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Friday, August 15, 2014

Due process

Racial Disparity in Federal Criminal Sentences

Marit Rehavi & Sonja Starr
Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using rich data linking federal cases from arrest through to sentencing, we find that initial case and defendant characteristics, including arrest offense and criminal history, can explain most, but not all, of the large raw racial disparity in federal sentences. Across the sentence distribution, blacks receive sentences that are almost 10% longer than comparable whites arrested for the same crimes. Most of this disparity can be explained by prosecutors' initial charging decisions, particularly the filing of charges carrying mandatory minimum sentences. Ceteris paribus, the odds of black arrestees facing such a charge are 1.75 times higher than those of white arrestees.

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The Chief Justice as Executive: Judicial Conference Committee Appointments

Dawn Chutkow
Journal of Law and Courts, Fall 2014, Pages 301-325

Abstract:
This article is the first comprehensive empirical study of chief justice appointments to the Judicial Conference committees of the US Courts, entities with influence over substantive public and legal policy. Using a newly created database of all judges appointed to serve on Judicial Conference committees between 1986 and 2012, the results indicate that a judge's partisan alignment with the chief justice matters, as do personal characteristics such as race, experience on the bench, and court level. These results support claims that Judicial Conference committee selection, membership, and participation may present a vehicle for advancing the chief justice's individual political and policy interests.

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An Empirical Evaluation of the Connecticut Death Penalty System Since 1973: Are There Unlawful Racial, Gender, and Geographic Disparities?

John Donohue
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article analyzes the 205 death-eligible murders leading to homicide convictions in Connecticut from 1973-2007 to determine if discriminatory and arbitrary factors influenced capital outcomes. A regression analysis controlling for an array of legitimate factors relevant to the crime, defendant, and victim provides overwhelming evidence that minority defendants who kill white victims are capitally charged at substantially higher rates than minority defendants who kill minorities, that geography influences both capital charging and sentencing decisions (with the location of a crime in Waterbury being the single most potent influence on which death-eligible cases will lead to a sentence of death), and that the Connecticut death penalty system has not limited its application to the worst of the worst death-eligible defendants. The work of an expert hired by the State of Connecticut provided emphatic, independent confirmation of these three findings, and found that women who commit death-eligible crimes are less likely than men to be sentenced to death. There is also strong and statistically significant evidence that minority defendants who kill whites are more likely to end up with capital sentences than comparable cases with white defendants. Regression estimates of the effect of both race and geography on death sentencing reveal the disparities can be glaring. Considering the most common type of death-eligible murder - a multiple victim homicide - a white on white murder of average egregiousness outside Waterbury has a .57 percent chance of being sentenced to death, while a minority committing the identical crime on white victims in Waterbury would face a 91.2 percent likelihood. In other words, the minority defendant in Waterbury would be 160 times more likely to get a sustained death sentence than the comparable white defendant in the rest of the state. Among the nine Connecticut defendants to receive sustained death sentences over the study period, only Michael Ross comports with the dictates that "within the category of capital crimes, the death penalty must be reserved for 'the worst of the worst.'" For the eight defendants on death row (after the 2005 execution of Ross), the median number of equally or more egregious death-eligible cases that did not receive death sentences is between 35 and 46 (depending on the egregiousness measure). In light of the prospective abolition of the Connecticut death penalty in April 2012, which eliminated the deterrence rationale for the death penalty, Atkins v. Virginia teaches that unless the Connecticut death penalty regime "measurably contributes to [the goal of retribution], it is nothing more than the purposeless and needless imposition of pain and suffering, and hence an unconstitutional punishment." Apart from Ross, the evidence suggests that the eight others residing on death row were not measurably more culpable than the many who were not capitally sentenced. Moreover, Connecticut imposed sustained death sentences at a rate of 4.4 percent (9 of 205). This rate of death sentencing is among the lowest in the nation and more than two-thirds lower than the 15 percent pre-Furman Georgia rate that was deemed constitutionally problematic in that "freakishly rare" sentences of death are likely to be arbitrary.

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Influence of Race and Ethnicity on Charge Severity in Chicago Homicide Cases: An Investigation of Prosecutorial Discretion

Christine Martin
Race and Justice, April 2014, Pages 152-174

Abstract:
This research examines prosecutorial decision making at the initial charging stage in Chicago homicide cases during the late 1990s. The objectives of this investigation are to determine whether African Americans were prosecuted more severely than similarly situated White and Latino defendants in Chicago homicide cases prior to the abolition of the death penalty in Illinois and to identify the factors that affected how severely prosecutors prosecuted defendants during that time. The study participants are adults who were identified by the Chicago Police Department as suspects in homicide incidents during the years of 1994 and 1995 and whose cases were selected for prosecution. Other relevant factors that may have influenced charging decisions include the defendant-victim relationship, the homicide circumstances, and the number of victims in a particular homicide incident. General linear regression modeling is used to determine the factors that affected how severely prosecutors prosecuted Chicago homicide defendants. Charge severity is measured by the number of charges of Class M felony murder that were filed against a defendant. The results indicate that prior to the moratorium on the death penalty in Chicago, all defendants studied (regardless of the race/ethnicity of their victims) were charged with fewer counts of murder (prosecuted less severely) than African American defendants who were charged with killing White victims. This direct and significant relationship persists even after adding defendant-victim relationship and homicide circumstance interaction terms to the analysis.

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The intersection of race and gender: An examination of sentencing outcomes in North Carolina

Katrina Rebecca Bloch, Rodney Engen & Kylie Parrotta
Criminal Justice Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examines the intersection of offenders' race and gender in the sentencing process using data on felony cases sentenced in North Carolina. Analyses examine the likelihood that charges were reduced in severity between initial filing and conviction, the likelihood of imprisonment, and the length of sentence imposed, and test whether race affects punishment similarly for men and women. Results indicate that status characteristics predict both reductions in charge severity and the severity of the final sentence, and that racial disparity is conditional on gender. However, the results are not entirely consistent with predictions derived from the extant literature. Gender significantly predicts case outcomes at each stage, but black men were not uniformly disadvantaged, and black women received the least severe treatment in two out of four analyses. Theoretical implications for the intersection of race and gender in sentencing theories are discussed.

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The Difference "Hate" Makes in Clearing Crime: An Event History Analysis of Incident Factors

Christopher Lyons & Aki Roberts
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, August 2014, Pages 268-289

Abstract:
Studying hate crime clearance rates provides an opportunity to uncover the factors that influence police effectiveness for a relatively new legal category - one that was designed ostensibly to protect minorities, and that may pose unique challenges for police reporting, defining, and investigation. Using multiple years (2005-2010) of data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), we estimate event history models to compare the incident-level predictors and relative probability of arrest for hate and nonbias crimes. As an aggregate category, we find hate crimes are less likely to clear than nonbias crimes. However, the most prototypical hate crimes - White-on-non-White incidents motivated by racial and ