It pains me

Social Capital, Ideology, and Health in the United States

Mitchel Herian et al.
Social Science & Medicine, March 2014, Pages 30–37

Abstract:
Research from across disciplines has demonstrated that social and political contextual factors at the national and subnational levels can impact the health and health behavior risks of individuals. This paper examines the impact of state-level social capital and ideology on individual-level health outcomes in the U.S. Leveraging the variation that exists across states in the U.S., the results reveal that individuals report better health in states with higher levels of governmental liberalism and in states with higher levels of social capital. Critically, however, the effect of social capital was moderated by liberalism such that social capital was a stronger predictor of health in states with low levels of liberalism. We interpret this finding to mean that social capital within a political unit — as indicated by measures of interpersonal trust — can serve as a substitute for the beneficial impacts that might result from an active governmental structure.

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Anatomy of a Municipal Triumph: New York City's Upsurge in Life Expectancy

Samuel Preston & Irma Elo
Population and Development Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Over the period 1990–2010, the increase in life expectancy for males in New York City was 6.0 years greater than for males in the United States. The female relative gain was 3.9 years. Male relative gains were larger because of extremely rapid reductions in mortality from HIV/AIDS and homicide, declines that reflect effective municipal policies and programs. Declines in drug- and alcohol-related deaths also played a significant role in New York City's advance, but every major cause of death contributed to its relative improvement. By 2010, New York City had a life expectancy that was 1.9 years greater than that of the US. This difference is attributable to the high representation of immigrants in New York's population. Immigrants to New York City, and to the United States, have life expectancies that are among the highest in the world. The fact that 38 percent of New York's population consists of immigrants, compared to only 14 percent in the United States, accounts for New York's exceptional standing in life expectancy in 2010. In fact, US-born New Yorkers have a life expectancy below that of the United States itself.

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The Health Consequences of Retirement

Michael Insler
Journal of Human Resources, Winter 2014, Pages 195-233

Abstract:
This paper examines the impact of retirement on individuals’ health. Declines in health commonly compel workers to retire, so the challenge is to disentangle the simultaneous causal effects. The estimation strategy employs an instrumental variables specification. The instrument is based on workers’ self-reported probabilities of working past ages 62 and 65, taken from the first period in which they are observed. Results indicate that the retirement effect on health is beneficial and significant. Investigation into behavioral data, such as smoking and exercise, suggests that retirement may affect health through such channels. With additional leisure time, many retirees practice healthier habits.

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Declines in Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Children, 1997−2011

Byron Kennedy et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, March 2014, Pages 259–264

Objective: To assess temporal trends in childhood elevated blood lead level (EBLL) rates.

Methods: Laboratory surveillance data were collected from 1997 to 2011 and analyzed in 2013 using linear regression to assess trends in confirmed EBLL rates among children aged <6 years in the U.S., New York State ([NYS], excluding New York City), and Monroe County NY. Monroe County was also examined as a case study of local public health efforts to reduce childhood lead exposures. Blood lead screening and home lead hazard inspection data were collected from 1990 to 2012 and analyzed in 2013.

Results: The prevalence of EBLL≥10 μg/dL per 100 tested children decreased from 13.4 to 1.1 in Monroe County, 6.3 to 1.0 in NYS, and 7.6 to 0.6 in the U.S. between 1997 and 2011. The absolute yearly rate of decline in Monroe County (slope=−0.0083, p<0.001) occurred 2.4-fold faster than that in NYS (slope=−0.0034, p<0.001) and 1.8-fold faster than that in the U.S. (slope=−0.0046, p<0.001). The childhood blood lead testing rate was consistently higher in Monroe County than in NYS and the U.S.; however, testing increased for all three areas (all slopes>0, p<0.05), with greater improvements observed for U.S. children overall (slope=0.0075, p<0.001).

Conclusions: In addition to national and statewide policies, local efforts may be important drivers of population-based declines in childhood EBLL rates.

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Neighborhoods and Infectious Disease Risk: Acquisition of Chlamydia during the Transition to Young Adulthood

Jodi Ford & Christopher Browning
Journal of Urban Health, February 2014, Pages 136-150

Abstract:
Adolescents and young adults have the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the USA despite national priority goals targeting their reduction. Research on the role of neighborhoods in shaping STI risk among youth has increased in recent years, but few studies have explored the longitudinal effects of neighborhoods on STI acquisition during the adolescent to young adult transition. The aims of this study were to examine: (1) the longitudinal relationships between the neighborhood context (poverty, residential instability, and racial/ethnic concentration) of exposure during adolescence and young adults’ acquisition of chlamydia, and (2) the extent to which sexual risk behaviors and depression over the transition from adolescence to young adulthood mediate the relationship between the neighborhood context of exposure during adolescence and young adults’ acquisition of chlamydia. A longitudinal observational design was employed using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), waves 1–3 (1994–2002). The sample was composed of 11,460 young adults aged 18 to 27 years. Neighborhood measures during adolescence were derived from the 1990 US Census appended to adolescents’ interview data. Chlamydia infection was measured via urine assay at wave 3 and 4.6 % of the young adults in the sample tested positive for chlamydia. Multilevel logistic regression analyses were conducted adjusting for numerous neighborhood and individual risk factors. Multivariate findings indicated exposure to neighborhood poverty during adolescence increased the likelihood of a positive urine test for chlamydia during young adulthood (AOR = 1.23, 95 % CI = 1.06, 1.42), and the association was not mediated by sexual risk behaviors or depression. Further research is needed to better understand the pathways through which exposure to neighborhood poverty contributes to chlamydia over the life course as are comprehensive STI prevention strategies addressing neighborhood poverty.

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Positive Externalities from Active Car Safety Systems: A New Justification for Car Safety Regulations

Michael Berlemann & Andreas Matthes
Journal of Policy Modeling, forthcoming

Abstract:
Policymakers around the globe have opted for high levels of regulation of the market for vehicle safety and declared many vehicle safety systems as mandatory for new cars. In this paper we argue that the delivered justifications for these policies are at least questionable. We add a completely new argument to the discussion and show in a simple theoretical model that vehicle safety systems might cause positive externalities. Based on a large dataset of traffic accidents in Germany we show that the these externalities in fact occur. Based on our estimation results we show that for anti-lock-brakes (ABS) and electronic stability programmes (ESP) the average expected externality exceeds the price of these systems. Thus, the obligation to equip any new car with both ABS and ESP is adequate from an allocative point of view although the official justification for the introduction of these regulations are flawed.

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Intake of Long-Chain ω-3 Fatty Acids From Diet and Supplements in Relation to Mortality

Griffith Bell et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evidence from experimental studies suggests that the long-chain ω-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid have beneficial effects that may lead to reduced mortality from chronic diseases, but epidemiologic evidence is mixed. Our objective was to evaluate whether intake of long-chain ω-3 fatty acids from diet and supplements is associated with cause-specific and total mortality. Study participants (n = 70,495) were members of a cohort study (the Vitamins and Lifestyle Study) who were residents of Washington State aged 50–76 years at the start of the study (2000–2002). Participants were followed for mortality through 2006 (n = 3,051 deaths). Higher combined intake of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid from diet and supplements was associated with a decreased risk of total mortality (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.82, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.73, 0.93) and mortality from cancer (HR = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.64, 0.92) but only a small reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular disease (HR = 0.87, 95% CI: 0.68, 1.10). These results suggest that intake of long-chain ω-3 fatty acids may reduce risk of total and cancer-specific mortality.

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Macroeconomic fluctuations and motorcycle fatalities in the U.S.

Michael French & Gulcin Gumus
Social Science & Medicine, March 2014, Pages 187–193

Abstract:
The effects of business cycles on health outcomes in general, and on traffic fatalities in particular, have received much attention recently. In this paper, we focus on motorcycle safety and examine the impact of changing levels of economic activity on fatal crashes by motorcyclists in the United States. We analyze state-level longitudinal data with 1,104 state/year observations from the 1988-2010 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Using the extensive motorcycle crash characteristics available in FARS, we examine not only total fatality rates but also rates decomposed by crash type, day, time, and the level of the motorcycle operator’s blood alcohol content. Our results are consistent with much of the existing literature showing that traffic fatality rates are pro-cyclical. The estimates suggest that a 10% increase in real income per capita is associated with a 10.4% rise in the total motorcycle fatality rate. Along with potential mechanisms, policymakers and public health officials should consider the effects of business cycles on motorcycle safety.

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Population Health Concerns During the United States’ Great Recession

Benjamin Althouse et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, February 2014, Pages 166–170

Background: Associations between economic conditions and health are usually derived from cost-intensive surveys that are intermittently collected with nonspecific measures (i.e., self-rated health).
Purpose: This study identified how precise health concerns changed during the U.S. Great Recession analyzing Google search queries to identify the concern by the query content and their prevalence by the query volume.

Methods: Excess health concerns were estimated during the Great Recession (December 2008 through 2011) by comparing the cumulative difference between observed and expected (based on linear projections from pre-existing trends) query volume for hundreds of individual terms. As performed in 2013, the 100 queries with the greatest excess were ranked and then clustered into themes based on query content.

Results: The specific queries with the greatest relative excess were stomach ulcer symptoms and headache symptoms, respectively, 228% (95% CI¼35, 363) and 193% (95% CI¼60, 275) greater than expected. Queries typically involved symptomology (i.e., gas symptoms) and diagnostics (i.e., heart monitor) naturally coalescing into themes. Among top themes, headache queries were 41% (95% CI¼3, 148); hernia 37% (95% CI¼16, 142); chest pain 35% (95% CI¼6, 313); and arrhythmia 32% (95% CI¼3, 149) greater than expected. Pain was common with back, gastric, joint, and tooth foci, with the latter 19% (95% CI¼4, 46) higher. Among just the top 100, there were roughly 205 million excess health concern queries during the Great Recession.

Conclusions: Google queries indicate that the Great Recession coincided with substantial increases in health concerns, hinting at how population health specifically changed during that time.

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Association Between Birthplace and Current Asthma: The Role of Environment and Acculturation

Shahed Iqbal et al.
American Journal of Public Health, February 2014, Pages S175-S182

Objectives: We evaluated associations between current asthma and birthplace among major racial/ethnic groups in the United States.

Methods: We used multivariate logistic regression methods to analyze data on 102 524 children and adolescents and 255 156 adults in the National Health Interview Survey (2001–2009).

Results: We found significantly higher prevalence (P < .05) of current asthma among children and adolescents (9.3% vs 5.1%) and adults (7.6% vs 4.7%) born in the 50 states and Washington, DC (US-born), than among those born elsewhere. These differences were among all age groups of non-Hispanic Whites, non-Hispanic Blacks, and Hispanics (excluding Puerto Ricans) and among Chinese adults. Non–US-born adults with 10 or more years of residency in the United States had higher odds of current asthma (odds ratio = 1.55; 95% confidence interval = 1.25, 1.93) than did those who arrived more recently. Findings suggested a similar trend among non–US-born children.

Conclusions: Current asthma status was positively associated with being born in the United States and with duration of residency in the United States. Among other contributing factors, changes in environment and acculturation may explain some of the differences in asthma prevalence.

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Disparities in Age-Appropriate Child Passenger Restraint Use Among Children Aged 1 to 12 Years

Michelle Macy et al.
Pediatrics, February 2014, Pages 262 -271

Objective: Observed racial disparities in child safety seat use have not accounted for socioeconomic factors. We hypothesized that racial differences in age-appropriate restraint use would be modified by socioeconomic status and child passenger safety information sources.

Methods: A 2-site, cross-sectional tablet-based survey of parents seeking emergency care for their 1- to 12-year-old child was conducted between October 2011 and May 2012. Parents provided self-report of child passenger safety practices, demographic characteristics, and information sources. Direct observation of restraint use was conducted in a subset of children at emergency department discharge. Age-appropriate restraint use was defined by Michigan law.

Results: Of the 744 eligible parents, 669 agreed to participate and 601 provided complete responses to key variables. White parents reported higher use of car seats for 1- to 3-year-olds and booster seats for 4- to 7-year-olds compared with nonwhite parents. Regardless of race, <30% of 8- to 12-year-old children who were ≤4 feet, 9 inches tall used a booster seat. White parents had higher adjusted odds (3.86, 95% confidence interval 2.27–6.57) of reporting age-appropriate restraint use compared with nonwhite parents, controlling for education, income, information sources, and site. There was substantial agreement (82.6%, κ = 0.74) between parent report of their child’s usual restraint and the observed restraint at emergency department discharge.

Conclusions: Efforts should be directed at eliminating racial disparities in age-appropriate child passenger restraint use for children <8 years. Booster seat use, seat belt use, and rear seating represent opportunities to improve child passenger safety practices among older children.

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Prevalence and Correlates of Firearm Ownership in the Homes of Fifth Graders: Birmingham, AL, Houston, TX, and Los Angeles, CA

David Schwebel et al.
Health Education & Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Firearms in the home are associated with increased injury risk, especially when loaded and unlocked. In this study, 5,010 fifth-graders and their caregivers in three U.S. metropolitan areas participated in the 2004-2006 Healthy Passages study on adolescent health. Firearm ownership and storage patterns were examined by four self-reported sociodemographic characteristics (child’s race/ethnicity, child’s gender, family socioeconomic status, and study site) and reasons for ownership. Eighteen percent (n = 880) of the families reported firearms in the home. Families with African American and Hispanic children had lower odds of owning firearms than families with non-Hispanic White children. The most common reasons for ownership were protection from crime and hunting. Six percent (n = 56) of the families with firearms stored at least one firearm unlocked, assembled, without a trigger lock, and with unlocked ammunition. Compared with families with non-Hispanic White children, families with African American children engaged in safer storage practices. Results can inform childhood firearm injury prevention activities.

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“But We’re Not Hypochondriacs”: The Changing Shape of Gluten-Free Dieting and the Contested Illness Experience

Lauren Renée Moore
Social Science & Medicine, March 2014, Pages 76–83

Abstract:
“Gluten free” exploded onto the American foodscape in recent years: as of January 2013, 30 percent of U.S. adults reported reducing or eliminating gluten in their diets. How do individuals participate in the expansion of gluten-free dieting, and what are the implications of that expansion? This article is based on 31 in-depth, semi-structured interviews conducted between May and October 2012 with gluten-free and -restricted persons. I identify three interrelated factors contributing to the expansion of gluten-free dieting among non-celiacs. Participants broaden the lay understanding of gluten-related disorders, undermine biomedical authority, and diagnose others. Such participant-driven change, termed self-ascriptive looping, is one factor in the diet’s rapid popularization. I show how participants question the doctor-patient relationship and increase social contestability for other dieters. My findings challenge previous work on contested illness and suggest food intolerances may require a reconceptualization of contested illness experience.

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Life expectancy and economic growth

Lars Kunze
Journal of Macroeconomics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the relationship between life expectancy and economic growth in an overlapping generations model with family altruism where private and public investments in human capital of children are the engine of endogenous growth. Consistent with recent empirical evidence, our model provides a theoretical case of a non-linear pattern between life expectancy and economic growth. However, it is also shown that the emergence of such a pattern critically depends on the existence of intergenerational transfers in form of bequests. Specifically, we find that rising life expectancy unambiguously decreases growth if bequests are operative, whereas there exists an inverted-U shape relationship in economies where bequests are inoperative.

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Healthcare Worker Contact Networks and the Prevention of Hospital-Acquired Infections

Donald Curtis et al.
PLoS ONE, December 2013

Abstract:
We present a comprehensive approach to using electronic medical records (EMR) for constructing contact networks of healthcare workers in a hospital. This approach is applied at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) – a 3.2 million square foot facility with 700 beds and about 8,000 healthcare workers – by obtaining 19.8 million EMR data points, spread over more than 21 months. We use these data to construct 9,000 different healthcare worker contact networks, which serve as proxies for patterns of actual healthcare worker contacts. Unlike earlier approaches, our methods are based on large-scale data and do not make any a priori assumptions about edges (contacts) between healthcare workers, degree distributions of healthcare workers, their assignment to wards, etc. Preliminary validation using data gathered from a 10-day long deployment of a wireless sensor network in the Medical Intensive Care Unit suggests that EMR logins can serve as realistic proxies for hospital-wide healthcare worker movement and contact patterns. Despite spatial and job-related constraints on healthcare worker movement and interactions, analysis reveals a strong structural similarity between the healthcare worker contact networks we generate and social networks that arise in other (e.g., online) settings. Furthermore, our analysis shows that disease can spread much more rapidly within the constructed contact networks as compared to random networks of similar size and density. Using the generated contact networks, we evaluate several alternate vaccination policies and conclude that a simple policy that vaccinates the most mobile healthcare workers first, is robust and quite effective relative to a random vaccination policy.

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Compulsory Schooling Reforms, Education and Mortality in Twentieth Century Europe

Christina Gathmann, Hendrik Jürges & Steffen Reinhold
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
Education yields substantial non-monetary benefits, but the size of these gains is still debated. Previous studies report causal effects of education and compulsory schooling on mortality ranging anywhere from zero to large and negative. Using data from 18 compulsory schooling reforms implemented in Europe during the twentieth century, we quantify the average mortality gain and explore its dispersion across gender, time and countries. We find that more education yields small mortality reductions in the short- and long-run for men. In contrast, women seem to experience no mortality reductions from compulsory schooling reforms.

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Combat Exposure and Migraine Headache: Evidence from Exogenous Deployment Assignment

Resul Cesur, Joseph Sabia & Erdal Tekin
Economics & Human Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Migraine headache is a growing problem for U.S. servicemembers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and has been linked to substantial negative socioeconomic consequences. However, there has been no comprehensive examination of the relationship between combat exposure and migraine headache or its stress-related triggers. Analyzing data drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we use exogenous variation in deployment assignment to estimate the effect of combat exposure on migraine headache. We find that those deployed to a combat zone with enemy firefight are at substantially increased risk for migraine headache relative to those deployed to non-combat zones outside the United States or to combat zones without enemy firefight. We find that combat-induced sleep disorders, stress-related psychological problems, and physical injuries in combat explain approximately 40 to 45 percent of the relationship between combat exposure and migraine headache.

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The Impact of Recent Chemotherapy Innovation on the Longevity of Myeloma Patients: U.S. and International Evidence

Frank Lichtenberg & Gisela Hostenkamp
Columbia University Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
There were no innovations in chemotherapy for myeloma patients during the period 1977-1997, but there have been several important innovations since 1997. We investigate the impact of recent chemotherapy innovation on the longevity of myeloma patients using both time-series U.S. data and longitudinal data on 26 countries. In the US, the average annual rate of increase of life expectancy of myeloma patients at time of diagnosis was over five times as large during 1997-2005 as it had been during 1975-1997. We estimate that almost two-thirds (0.99 years) of the 1997-2005 increase in life expectancy was due to the increase in the number of chemotherapy regimens now preferred by specialists, and that the cost per U.S. life-year gained from post-1997 chemotherapy innovation did not exceed $45,551. We also investigate the impact of chemotherapy innovation on the myeloma mortality rate using longitudinal country-level data on 26 countries during the period 2005-2009. Countries that had larger increases in the number of chemotherapy regimens had larger subsequent declines in myeloma mortality rates, controlling for other factors. The estimates imply that chemotherapy innovation reduced the age-adjusted myeloma cancer mortality rate by about 3.1% during the period 2005-2009.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, February 10, 2014

Underworld

Does Growing Up in a High Crime Neighborhood Affect Youth Criminal Behavior?

Anna Piil Damm & Christian Dustmann
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the effect of early exposure to neighborhood crime on subsequent criminal behavior of youth exploiting a unique natural experiment between 1986 and 1998 when refugee immigrants to Denmark were assigned to neighborhoods quasi-randomly. We find strong evidence that the share of young people convicted for crimes, in particular violent crimes, in the neighborhood increases convictions of male assignees later in life. No such effects are found for other measures of neighborhood crime including the rate of committed crimes. Our findings suggest social interaction as a key channel through which neighborhood crime is linked to individual criminal behavior.

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Rolling Back Prices and Raising Crime Rates? The Walmart Effect on Crime in the United States

Scott Wolfe & David Pyrooz
British Journal of Criminology, March 2014, Pages 199-221

Abstract:
Wal-Mart is not an ordinary retail store — communities are impacted in significant ways by its entrance. Using various data sources and propensity-weighted multilevel modelling, this paper explores the ‘Wal-Mart effect’ on crime. Concentrating on the 1990s, results reveal that Wal-Mart is located in United States counties with higher crime rates, net of robust macro-level correlates of crime. Wal-Mart selected into counties primed for the 1990s crime decline, but, after accounting for endogeneity, growth of the company stunted crime declines when compared to matched counties. A Wal-Mart–crime relationship exists. If Wal-Mart did not build in a county, property crime rates fell by an additional 17 units per capita from the 1990s to the 2000s. A marginally statistically significant, yet stable, effect for violent crime was also observed, falling by two units per capita. These findings provide important theoretical implications regarding the influence of specific economic forces on aggregate crime trends and offer important implications for local governments faced with the prospect of Wal-Mart entering their communities.

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Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown

James Alan Fox & Monica DeLateur
Homicide Studies, February 2014, Pages 125-145

Abstract:
Mass shootings at a Connecticut elementary school, a Colorado movie theater, and other venues have prompted a fair number of proposals for change. Advocates for tighter gun restrictions, for expanding mental health services, for upgrading security in public places, and, even, for controlling violent entertainment have made certain assumptions about the nature of mass murder that are not necessarily valid. This article examines a variety of myths and misconceptions about multiple homicide and mass shooters, pointing out some of the difficult realities in trying to avert these murderous rampages. While many of the policy proposals are worthwhile in general, their prospects for reducing the risk of mass murder are limited.

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Link between Unemployment and Crime in the U.S.: A Markov-Switching Approach

Firouz Fallahi & Gabriel Rodríguez
Social Science Research, May 2014, Pages 33–45

Abstract:
This study has two goals. The first is to use Markov Switching models to identify and analyze the cycles in the unemployment rate and four different types of property-related criminal activities in the U.S. The second is to apply the nonparametric concordance index of Harding and Pagan (2006) to determine the correlation between the cycles of unemployment rate and property crimes. Findings show that there is a positive but insignificant relationship between the unemployment rate, burglary, larceny, and robbery. However, the unemployment rate has a significant and negative (i.e., a counter-cyclical) relationship with motor-vehicle theft. Therefore, more motor-vehicle thefts occur during economic expansions relative to contractions. Next, we divide the sample into three different subsamples to examine the consistency of the findings. The results show that the co-movements between the unemployment rate and property crimes during recession periods are much weaker, when compared with that of the normal periods of the U.S. economy.

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Insurance fraud and corruption in the United States

Rajeev Goel
Applied Financial Economics, Winter 2014, Pages 241-246

Abstract:
Using cross-sectional data for US states, this article examines the determinants of insurance fraud, focusing especially on the nexus between convictions for corruption and for insurance fraud. Results show that corruption convictions tend to crowd out insurance fraud convictions – i.e., increases in convictions for corruption result in lower fraud convictions. In other findings, more crime fighting and prosecutorial resources increase fraud convictions, while the effects of specific insurance regulations are statistically insignificant. These findings are generally robust to simultaneity between corruption and insurance fraud. Policy implications are discussed.

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Crime and Mental Well-Being

Francesca Cornaglia, Naomi Feldman & Andrew Leigh
Journal of Human Resources, Winter 2014, Pages 110-140

Abstract:
We provide empirical evidence of crime’s impact on the mental well-being of both victims and nonvictims. We differentiate between the direct impact to victims and the indirect impact to society due to the fear of crime. The results show a decrease in mental well-being after violent crime victimization and that the violent crime rate has a negative impact on mental well-being of nonvictims. Property crime victimization and property crime rates show no such comparable impact. Finally, we estimate that society-wide impact of increasing the crime rate by one victim is about 80 times more than the direct impact on the victim.

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The Moral Economy of Violence in the US Inner City

George Karandinos et al.
Current Anthropology, February 2014, Pages 1-22

Abstract:
In an 8-week period, there were 16 shootings with three fatalities, three stabbings, and 14 additional “aggravated assaults” in the four square blocks surrounding our field site in the Puerto Rican corner of North Philadelphia. In the aftermath of the shoot-outs, the drug sellers operating on our block were forced to close down their operations by several mothers who repeatedly called the police. Drawing on the concept of moral economy (Thompson, Scott, Taussig), Mauss’s interpretation of gift exchange, and a political economy critique of hyper-carceralization in the United States, we understand the high levels of US inner-city violence as operating within a moral logic framed by economic scarcity and hostile state relations. Residents seek security, self-respect, and profit in social networks that compel them to participate in solidary exchanges of assistive violence dynamized by kinship and gender obligations. A hierarchical, extractive drug economy fills the void left by deindustrialization, resulting in a dynamic of embodied primitive accumulation at the expense of addicted customers and chronically incarcerated just-in-time street sellers at high risk of assault. Nevertheless, the mobilization of violence organizing the illegal drug economy also follows ethical norms and obligations that are recognized as legitimate by many local residents.

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Do school disciplinary policies have positive social impacts? Examining the attenuating effects of school policies on the relationship between personal and peer delinquency

Gregory Zimmerman & Carter Rees
Journal of Criminal Justice, January–February 2014, Pages 54–65

Purpose: Empirical research has yet to demonstrate that strict school disciplinary policies deter student misconduct. However, underlying the null and negative effects observed in prior research may be competing social impacts. What is missing from prior research is an acknowledgement that the deviance amplification effects of criminogenic risk factors may be partially offset by the general deterrence effects of strict school sanctions.

Methods: Using data from the school administrator questionnaire, the in-school interview, and the in-home interview from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study employs logistic hierarchical models to investigate whether strict school sanctions condition the relationship between personal and peer smoking, drinking, and fighting.

Results: Results indicate that the effects of peer smoking, drinking, and fighting on corresponding respondent delinquency are attenuated in schools with strict sanction policies for these behaviors.

Conclusions: Results suggest that school policies can aid in preventing crime in unanticipated ways, for example, by reducing the crime-inducing effects of having delinquent peers. Prior research may therefore be unintentionally discounting the general deterrence effects of school disciplinary policies by neglecting the moderating mechanisms through which these policies operate.

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Victims Behind Bars: A Preliminary Study on Abuse During Juvenile Incarceration and Post-Release Social and Emotional Functioning

Carly Dierkhising, Andrea Lane & Misaki Natsuaki
Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
Knowledge of preincarceration experiences of abuse among youth in the juvenile justice system continues to grow, however we know very little about their experience of abuse during incarceration. Empirical evidence on abuse during incarceration is needed for policymakers to advocate on behalf of the safety of incarcerated youth. This preliminary study evaluated the prevalence of abuse during incarceration in secure juvenile facilities and examined how abuse during incarceration is associated with postrelease adjustment among a sample of formerly incarcerated young adults (n = 62; male = 75.8%). Nearly all youth experienced some type of abuse (e.g., physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, denial of food, and excessive stays in solitary confinement) during incarceration (96.8%). The more frequent a youth was exposed to abuse during incarceration, the more likely they were to report posttraumatic stress reactions, depressive symptoms, and continued criminal involvement postrelease. This association was significant even after controlling for preincarceration child maltreatment. We discuss policy implications to improve the safety of youth during incarceration.

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Neighborhood Alcohol Outlets and the Association with Violent Crime in One Mid-Atlantic City: The Implications for Zoning Policy

Jacky Jennings et al.
Journal of Urban Health, February 2014, Pages 62-71

Abstract:
Violent crime such as homicide causes significant excess morbidity and mortality in US urban areas. A health impact assessment (HIA) identified zoning policy related to alcohol outlets as one way to decrease violent crime. The objectives were to determine the relationship between alcohol outlets including off-premise alcohol outlets and violent crime in one urban area to provide local public health evidence to inform a zoning code rewrite. An ecologic analysis of census tracts in Baltimore City was conducted from 2011 to 2012. The data included violent crimes (n = 51,942) from 2006 to 2010, licensed alcohol outlets establishments (n = 1,327) from 2005 to 2006, and data on neighborhood disadvantage, percent minority, percent occupancy, and drug arrests from 2005 to 2009. Negative binomial regression models were used to determine the relationship between the counts of alcohol outlets and violent crimes controlling for other factors. Spatial correlation was assessed and regression inference adjusted accordingly. Each one-unit increase in the number of alcohol outlets was associated with a 2.2 % increase in the count of violent crimes adjusting for neighborhood disadvantage, percent minority, percent occupancy, drug arrests, and spatial dependence (IRR = 1.022, 95 % CI = 1.015, 1.028). Off-premise alcohol outlets were significantly associated with violent crime in the adjusted model (IRR = 1.048, 95 % CI = 1.035, 1.061). Generating Baltimore-specific estimates of the relationship between alcohol outlets and violent crime has been central to supporting the incorporation of alcohol outlet policies in the zoning code rewrite being conducted in Baltimore City.

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The Role of Neighborhood Context in Youth Co-Offending

David Schaefer, Nancy Rodriguez & Scott Decker
Criminology, February 2014, Pages 117–139

Abstract:
Despite co-offending being a core criminological fact, locating suitable peers has many challenges. Chief among these, given the risky nature of co-offending, is finding trustworthy accomplices. We propose that neighborhoods serve as youths’ most ready source of accomplices, and as such, their composition affects the likelihood of identifying suitable co-offenders. In particular, youth are more likely to co-offend in contexts with more peers of their race/ethnicity, less disadvantage, and greater residential stability — all of which promote trust among neighbors. We test our hypotheses using multilevel models applied to census data and official court records for 7,484 delinquent youth in a large metropolitan area. The results offer support for our hypotheses and provide greater insight into how individual and contextual factors combine to affect co-offending behavior. An implication of these findings is that many of the same neighborhood characteristics that reduce crime lead to a greater proportion of co-offending.

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Delinquent Behavior, the Transition to Adulthood, and the Likelihood of Military Enlistment

Jay Teachman & Lucky Tedrow
Social Science Research, May 2014, Pages 46–55

Abstract:
Using data taken from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth we examine the relationship between delinquency and enlistment in the military. We argue that delinquent behavior is positively related to enlistment because military service is an attractive alternative for delinquents to mark their transition to adulthood and their desistance from delinquent behavior. We also argue, however, that this relationship is not linear, with higher levels of delinquent behavior actually acting to reduce the likelihood of enlistment. We further suggest that the relationship between delinquency and enlistment is similar for men and women. We test and find support for our hypotheses using data taken from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

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The Nature and Incidence of Software Piracy: Evidence from Windows

Susan Athey & Scott Stern
NBER Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
This paper evaluates the nature, relative incidence and drivers of software piracy. In contrast to prior studies, we analyze data that allows us to measure piracy for a specific product – Windows 7 – which was associated with a significant level of private sector investment. Using anonymized telemetry data, we are able to characterize the ways in which piracy occurs, the relative incidence of piracy across different economic and institutional environments, and the impact of enforcement efforts on choices to install pirated versus paid software. We find that: (a) the vast majority of “retail piracy” can be attributed to a small number of widely distributed “hacks” that are available through the Internet, (b) the incidence of piracy varies significantly with the microeconomic and institutional environment, and (c) software piracy primarily focuses on the most “advanced” version of Windows (Windows Ultimate). After controlling for a small number of measures of institutional quality and broadband infrastructure, one important candidate driver of piracy – GDP per capita – has no significant impact on the observed piracy rate, while the innovation orientation of an economy is associated with a lower rate of piracy. Finally, we are able to evaluate how piracy changes in response to country-specific anti-piracy enforcement efforts against specific peer-to-peer websites; overall, we find no systematic evidence that such enforcement efforts have had an impact on the incidence of software piracy.

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Restrictive Deterrent Effects of a Warning Banner in an Attacked Computer System

David Maimon et al.
Criminology, February 2014, Pages 33–59

Abstract:
System trespassing by computer intruders is a growing concern among millions of Internet users. However, little research has employed criminological insights to explore the effectiveness of security means to deter unauthorized access to computer systems. Drawing on the deterrence perspective, we employ a large set of target computers built for the sole purpose of being attacked and conduct two independent experiments to investigate the influence of a warning banner on the progression, frequency, and duration of system trespassing incidents. In both experiments, the target computers (86 computers in the first experiment and 502 computers in the second) were set either to display or not to display a warning banner once intruders had successfully infiltrated the systems; 1,058 trespassing incidents were observed in the first experiment and 3,768 incidents in the second. The findings reveal that although a warning banner does not lead to an immediate termination or a reduction in the frequency of trespassing incidents, it significantly reduces their duration. Moreover, we find that the effect of a warning message on the duration of repeated trespassing incidents is attenuated in computers with a large bandwidth capacity. These findings emphasize the relevance of restrictive deterrence constructs in the study of system trespassing.

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A New Look into Broken Windows: What Shapes Individuals’ Perceptions of Social Disorder?

Joshua Hinkle & Sue-Ming Yang
Journal of Criminal Justice, January–February 2014, Pages 26–35

Purpose: This study compares perceptual and observational measures of social disorder to examine the influence of observable levels of disorder in shaping residents’ perceptions of social problems on their street.

Methods: This study uses regression models utilizing data from a survey of residents, systematic social observations and police calls for service to explore the formation of perceptions of social disorder.

Results: We find little correspondence between residents’ perceptual and researchers’ observational measures of social disorder, suggesting that residents form perceptions of social disorder differently than do outsiders to their community. However, researchers’ observations of physical disorder were found to strongly influence residents’ perceptions of social disorder. Findings also suggest that people with different demographic backgrounds and life experiences may perceive the same social environment in very different ways.

Conclusions: The results add to a growing literature suggesting that social disorder is a social construct, rather than a concrete phenomenon. Moreover, we suggest that the linkage between physical disorder and residents’ perceptions of social disorder might provide an avenue for police to address residents’ fear of crime while avoiding some of the criticisms that have been leveled against programs targeting social disorder.

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Jurisdiction, Crime, and Development: The Impact of Public Law 280 in Indian Country

Valentina Dimitrova-Grajzl, Peter Grajzl & Joseph Guse
Law & Society Review, March 2014, Pages 127–160

Abstract:
Public Law 280 transferred jurisdiction over criminal and civil matters from the federal to state governments and increased the extent of nontribal law enforcement in selected parts of Indian country. Where enacted, the law fundamentally altered the preexisting legal order. Public Law 280 thus provides a unique opportunity to study the impact of legal institutions and their change on socioeconomic outcomes. The law's controversial content has attracted interest from legal scholars. However, empirical studies of its impact are scarce and do not address the law's endogenous nature. We examine the law's impact on crime and on economic development in U.S. counties with significant American-Indian reservation population. To address the issue of selection of areas subject to Public Law 280, our empirical strategy draws on the law's politico-historical context. We find that the application of Public Law 280 increased crime and lowered incomes. The law's adverse impact is robust and noteworthy in magnitude.

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Linking Specialization and Seriousness in Criminal Careers

John MacDonald et al.
Advances in Life Course Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Some research suggests that recidivistic criminal offending patterns typically progress in a stepping-stone manner from less to more serious forms of offending from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. Whether the progression into more serious types of offending reflects patterns of crime specialization is a matter of debate. Using data from 449 adolescent offenders who were interviewed at six time points between adolescence and adulthood, we present a new method for measuring crime specialization and apply it to an assessment of the link between specialization and offense seriousness. We measure specialization by constructing an empirical measure of how similar crimes are from each other based on the rate at which crimes co-occur within individual crime pathways over a given offender population. We then use these empirically-based population-specific offense similarities to assign a specialization score to each subject at each time period based on the set of crimes they self-report at that time. Finally, we examine how changes over time in specialization, within individuals, is correlated with changes in the seriousness of the offenses they report committing. Results suggest that the progression of crime into increasingly serious forms of offending does not reflect a general pattern of offense specialization. Implications for life course research are noted.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Team building

Gossip and Ostracism Promote Cooperation in Groups

Matthew Feinberg, Robb Willer & Michael Schultz
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The widespread existence of cooperation is difficult to explain because individuals face strong incentives to exploit the cooperative tendencies of others. In the research reported here, we examined how the spread of reputational information through gossip promotes cooperation in mixed-motive settings. Results showed that individuals readily communicated reputational information about others, and recipients used this information to selectively interact with cooperative individuals and ostracize those who had behaved selfishly, which enabled group members to contribute to the public good with reduced threat of exploitation. Additionally, ostracized individuals responded to exclusion by subsequently cooperating at levels comparable to those who were not ostracized. These results suggest that the spread of reputational information through gossip can mitigate egoistic behavior by facilitating partner selection, thereby helping to solve the problem of cooperation even in noniterated interactions.

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Grief Functions as an Honest Indicator of Commitment

Bo Winegard et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Grief is a puzzling phenomenon. It is often costly and prolonged, potentially increasing mortality rates, drug abuse, withdrawal from social life, and susceptibility to illness. These costs cannot be repaid by the deceased and therefore might appear wasted. In the following article, we propose a possible solution. Using the principles of social selection theory, we argue that an important selective pressure behind the human grief response was the social decisions of other humans. We combine this with insights from signaling theory, noting that grief shares many properties with other hard-to-fake social signals. We therefore contend that grief was shaped by selective forces to function as a hard-to-fake signal of (a) a person's propensity to form strong, non-utilitarian bonds and (b) a person's current level of commitment to a group or cause. This theory explains many of the costly symptoms of grief and provides a progressive framework for future research.

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Theory of Mind: Did Evolution Fool Us?

Marie Devaine, Guillaume Hollard & Jean Daunizeau
PLoS ONE, February 2014

Abstract:
Theory of Mind (ToM) is the ability to attribute mental states (e.g., beliefs and desires) to other people in order to understand and predict their behaviour. If others are rewarded to compete or cooperate with you, then what they will do depends upon what they believe about you. This is the reason why social interaction induces recursive ToM, of the sort "I think that you think that I think, etc.". Critically, recursion is the common notion behind the definition of sophistication of human language, strategic thinking in games, and, arguably, ToM. Although sophisticated ToM is believed to have high adaptive fitness, broad experimental evidence from behavioural economics, experimental psychology and linguistics point towards limited recursivity in representing other's beliefs. In this work, we test whether such apparent limitation may not in fact be proven to be adaptive, i.e. optimal in an evolutionary sense. First, we propose a meta-Bayesian approach that can predict the behaviour of ToM sophistication phenotypes who engage in social interactions. Second, we measure their adaptive fitness using evolutionary game theory. Our main contribution is to show that one does not have to appeal to biological costs to explain our limited ToM sophistication. In fact, the evolutionary cost/benefit ratio of ToM sophistication is non trivial. This is partly because an informational cost prevents highly sophisticated ToM phenotypes to fully exploit less sophisticated ones (in a competitive context). In addition, cooperation surprisingly favours lower levels of ToM sophistication. Taken together, these quantitative corollaries of the "social Bayesian brain" hypothesis provide an evolutionary account for both the limitation of ToM sophistication in humans as well as the persistence of low ToM sophistication levels.

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Barriers to Transforming Hostile Relations: Why Friendly Gestures Can Backfire

Tanya Menon, Oliver Sheldon & Adam Galinsky
Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, February 2014, Pages 17-37

Abstract:
Friendly gestures (e.g., smiles, flattery, favors) typically build trust and earn good will. However, we propose that people feel unsettled when enemies initiate friendly gestures. To resolve these sensemaking difficulties, people find order through superstitious reasoning about friendly enemies. Supporting this theorizing, friendly enemies created sensemaking difficulty, which in turn mediated people's tendencies to blame them for coincidental negative outcomes (Experiment 1). Further implicating these processes, individuals high in need for structure were especially prone to make these attributions (Experiment 2). Finally, we explored consequences of such blame, showing that blame mediates people's beliefs that mere contact with friendly enemies is unlucky and should be avoided (Experiment 3). Taken together, these results suggest that, rather than transforming hostile relationships, an enemy's friendliness can be so unnerving that it sometimes leads people down blind alleys of superstitious reasoning.

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The Signaling Value of Online Social Networks: Lessons from Peer-to-Peer Lending

Seth Freedman & Ginger Zhe Jin
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
We examine whether social networks facilitate online markets using data from a leading peer-to-peer lending website. Borrowers with social ties are consistently more likely to have their loans funded and receive lower interest rates. However, most social loans do not perform better ex post, except for loans with endorsements from friends contributing to the loan or loans with group characteristics most likely to provide screening and monitoring. We also find evidence of gaming on borrower participation in social networks. Overall, our findings suggest that return-maximizing lenders should be careful in interpreting social ties within the risky pool of social borrowers.

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Breaking the Letter vs. Spirit of the Law: How the Interpretation of Contract Violations Affects Trust and the Management of Relationships

Derek Harmon, Peter Kim & Kyle Mayer
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Contract violations are ubiquitous. There has been little attention, however, dedicated to understanding the mechanisms involved in making sense of and addressing such occurrences. Two experimental studies investigated how people interpret contract violations and how these interpretations affect trust and the management of relationships. By drawing on the distinction between violations of the letter versus spirit of the law, we show that letter violations are more difficult to overcome than spirit violations, due to higher perceived intentionality. These effects generalized across different populations, levels of contracting experience, types of contracting contexts, levels of ambiguity within the contract, and degrees of contract complexity. The results yield important implications for understanding contract violations, trust, and organizational responses as a relationship management capability.

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Democratic decisions establish stable authorities that overcome the paradox of second-order punishment

Christian Hilbe et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 14 January 2014, Pages 752-756

Abstract:
Individuals usually punish free riders but refuse to sanction those who cooperate but do not punish. This missing second-order peer punishment is a fundamental problem for the stabilization of cooperation. To solve this problem, most societies today have implemented central authorities that punish free riders and tax evaders alike, such that second-order punishment is fully established. The emergence of such stable authorities from individual decisions, however, creates a new paradox: it seems absurd to expect individuals who do not engage in second-order punishment to strive for an authority that does. Herein, we provide a mathematical model and experimental results from a public goods game where subjects can choose between a community with and without second-order punishment in two different ways. When subjects can migrate continuously to either community, we identify a bias toward institutions that do not punish tax evaders. When subjects have to vote once for all rounds of the game and have to accept the decision of the majority, they prefer a society with second-order punishment. These findings uncover the existence of a democracy premium. The majority-voting rule allows subjects to commit themselves and to implement institutions that eventually lead to a higher welfare for all.

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Collaboration, Stars, and the Changing Organization of Science: Evidence from Evolutionary Biology

Ajay Agrawal, John McHale & Alexander Oettl
NBER Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
We report a puzzling pair of facts concerning the organization of science. The concentration of research output is declining at the department level but increasing at the individual level. For example, in evolutionary biology, over the period 1980 to 2000, the fraction of citation-weighted publications produced by the top 20% of departments falls from approximately 75% to 60% but over the same period rises for the top 20% of individual scientists from 70% to 80%. We speculate that this may be due to changing patterns of collaboration, perhaps caused by the rising burden of knowledge and the falling cost of communication, both of which increase the returns to collaboration. Indeed, we report evidence that the propensity to collaborate is rising over time. Furthermore, the nature of collaboration is also changing. For example, the geographic distance as well as the difference in institution rank between collaborators is increasing over time. Moreover, the relative size of the pool of potential distant collaborators for star versus non-star scientists is rising over time. We develop a simple model based on star advantage in terms of the opportunities for collaboration that provides a unified explanation for these facts. Finally, considering the effect of individual location decisions of stars on the overall distribution of human capital, we speculate on the efficiency of the emerging distribution of scientific activity, given the localized externalities generated by stars on the one hand and the increasing returns to distant collaboration on the other.

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Behavioral and Emotional Dynamics of Two People Struggling to Reach Consensus about a Topic on Which They Disagree

Levent Kurt et al.
PLoS ONE, January 2014

Abstract:
We studied the behavioral and emotional dynamics displayed by two people trying to resolve a conflict. 59 groups of two people were asked to talk for 20 minutes to try to reach a consensus about a topic on which they disagreed. The topics were abortion, affirmative action, death penalty, and euthanasia. Behavior data were determined from audio recordings where each second of the conversation was assessed as proself, neutral, or prosocial. We determined the probability density function of the durations of time spent in each behavioral state. These durations were well fit by a stretched exponential distribution, with an exponent, , of approximately 0.3. This indicates that the switching between behavioral states is not a random Markov process, but one where the probability to switch behavioral states decreases with the time already spent in that behavioral state. The degree of this "memory" was stronger in those groups who did not reach a consensus and where the conflict grew more destructive than in those that did. Emotion data were measured by having each person listen to the audio recording and moving a computer mouse to recall their negative or positive emotional valence at each moment in the conversation. We used the Hurst rescaled range analysis and power spectrum to determine the correlations in the fluctuations of the emotional valence. The emotional valence was well described by a random walk whose increments were uncorrelated. Thus, the behavior data demonstrated a "memory" of the duration already spent in a behavioral state while the emotion data fluctuated as a random walk whose steps did not have a "memory" of previous steps. This work demonstrates that statistical analysis, more commonly used to analyze physical phenomena, can also shed interesting light on the dynamics of processes in social psychology and conflict management.

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Is Avatar-to-avatar Communication as Effective as Face-to-face Communication? - An Ultimatum Game Experiment in First and Second Life

Ben Greiner, Mary Caravella & Alvin Roth
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
We report results from an Ultimatum Game experiment with and without pre-play communication, conducted both in a real-world experimental laboratory and in the virtual world Second Life. In the laboratory, we replicate previous results that communication increases offers and agreement rates significantly, and more so for face-to-face communication than for text-chat. In Second Life we detect a level shift to more cooperation when there is no communication, either driven by selection on unobservables or environmental effects. The higher cooperativeness in the virtual world lowers the need for additional communication between avatars in order to achieve efficient outcomes. Consistent with this we are not able to detect an effect of allowing avatar-to-avatar communication.

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The conflict of social norms may cause the collapse of cooperation: Indirect reciprocity with opposing attitudes towards in-group favoritism

Tadasu Matsuo, Marko Jusup & Yoh Iwasa
Journal of Theoretical Biology, 7 April 2014, Pages 34-46

Abstract:
Indirect reciprocity is a cooperation maintaining mechanism based on the social evaluation of players. Here, we consider the case of a group in which two social norms with opposing attitudes towards in-group favoritism are mixed. One norm, called Bushido (the way of warriors), regards cooperation with outsiders as betrayal, whereas the second norm, called Shonindo (the way of merchants), regards cooperation with outsiders as desirable. Each member of the group, irrespective of being a Bushido or a Shonindo player, is evaluated in two different ways and assigned two different labels: "ally" or "enemy" according to the Bushido evaluation; "good" or "bad" according to the Shonindo evaluation. These labels change in response to the action taken (cooperation or defection) when acting as a donor, as well as the label attached to the recipient. In addition to Bushido players, who cooperate with an ally and defect from an enemy, and Shonindo players, who cooperate with a good recipient and defect from a bad recipient, the group contains a third kind of players - unconditional defectors. The fractions of the three types of players follow the replicator dynamics. If the probability of interacting with outsiders is small, and if the cost-to-benefit ratio of cooperation is low, we observe several important patterns. Each social norm is able to maintain a high level of cooperation when dominant. Bushido and Shonindo players evaluate each other unfavorably and engage in a severe conflict. In the end, only one norm permeates the whole group driving the other to the extinction. When both social norms are equally effective, a rare occurrence of unconditional defectors may lead to a successful invasion.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Offsides

How “It Gets Better”: Effectively Communicating Support to Targets of Prejudice

Aneeta Rattan & Nalini Ambady
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
What is said when communicating intergroup support to targets of prejudice, and how do targets react? We hypothesized that people not targeted by prejudice reference social connection (e.g., social support) more than social change (e.g., calling for a reduction in prejudice) in their supportive messages. However, we hypothesized that targets of prejudice would be more comforted by social change messages. We content coded naturalistic messages of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning teenagers from youtube.com (Study 1) and college undergraduates’ statements (Study 2a) and found social connection messages more frequent than social change messages. Next, we explored targets’ responses (Studies 2b-4b). Lesbian and gay participants rated social connection messages less comforting than social change messages (Study 3). Study 4 showed that only targets of prejudice distinguish social connection from social change messages in this way, versus non-targets. These results highlight the importance of studying the communication, content, and consequences of positive intergroup attitudes.

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Anti-Gay Prejudice and All-Cause Mortality Among Heterosexuals in the United States

Mark Hatzenbuehler, Anna Bellatorre & Peter Muennig
American Journal of Public Health, February 2014, Pages 332-337

Objectives: We determined whether individuals who harbor antigay prejudice experience elevated mortality risk.

Methods: Data on heterosexual sexual orientation (n = 20 226, aged 18–89 years), antigay attitudes, and mortality risk factors came from the General Social Survey, which was linked to mortality data from the National Death Index (1988–2008). We used Cox proportional hazard models to examine whether antigay prejudice was associated with mortality risk among heterosexuals.

Results: Heterosexuals who reported higher levels of antigay prejudice had higher mortality risk than those who reported lower levels (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.25; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.09, 1.42), with control for multiple risk factors for mortality, including demographics, socioeconomic status, and fair or poor self-rated health. This result translates into a life expectancy difference of approximately 2.5 years (95% CI = 1.0, 4.0 years) between individuals with high versus low levels of antigay prejudice. Furthermore, in sensitivity analyses, antigay prejudice was specifically associated with increased risk of cardiovascular-related causes of death in fully adjusted models (HR = 1.29; 95% CI = 1.04, 1.60).

Conclusions: The findings contribute to a growing body of research suggesting that reducing prejudice may improve the health of both minority and majority populations.

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Does the Mask Govern the Mind?: Effects of Arbitrary Gender Representation on Quantitative Task Performance in Avatar-Represented Virtual Groups

Jong-Eun Roselyn Lee, Clifford Nass & Jeremy Bailenson
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, forthcoming

Abstract:
Virtual environments employing avatars for self-representation — including the opportunity to represent or misrepresent social categories — raise interesting and intriguing questions as to how one's avatar-based social category shapes social identity dynamics, particularly when stereotypes prevalent in the offline world apply to the social categories visually represented by avatars. The present experiment investigated how social category representation via avatars (i.e., graphical representations of people in computer-mediated environments) affects stereotype-relevant task performance. In particular, building on and extending the Proteus effect model, we explored whether and how stereotype lift (i.e., a performance boost caused by the awareness of a domain-specific negative stereotype associated with outgroup members) occurred in virtual group settings in which avatar-based gender representation was arbitrary. Female and male participants (N=120) were randomly assigned either a female avatar or a male avatar through a process masked as a random drawing. They were then placed in a numerical minority status with respect to virtual gender — as the only virtual female (male) in a computer-mediated triad with two opposite-gendered avatars — and performed a mental arithmetic task either competitively or cooperatively. The data revealed that participants who were arbitrarily represented by a male avatar and competed against two ostensible female avatars showed strongest performance compared to others on the arithmetic task. This pattern occurred regardless of participants' actual gender, pointing to a virtual stereotype lift effect. Additional mediation tests showed that task motivation partially mediated the effect. Theoretical and practical implications for social identity dynamics in avatar-based virtual environments are discussed.

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Mating Motives and Concerns About Being Misidentified as Gay or Lesbian: Implications for the Avoidance and Derogation of Sexual Minorities

Ashby Plant, Kate Zielaskowski & David Buck
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research has demonstrated that concerns about being misidentified as gay or lesbian lead to the avoidance of gay men and lesbians. Because being misidentified as gay/lesbian can result in the loss of heterosexual people’s mating opportunities, we predicted that the activation of mating motives would heighten concerns among some heterosexuals about being misidentified as gay/lesbian. To combat such misidentification, we argued that heterosexuals would express antipathy toward and avoid contact with gay/lesbian people. Consistent with predictions, the activation of mating motives led heterosexuals who were generally concerned about misclassification as gay/lesbian to denigrate (Study 1) and avoid (Study 2) gay/lesbian people. Activating mating motives increased heterosexual participants’ concerns about being misclassified, which in turn heightened interest in avoiding gay/lesbian people (Study 3). These findings indicate that, although the motivation to find a romantic partner can have positive implications, it can contribute to negative responses to gay/lesbian people.

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Attributions for sexual orientation vs. stereotypes: How beliefs about value violations account for attribution effects on anti-gay discrimination

Christine Reyna et al.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Attributions for sexual orientation strongly predict opposition to gay rights policies; however, we propose that beliefs that gays and lesbians violate important values drive gay rights opposition and account for the relationship between attributions and anti-gay discrimination. In two studies, we found that beliefs that gays and lesbians violate values accounted for much of the relationship between attributions and anti-gay discrimination. In addition, these stereotypes were the most powerful predictors of opposition to gay rights when both value violations and attributions were included in the model. Results also demonstrated that violations of specific values predicted opposition to policies relevant to those values. This suggests that attributions of choice over sexual orientation are less relevant for predicting opposition to gay rights than beliefs about choice to uphold or violate values.

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Gender of Siblings and Choice of College Major

Massimo Anelli & Giovanni Peri
University of California Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
In this study we analyze whether the gender composition of siblings within a family affects the choice of College Major. The question is whether a family environment that is more gender-homogeneous encourages academic choices that are less gender stereotyped. We use the last name and the exact family address contained in a unique dataset covering 30,000 Italian students graduated from high school between 1985 and 2005 to identify siblings. We follow the academic career of these individuals from high school to college graduation. We find that mixed gender siblings within a family tend to choose college majors following a stereotypical gender specialization. Namely, males have higher probability of choosing “male dominated” majors such as Engineering and women higher probability of choosing “female dominated” majors such as Humanities. Same-gender siblings, on the other hand, have higher probability of making non-gender stereotyped choices. This college major choice is not driven by the choice of high school academic curriculum, which appears to be mainly function of geographical proximity to schools.

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Disparities in Safety Belt Use by Sexual Orientation Identity Among US High School Students

Sari Reisner et al.
American Journal of Public Health, February 2014, Pages 311-318

Objectives: We examined associations between adolescents’ safety belt use and sexual orientation identity.

Methods: We pooled data from the 2005 and 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (n = 26 468 weighted; mean age = 15.9 years; 35.4% White, 24.7% Black, 23.5% Latino, 16.4% other). We compared lesbian and gay (1.2%), bisexual (3.5%), and unsure (2.6%) youths with heterosexuals (92.7%) on a binary indicator of passenger safety belt use. We stratified weighted multivariable logistic regression models by sex and adjusted for survey wave and sampling design.

Results: Overall, 12.6% of high school students reported “rarely” or “never” wearing safety belts. Sexual minority youths had increased odds of reporting nonuse relative to heterosexuals (48% higher for male bisexuals, 85% for lesbians, 46% for female bisexuals, and 51% for female unsure youths; P < .05), after adjustment for demographic (age, race/ethnicity), individual (body mass index, depression, bullying, binge drinking, riding with a drunk driver, academic achievement), and contextual (living in jurisdictions with secondary or primary safety belt laws, percentage below poverty, percentage same-sex households) risk factors.

Conclusions: Public health interventions should address sexual orientation identity disparities in safety belt use.

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Sexual Minority Stressors and Psychological Aggression in Lesbian Women’s Intimate Relationships: The Mediating Roles of Rumination and Relationship Satisfaction

Robin Lewis et al.
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Our study examined how two sexual minority stressors (internalized homophobia and social constraints in talking with others about one’s minority sexual identity) are related to psychological aggression (PA) in lesbian women’s relationships. PA includes a range of methods to hurt, coerce, control, and intimidate intimate partners. Rumination (i.e., brooding about one’s self and life situation) and relationship satisfaction were examined as potential mediating variables. Self-identified lesbian women in a same-sex relationship (N = 220) were recruited from a market research firm’s online panel. Participants completed measures of internalized homophobia, social constraints, rumination, relationship satisfaction, and frequency of past year PA victimization and perpetration. Internalized homophobia and social constraints in talking to friends about sexual identity yielded a positive indirect link with PA via a sequential path through rumination and relationship satisfaction. There was an additional indirect positive association of minority stressors with PA via a unique path through rumination. These results demonstrate the importance of continued efforts toward reducing minority stress, where possible, as well as enhancing coping. Given the importance of rumination and relationship satisfaction in the link between minority stressors and PA, it is imperative to improve adaptive coping responses to sexual minority stressors. Development and validation of individual- and couples-based interventions that address coping with sexual minority stressors using methods that decrease rumination and brooding and increase relationship satisfaction are certainly warranted.

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“Hit Me Baby”: From Britney Spears to the Socialization of Sexual Objectification of Girls in a Middle School Drama Program

Laurie Schick
Sexuality & Culture, March 2014, Pages 39-55

Abstract:
This language socialization study integrates ethnographic and intertextual methods of data collection and analysis to examine how one middle school drama class’s performance of Britney Spears’s first hit song, originally titled “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” exemplifies not only how sexually charged media can contribute to the normalization of sexist, abusive, and thus also violent behavior toward women, but also how local caretaking adults can contribute to these socialization practices even within the context of official educational activities. Prior studies related to the socialization of gender equality and sexual abuse prevention in educational institutions have focused on whether and how adult intervention may prevent or stop gender and thus also sexually related abuse. This study indicates that further research into adult complicity and the need for intervention into adult behavior may also be called for. The ethnographic fieldwork for this paper was conducted during a larger language socialization study at a middle school in the western United States. This included the videotaping of rehearsals and performances by middle school students of popular songs. The intertextual data chosen for analysis is based on these ethnographic observations. The conclusion that some adults are actively socializing female sexual objectification and male dominance during school-based activities is based on observations of these locally occurring interactions.

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She Stoops to Conquer? How Posture Interacts With Self-Objectification and Status to Impact Women’s Affect and Performance

Megan Kozak, Tomi-Ann Roberts & Kelsey Patterson
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests that posture exerts powerful affective and cognitive influences, although recent studies have indicated that these embodiment effects are moderated by gender. We examined two sociocultural factors that may contribute to the effects of postural feedback in women: self-objectification and power. Across a 2 × 2 × 2 between-subjects design, 80 female undergraduates completed various cognitive tasks and self-report measures after having been in an upright or slouched posture, seated in either a (powerful) throne or child’s chair, and wearing either a formfitting (objectifying) tank top or loose sweatshirt. The results showed that posture had the predicted influence on mood, with those seated upright reporting more positive mood than those seated in a slouched position. For the cognitive tasks, our findings were more complex and, due to low power, are best considered preliminary. Participants who were seated upright in a child’s chair while wearing a sweatshirt attempted the highest number of math items compared to those in the other conditions, supporting our prediction that postural benefits would be greatest in a context where power cues were gender-appropriate and self-objectification effects were attenuated. On a measure of satisfaction with performance, our findings suggest that self-objectification outweighed the power manipulation, leading to poorer outcomes when a seated position emphasized sexualized features of the body. Taken together, our results suggest that embodiment effects appear to be impacted by contextual cues, perhaps particularly for women.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, February 7, 2014

Nice job

The rising skill premium and deunionization

Ömer Tuğrul Açıkgöz & Barış Kaymak
Journal of Monetary Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
During the past 50 years, the US economy has seen a rapid decline in labor union membership and a substantial rise in wage inequality. Since labor unions compress wages between skilled and unskilled workers, a rising skill premium encourages skilled workers to withdraw from the union. If this withdrawal is accompanied by a fall in the productivity of unskilled workers, firms become reluctant to hire the relatively expensive union workers, reinforcing the decline in the unionization rate. Evaluating this hypothesis, we find that the rise in the skill premium explains about 40% of the decline in the unionization rate.

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Unmasking the Conflicting Trends in Job Tenure by Gender in the United States, 1983-2008

Matissa Hollister & Kristin Smith
American Sociological Review, February 2014, Pages 159-181

Abstract:
Americans are convinced that employment stability has declined in recent decades, but previous research on this question has led to mixed conclusions. A key challenge is that trends for men and women are in opposite directions and appear to cancel each other out. We clarify this situation by examining trends in employer tenure by sex, marital status, and parental status. We find that married mothers are behind the increase in women's job tenure, but men and never-married women have seen declines in tenure. Furthermore, we show that the timing of tenure trends for women parallels periods of increased labor force attachment. Finally, we find that shifts in industry and occupation composition can account for the decline in tenure among men and never-married women before 1996 but not afterward. We situate these diverging trends in two broad shifts in expectations, norms, and behaviors in the labor market: the end-of-work discourse and the revolution in women's identification with paid work. Our findings support the view that job tenure is declining for all groups, but women's greater labor force attachment, especially their more continuous employment around childbirth, countered and masked this trend.

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Small business activity does not measure entrepreneurship

Magnus Henrekson & Tino Sanandaji
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 4 February 2014, Pages 1760-1765

Abstract:
Entrepreneurship policy mainly aims to promote innovative Schumpeterian entrepreneurship. However, the rate of entrepreneurship is commonly proxied using quantity-based metrics, such as small business activity, the self-employment rate, or the number of startups. We argue that those metrics give rise to misleading inferences regarding high-impact Schumpeterian entrepreneurship. To unambiguously identify high-impact entrepreneurs we focus on self-made billionaires (in US dollars) who appear on Forbes Magazine's list and who became wealthy by founding new firms. We identify 996 such billionaire entrepreneurs in 50 countries in 1996-2010, a systematic cross-country study of billionaire entrepreneurs. The rate of billionaire entrepreneurs correlates negatively with self-employment, small business ownership, and firm startup rates. Countries with higher income, higher trust, lower taxes, more venture capital investment, and lower regulatory burdens have higher billionaire entrepreneurship rates but less self-employment. Despite its limitations, the number of billionaire entrepreneurs appears to be a plausible cross-country measure of Schumpeterian entrepreneurship.

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Employment Effects of the 2009 Minimum Wage Increase: New Evidence from State-Based Comparisons of Workers by Skill Level

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

Abstract:
In July, 2009, when the US Federal minimum wage was increased from $6.55 to $7.25, individuals in nearly one-third of all states were unaffected, since the state minimum wage already exceeded $7.25. We use this variation to make comparisons of the employment of low-skill workers with their peers across states and with workers within states who were arguably unaffected by the increase, using DID and DIDID methods. Our data come from the 2009 Current Population Survey, 4 and 5 months before and after the increase. We find little evidence of negative employment effects for teens or less-educated adults. Further control for demographic characteristics and state fixed effects have relatively small effects on the size and significance of estimated effects.

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Return of the Solow Paradox? IT, Productivity, and Employment in U.S. Manufacturing

Daron Acemoglu et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
An increasingly influential "technological-discontinuity" paradigm suggests that IT-induced technological changes are rapidly raising productivity while making workers redundant. This paper explores the evidence for this view among the IT-using U.S. manufacturing industries. There is some limited support for more rapid productivity growth in IT-intensive industries depending on the exact measures, though not since the late 1990s. Most challenging to this paradigm, and our expectations, is that output contracts in IT-intensive industries relative to the rest of manufacturing. Productivity increases, when detectable, result from the even faster declines in employment.

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Declining Migration within the U.S.: The Role of the Labor Market

Raven Molloy, Christopher Smith & Abigail Wozniak
Federal Reserve Working Paper, November 2013

Abstract:
Interstate migration has decreased steadily since the 1980s. We show that this trend is not related to demographic and socioeconomic factors, but that it appears to be connected to a concurrent secular decline in labor market transitions - i.e. the fraction of workers changing employer, industry or occupation. We explore a number of reasons for the dual trends in geographic and labor market transitions, including changes in the distribution of job opportunities across space, polarization in the labor market, concerns of dual-career households, and changes in the net benefit to changing employers. We find little empirical support for all but the last of these hypotheses. Specifically, using data from three cohorts of the National Longitudinal Surveys spanning the 1970s to the 2000s, we find that wage gains associated with employer transitions have fallen, while the returns to staying with the same employer have not changed. We favor the interpretation that, at least from the 1990s to the 2000s, the distribution of outside offers has shifted in a way that has made labor market transitions, and thus geographic transitions, less desirable to workers.

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Generational differences in workplace behavior

John Bret Becton, Harvell Jack Walker & Allison Jones-Farmer
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Popular stereotypes suggest that generational differences among workers present challenges for workplace managers. However, existing empirical research provides mixed evidence for generational differences in important values and attitudes. The current study extends generational effects research by examining differences in actual workplace behaviors. Drawing from commonly held generational stereotypes, the authors hypothesized that Baby Boomers would exhibit (Hypothesis 1) fewer job mobility behaviors and (Hypothesis 2) more instances of compliance-related behaviors in comparison with both GenXers and Millennials, while (Hypothesis 3) GenXers would be less likely to work overtime in comparison with Baby Boomers and Millennials. A sample of 8,040 applicants at two organizations was used to test these predictions. Results provided support for Hypothesis 1 and Hypothesis 3 and partial support for Hypothesis 2, but the effect sizes for these relationships were small. It appears the effects of generational membership on workplace behavior are not as strong as suggested by commonly held stereotypes. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

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Is soccer good for you? The motivational impact of big sporting events on the unemployed

Philipp Doerrenberg & Sebastian Siegloch
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the effect of salient international soccer tournaments on the motivation of unemployed individuals to search for employment using the German Socio Economic Panel 1984-2010. Exploiting the random scheduling of survey interviews, we find significant effects on motivational variables such as the intention to work or the reservation wage. Furthermore, the sporting events increase perceived health as well as worries about the general economic situation.

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Job Hopping, Information Technology Spillovers, and Productivity Growth

Prasanna Tambe & Lorin Hitt
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The movement of information technology (IT) workers among firms is believed to be an important mechanism by which IT-related innovations diffuse throughout the economy. We use a newly developed source of employee microdata - an online resume database - to model IT workers' mobility patterns. We find that firms derive significant productivity benefits from the IT investments of other firms from which they hire IT labor. Our estimates indicate that over the last two decades, productivity spillovers from the IT investments of other firms transmitted through this channel have contributed 20%-30% as much to productivity growth as firms' own IT investments. Moreover, we find that the productivity benefits of locating near other IT-intensive firms can primarily be explained by the mobility of technical workers within the region. Our results are unique to the flow of IT workers among firms, not other occupations, which rules out some alternative explanations related to the similarity of firms that participate in the same labor flow network.

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Client-Based Entrepreneurship

James Rauch & Joel Watson
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Client relationships create value, which employees may try to wrest from their employers by establishing their own firms. If an employer and worker cannot contract on the output and profits of the worker's prospective new firm, at the beginning of their relationship the employer induces the worker to sign a contract that prohibits him from competing or soliciting the current client in the event of termination of employment. The socially optimal level of entrepreneurship will nevertheless be achieved if clients, employers, and workers can renegotiate these restrictive employment contracts and make compensating transfers. If workers cannot finance transfers to employers, however, employers and workers will sign contracts that are too restrictive and produce too little entrepreneurship, and governments can increase welfare by limiting enforcement of these contracts. With or without liquidity constraints, locations where noncompete contracts are less enforced will attract more clients and have higher employment and output.

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Dilettante or Renaissance Person? How the Order of Job Experiences Affects Hiring in an External Labor Market

Ming Leung
American Sociological Review, February 2014, Pages 136-158

Abstract:
Social actors who move across categories are typically disadvantaged relative to their more focused peers. Yet candidates who compile experiences across disparate areas can either be appreciated as renaissance individuals or penalized as dilettantes. Extant literature has focused on the comparison between single versus multiple category members and on skill assessment, hindering its applicability. To discriminate between more versus less successful category spanners, I suggest that the order of accumulated experiences matters, because it serves as an indicator of commitment. I propose the concept of erraticism and predict that employers will prefer candidates who demonstrate some erraticism, by moving incrementally between similar jobs, over candidates who do not move and also over those with highly erratic job histories. Furthermore, I suggest this relationship holds for more complex jobs, less experienced freelancers, and is attenuated through working together. These issues are particularly salient given the rise of external labor markets where careers are increasingly marked by moves across traditional boundaries. I test and find support for these hypotheses with data from an online crowd-sourced labor market for freelancing services, Elance.com. I discuss how virtual mediated labor markets may alter hiring processes.

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Labor Regulations and European Venture Capital

Ant Bozkaya & William Kerr
Harvard Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
European nations substitute between employment protection regulations and labor market expenditures (e.g., unemployment insurance benefits) for providing worker insurance. Employment regulations more directly tax firms making frequent labor adjustments than other labor market insurance mechanisms. Venture capital investors are especially sensitive to these labor adjustment costs. Nations favoring labor market expenditures as the mechanism for providing worker insurance developed stronger venture capital markets over 1990-2008, especially in high volatility sectors. In this context, policy mechanisms are more important than the overall level of worker insurance.

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The Cost of Benefits, Financial Conditions, and Employment Dynamics in Recent U.S. Recoveries

Weishi Grace Gu
University of California Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
This paper explores how much firm-paid employee benefits and firms' financial conditions have contributed to delayed employment recoveries relative to output since 1990, using a DSGE model. Empirically, I document the underexplored pro-cyclicality of per worker benefit costs. Post-1990 period differs from before in that: (1) there have been larger increases of such quasi-fixed employment costs at recoveries; (2) tight financial conditions have also persisted longer into recent recoveries. The model generates 3-to-7-quarter delays in employment recoveries for the post-1990 period but no delay for before, consistent with data; and it produces more than 76 percent of employment volatility.

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Temporary Help Work: Earnings, Wages, and Multiple Job Holding

Sarah Hamersma, Carolyn Heinrich & Peter Mueser
Industrial Relations, January 2014, Pages 72-100

Abstract:
Temporary help services (THS) employment has been growing in size, particularly among disadvantaged workers. An extended policy debate focuses on the low earnings, limited benefits, and insecurity that such jobs appear to provide. We investigate the earnings and wage differentials observed between THS and other jobs in a sample of disadvantaged workers. We find lower quarterly earnings at THS jobs but a $1 per hour wage premium. We reconcile these findings in terms of the shorter duration and lower hours worked at THS jobs. We interpret the premium as a compensating wage differential.

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A longitudinal analysis of the union wage premium for US workers

P. E. Gabriel & S. Schmitz
Applied Economics Letters, Winter 2014, Pages 487-489

Abstract:
Estimates of the union wage premium for US workers are presented based on longitudinal data from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Our results indicate that the long-term private-sector union wage premium for men has remained fairly steady at nearly 22% over the period 1990 to 2010. For women, the wage premium exhibits greater volatility, although no clear downward trend, and is approximately one-half of the male premium.

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Unemployment Insurance Experience Rating and Labor Market Dynamics

David Ratner
Federal Reserve Working Paper, December 2013

Abstract:
Unemployment insurance experience rating imposes higher payroll tax rates on firms that have laid off more workers in the past. To analyze the effects of UI tax policy on labor market dynamics, this paper develops a search model of unemployment with heterogeneous firms and realistic UI financing. The model predicts that higher experience rating reduces both job creation and job destruction. Using firm-level data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, the model is tested by comparing job creation and job destruction across states and industries with different UI tax schedules. The empirical analysis shows a strong negative relationship between job flows and experience rating. Consistent with the empirical results, comparative steady state tax experiments show that a 5% increase in experience rating reduces job flows by an average of 1.4%. While the unemployment rate falls on average by .21 percentage points, the effect on tax revenues is ambiguous. The model has implications for UI financing reform currently being considered at the state and national level. Two alternative reforms that close half of the UI financing gap are considered: the reform that increases experience rating is shown to improve labor market outcomes. In a version of the model with aggregate shocks, higher experience rating dampens the response of layoffs and unemployment over the business cycle. Experience rating also induces nonlinear responses of unemployment to proportionally larger shocks as well as asymmetry in response to booms and busts.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wasted

Cannabis Use and Antisocial Behavior among Youth

Ioana Popovici et al.
Sociological Inquiry, February 2014, Pages 131–162

Abstract:
Despite the numerous efforts to curb substance use and abuse through legislation and interventions, marijuana consumption continues to be a major social problem, particularly among young adults in the United States. We provide new information on the relationship between cannabis use and antisocial behavior by analyzing a sample of young adults (aged 18–20) from the National Epidemiological Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). We examine a broad set of cannabis use patterns and multiple dimensions of antisocial behaviors and test the empirical importance of two prominent criminological theories — general strain and social bond — in explaining associations between cannabis use and antisocial behavior. We include important socioeconomic, demographic, health and health behaviors, and contextual information in all regressions to control for confounding factors. Our results imply that cannabis use is positively and significantly related to antisocial behavior among young adults, and general strain and social bond theories cannot fully explain our findings. As expected, the estimated association with antisocial behavior is stronger for more frequent cannabis users.

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The Effects of Alcohol on the Consumption of Hard Drugs: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, 1997

Monica Deza
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper estimates the effect of alcohol use on consumption of hard drugs using the exogenous decrease in the cost of accessing alcohol that occurs when individuals reach the minimum legal drinking age. By using a regression discontinuity design and the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997, I find that all measures of alcohol consumption, even alcohol initiation increase discontinuously at age 21 years. I also find evidence that consumption of hard drugs decreased by 1.5 to 2 percentage points and the probability of initiating the use of hard drugs decreased by 1 percentage point at the age of 21 years, while the intensity of use among users remained unchanged. These estimates are robust to a variety of specifications and also remain robust across different subsamples.

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Trends in Alcohol and Other Drugs Detected in Fatally Injured Drivers in the United States, 1999–2010

Joanne Brady & Guohua Li
American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drugged driving is a safety issue of increasing public concern. Using data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System for 1999–2010, we assessed trends in alcohol and other drugs detected in drivers who were killed within 1 hour of a motor vehicle crash in 6 US states (California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia) that routinely performed toxicological testing on drivers involved in such crashes. Of the 23,591 drivers studied, 39.7% tested positive for alcohol and 24.8% for other drugs. During the study period, the prevalence of positive results for nonalcohol drugs rose from 16.6% in 1999 to 28.3% in 2010 (Z = −10.19, P < 0.0001), whereas the prevalence of positive results for alcohol remained stable. The most commonly detected nonalcohol drug was cannabinol, the prevalence of which increased from 4.2% in 1999 to 12.2% in 2010 (Z = −13.63, P < 0.0001). The increase in the prevalence of nonalcohol drugs was observed in all age groups and both sexes. These results indicate that nonalcohol drugs, particularly marijuana, are increasingly detected in fatally injured drivers.

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Drugs and Alcohol: Their Relative Crash Risk

Eduardo Romano et al.
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, January 2014, Pages 56-64

Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine (a) whether among sober (blood alcohol concentration [BAC] = .00%) drivers, being drug positive increases the drivers' risk of being killed in a fatal crash; (b) whether among drinking (BAC > .00%) drivers, being drug positive increases the drivers' risk of being killed in a fatal crash; and (c) whether alcohol and other drugs interact in increasing crash risk.

Method: We compared BACs for the 2006, 2007, and 2008 crash cases drawn from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) with control drug and blood alcohol data from participants in the 2007 U.S. National Roadside Survey. Only FARS drivers from states with drug information on 80% or more of the drivers who also participated in the 2007 National Roadside Survey were selected.

Results: For both sober and drinking drivers, being positive for a drug was found to increase the risk of being fatally injured. When the drug-positive variable was separated into marijuana and other drugs, only the latter was found to contribute significantly to crash risk. In all cases, the contribution of drugs other than alcohol to crash risk was significantly lower than that produced by alcohol.

Conclusions: Although overall, drugs contribute to crash risk regardless of the presence of alcohol, such a contribution is much lower than that by alcohol. The lower contribution of drugs other than alcohol to crash risk relative to that of alcohol suggests caution in focusing too much on drugged driving, potentially diverting scarce resources from curbing drunk driving.

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Unemployment, Measured and Perceived Decline of Economic Resources: Contrasting Three Measures of Recessionary Hardships and their Implications for Adopting Negative Health Behaviors

Lucie Kalousova & Sarah Burgard
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
Economic downturns could have long-term impacts on population health if they promote changes in health behaviors, but the evidence for whether people are more or less likely to adopt negative health behaviors in economically challenging times has been mixed. This paper argues that researchers need to draw more careful distinctions amongst different types of recessionary hardships and the mechanisms that may underlie their associations with health behaviors. We focus on unemployment experience, measured decline in economic resources, and perceived decline in economic resources, all of which are likely to occur more often during recessions, and explore whether their associations with health behaviors are consistent or different. We use population-based longitudinal data collected by the Michigan Recession and Recovery Study in the wake of the Great Recession in the United States. We evaluate whether those who had experienced each of these three hardships were more likely to adopt new negative health behaviors, specifically cigarette smoking, harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption, or marijuana consumption. We find that, net of controls and the other two recessionary hardships, unemployment experience was associated with increased hazard of starting marijuana use. Measured decline in economic resources was associated with increased hazard of cigarette smoking and lower hazard of starting marijuana use. Perceived decline in economic resources was linked to taking up harmful and hazardous drinking. Our results suggest heterogeneity in the pathways that connect hardship experiences and different health behaviors. They also indicate that relying on only one measure of hardship, as many past studies have done, could lead to an incomplete understanding of the relationship between economic distress and health behaviors.

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A Sibling-Comparison Study of Smoking During Pregnancy and Childhood Psychological Traits

Jarrod Ellingson et al.
Behavior Genetics, January 2014, Pages 25-35

Abstract:
Prenatal exposure to substances of abuse is associated with numerous psychological problems in offspring, but quasi-experimental studies controlling for co-occurring risk factors suggest that familial factors (e.g., genetic and environmental effects shared among siblings) confound many associations with maternal smoking during pregnancy (SDP). Few of the quasi-experimental studies in this area have explored normative psychological traits in early childhood or developmental changes across the lifespan, however. The current study used multilevel growth curve models with a large, nationally-representative sample in the United States to investigate for potential effects of SDP on the developmental trajectories of cognitive functioning, temperament/personality, and disruptive behavior across childhood, while accounting for shared familial confounds by comparing differentially exposed siblings and statistically controlling for offspring-specific covariates. Maternal SDP predicted the intercept (but not change over time) for all cognitive and externalizing outcomes. Accounting for familial confounds, however, attenuated the association between SDP exposure and all outcomes, except the intercept (age 5) for reading recognition. These findings, which are commensurate with previous quasi-experimental research on more severe indices of adolescent and adult problems, suggest that the associations between SDP and developmental traits in childhood are due primarily to confounding factors and not a causal association.

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Official blame for drivers with very low blood alcohol content: There is no safe combination of drinking and driving

David Phillips, Ana Luiza Sousa & Rebecca Moshfegh
Injury Prevention, forthcoming

Purpose: To determine whether official blame for a crash increases significantly at BAC=0.01%.

Methods: We examined the relationship between the driver’s BAC and the degree to which he or she was assigned sole official blame (SOB) for the crash. We analysed an official, exhaustive, nationwide US database (Fatality Analysis Reporting System; n=570 731), covering 1994–2011.

Results: Even minimally ‘buzzed’ drivers are 46% (24–72%) more likely to be officially blamed for a crash than are the sober drivers they collide with (χ2=20.45; p=0.000006). There is no threshold effect—no sudden transition from blameless to blamed drivers at BAC=0.08% (the US legal limit). Instead, SOB increases smoothly and strongly with BAC (r=0.98 (0.96–0.99) for male drivers, p<0.000001; r=0.99 (0.97–0.99) for female drivers, p<0.000001). This near-linear SOB-to-BAC relationship begins at BAC=0.01% and ends around BAC=0.24%. Our findings persist after controlling for many confounding variables.

Conclusions: There appears to be no safe combination of drinking and driving—even minimally ‘buzzed’ drivers pose increased risk to themselves and to others. Concerns about drunk driving should also be extended to ‘buzzed’ driving. US legislators should reduce the legal BAC limit, perhaps to 0.05%, as in most European countries. Lowering the legal BAC limit is likely to reduce injuries and save lives.

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Breaking the Link Between Legal Access to Alcohol and Motor Vehicle Accidents: Evidence from New South Wales

Jason Lindo, Peter Siminski & Oleg Yerokhin
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
A large literature has documented significant public health benefits associated with the minimum legal drinking age in the United States, particularly because of the resulting effects on motor vehicle accidents. These benefits form the primary basis for continued efforts to restrict youth access to alcohol. It is important to keep in mind, though, that policymakers have a wide variety of alcohol-control options available to them, and understanding how these policies may complement or substitute for one another can improve policy making moving forward. Towards this end, we propose that investigating the causal effects of the minimum legal drinking age in New South Wales, Australia provides a particularly informative case study, because Australian states are among the world leaders in their efforts against drunk driving. Using an age-based regression-discontinuity design applied to restricted-use data from several sources, we find no evidence that legal access to alcohol has effects on motor vehicle accidents of any type in New South Wales, despite having large effects on drinking and on hospitalizations due to alcohol abuse.

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Student Drug Testing and Positive School Climates: Testing the Relation Between Two School Characteristics and Drug Use Behavior in a Longitudinal Study

Sharon Sznitman & Daniel Romer
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, January 2014, Pages 65-73

Objective: Fostering positive school climates and student drug testing have been separately proposed as strategies to reduce student drug use in high schools. To assess the promise of these strategies, the present research examined whether positive school climates and/or student drug testing successfully predicted changes in youth substance use over a 1-year follow-up.

Method: Two waves of panel data from a sample of 361 high school students, assessed 1 year apart, were analyzed. Changes in reported initiation and escalation in frequency of alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use as a function of perceived student drug testing and positive school climates were analyzed, while we held constant prior substance use.

Results: Perceived student drug testing was not associated with changes in substance use, whereas perceived positive school climates were associated with a reduction in cigarette and marijuana initiation and a reduction in escalation of frequency of cigarette use at 1-year follow-up. However, perceived positive school climates were not associated with a reduction in alcohol use.

Conclusions: Student drug testing appears to be less associated with substance use than positive school climates. Nevertheless, even favorable school climates may not be able to influence the use of alcohol, which appears to be quite normative in this age group.

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Time Horizons and Substance Use among African American Youths Living in Disadvantaged Urban Areas

JeeWon Cheong et al.
Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
Transitioning from adolescence to full-fledged adulthood is often challenging, and young people who live in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods face additional obstacles and experience disproportionately higher negative outcomes, including substance abuse and related risk behaviors. This study investigated whether substance use among African Americans ages 15 to 25 (M = 18.86 years) living in such areas was related to present-dominated time perspectives and higher delay discounting. Participants (N = 344, 110 males, 234 females) living in Deep South disadvantaged urban neighborhoods were recruited using Respondent Driven Sampling, an improved peer-referral sampling method suitable for accessing this hard-to-reach target group. Structured field interviews assessed alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use and risk/protective factors, including time perspectives (Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory [ZTPI]) and behavioral impulsivity (delay discounting task). As predicted, substance use was positively related to a greater ZPTI orientation toward present pleasure and a lower tendency to plan and achieve future goals. Although the sample as a whole showed high discounting of delayed rewards, discount rates did not predict substance use. The findings suggest that interventions to lengthen time perspectives and promote enriched views of future possible selves may prevent and reduce substance use among disadvantaged youths. Discontinuities among the discounting and time perspective variables in relation to substance use merit further investigation.

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Alcohol Consumption and Political Ideology: What's Party Got to Do with It?

Pavel Yakovlev & Walter Guessford
Journal of Wine Economics, December 2013, Pages 335-354

Abstract:
Recent research in psychology and sociology has established a connection between political beliefs and unhealthy behaviors such as excessive alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug consumption. In this study, we estimate the relationship between political ideology and the demand for beer, wine, and spirits using a longitudinal panel of fifty U.S. states from 1952 to 2010. Controlling for various socioeconomic factors and unobserved heterogeneity, we find that when a state becomes more liberal politically, its consumption of beer and spirits rises, while its consumption of wine may fall. Our findings suggest that political beliefs are correlated with the demand for alcohol.

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The Influence of Discrimination on Smoking Cessation among Latinos

Darla Kendzor et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Although studies have shown a cross-sectional link between discrimination and smoking, the prospective influence of discrimination on smoking cessation has yet to be evaluated. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to determine the influence of everyday and major discrimination on smoking cessation among Latinos making a quit attempt.

Methods: Participants were 190 Spanish speaking smokers of Mexican Heritage recruited from the Houston, TX metropolitan area who participated in the study between 2009 and 2012. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to evaluate the associations of everyday and major discrimination with smoking abstinence at 26 weeks post-quit.

Results: Most participants reported at least some everyday discrimination (64.4%), and at least one major discrimination event (56%) in their lifetimes. Race/ethnicity/nationality was the most commonly perceived reason for both everyday and major discrimination. Everyday discrimination was not associated with post-quit smoking status. However, experiencing a greater number of major discrimination events was associated with a reduced likelihood of achieving 7-day point prevalence smoking abstinence, OR = .51, p = .004, and continuous smoking abstinence, OR = .29, p = .018, at 26 weeks post-quit.

Conclusions: Findings highlight the high frequency of exposure to discrimination among Latinos, and demonstrate the negative impact of major discrimination events on a smoking cessation attempt. Efforts are needed to attenuate the detrimental effects of major discrimination events on smoking cessation outcomes.

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Alcohol Exposure In Utero and Child Academic Achievement

Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2014

Abstract:
We examine the effect of alcohol exposure in utero on child academic achievement. As well as studying the effect of any alcohol exposure, we investigate the effect of the dose, pattern, and duration of exposure. We use a genetic variant in the maternal alcohol-metabolism gene ADH1B as an instrument for alcohol exposure, whilst controlling for the child’s genotype on the same variant. We show that the instrument is unrelated to an extensive range of maternal and paternal characteristics and behaviours. OLS regressions suggest an ambiguous association between alcohol exposure in utero and children’s academic attainment, but there is a strong social gradient in maternal drinking, with mothers in higher socio-economic groups more likely to drink. In stark contrast to the OLS, the IV estimates show negative effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on child educational attainment. These results are very robust to an extensive set of model specifications. In addition, we show that that the effects are solely driven by the maternal genotype, with no impact of the child’s genotype.

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Does legislation to prevent alcohol sales to drunk individuals work? Measuring the propensity for night-time sales to drunks in a UK city

Karen Hughes et al.
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: By measuring alcohol retailers’ propensity to illegally sell alcohol to young people who appear highly intoxicated, we examine whether UK legislation is effective at preventing health harms resulting from drunk individuals continuing to access alcohol.

Methods: 73 randomly selected pubs, bars and nightclubs in a city in North West England were subjected to an alcohol purchase test by pseudo-drunk actors. Observers recorded venue characteristics to identify poorly managed and problematic (PMP) bars.

Results: 83.6% of purchase attempts resulted in a sale of alcohol to a pseudo-intoxicated actor. Alcohol sales increased with the number of PMP markers bars had, yet even in those with no markers, 66.7% of purchase attempts resulted in a sale. Bar servers often recognised signs of drunkenness in actors, but still served them. In 18% of alcohol sales, servers attempted to up-sell by suggesting actors purchase double rather than single vodkas.

Conclusions: UK law preventing sales of alcohol to drunks is routinely broken in nightlife environments, yet prosecutions are rare. Nightlife drunkenness places enormous burdens on health and health services. Preventing alcohol sales to drunks should be a public health priority, while policy failures on issues, such as alcohol pricing, are revisited.

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Evidence of underage targeting of alcohol advertising on television in the United States: Lessons from the Lockyer v. Reynolds decisions

Craig Ross, Joshua Ostroff & David Jernigan
Journal of Public Health Policy, February 2014, Pages 105–118

Abstract:
Underage alcohol use is a global public health problem and alcohol advertising has been associated with underage drinking. The alcohol industry regulates itself and is the primary control on alcohol advertising in many countries around the world, advising trade association members to advertise only in adult-oriented media. Despite high levels of compliance with these self-regulatory guidelines, in several countries youth exposure to alcohol advertising on television has grown faster than adult exposure. In the United States, we found that exposure for underage viewers ages 18–20 grew from 2005 through 2011 faster than any adult age group. Applying a method adopted from a court in the US to identify underage targeting of advertising, we found evidence of targeting of alcohol advertising to underage viewers ages 18–20. The court's rule appeared in Lockyer v. Reynolds (The People ex rel. Bill Lockyer v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, GIC764118, 2002). We demonstrated that alcohol companies were able to modify their advertising practices to maintain current levels of adult advertising exposure while reducing youth exposure.

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Avoidance of Cigarette Pack Health Warnings among Regular Cigarette Smokers

Olivia Maynard et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, forthcoming

Background: Previous research with adults and adolescents indicates that plain cigarette packs increase visual attention to health warnings among non-smokers and non-regular smokers, but not among regular smokers. This may be because regular smokers: 1) are familiar with the health warnings, 2) preferentially attend to branding, or 3) actively avoid health warnings. We sought to distinguish between these explanations using eye-tracking technology.

Method: A convenience sample of 30 adult dependent smokers participated in an eye-tracking study. Participants viewed branded, plain and blank packs of cigarettes with familiar and unfamiliar health warnings. The number of fixations to health warnings and branding on the different pack types were recorded.

Results: Analysis of variance indicated that regular smokers were biased towards fixating the branding rather than the health warning on all three pack types. This bias was smaller, but still evident, for blank packs, where smokers preferentially attended the blank region over the health warnings. Time-course analysis showed that for branded and plain packs, attention was preferentially directed to the branding location for the entire 10 seconds of the stimulus presentation, while for blank packs this occurred for the last 8 seconds of the stimulus presentation. Familiarity with health warnings had no effect on eye gaze location.

Conclusion: Smokers actively avoid cigarette pack health warnings, and this remains the case even in the absence of salient branding information. Smokers may have learned to divert their attention away from cigarette pack health warnings. These findings have implications for cigarette packaging and health warning policy.

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Parent–Child Drug Communication: Pathway From Parents' Ad Exposure to Youth's Marijuana Use Intention

Thipnapa Huansuriya, Jason Siegel & William Crano
Journal of Health Communication, forthcoming

Abstract:
The authors combined the 2-step flow of communication model and the theory of planned behavior to create a framework to evaluate the effectiveness of a set of advertisements from the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign promoting parent–child drug communication. The sample consisted of 1,349 pairs of parents and children who responded to the first and second annual rounds of the National Survey of Parents and Youth, and 1,276 pairs from Rounds 3 and 4. Parents' exposure to the campaign reported at Round 1 was indirectly associated with youth's lowered intentions to use marijuana at Round 2. Ad exposure was associated with positive changes in parental attitudes toward drug communication and perceived social approval of antidrug communications. These two beliefs, along with perceived behavioral control, predicted parents' intentions to discuss drugs with their children. Parental intentions to discuss drugs reported at Round 1 were associated with youth's report of actual drug communication with their parents at Round 2. Frequency and breadth of the topics in parent–child drug communication were associated with less positive attitudes toward marijuana use among youth who spoke with their parents. Together, the child's attitudes toward marijuana use and perceived ability to refuse marijuana use predicted youth's intentions to use marijuana. The proposed model fit well with the data and was replicated in a parallel analysis of the data from Rounds 3 and 4. Implications for future antidrug media campaign efforts are discussed.

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Pregnenolone Can Protect the Brain from Cannabis Intoxication

Monique Vallée et al.
Science, 3 January 2014, Pages 94-98

Abstract:
Pregnenolone is considered the inactive precursor of all steroid hormones, and its potential functional effects have been largely uninvestigated. The administration of the main active principle of Cannabis sativa (marijuana), ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), substantially increases the synthesis of pregnenolone in the brain via activation of the type-1 cannabinoid (CB1) receptor. Pregnenolone then, acting as a signaling-specific inhibitor of the CB1 receptor, reduces several effects of THC. This negative feedback mediated by pregnenolone reveals a previously unknown paracrine/autocrine loop protecting the brain from CB1 receptor overactivation that could open an unforeseen approach for the treatment of cannabis intoxication and addiction.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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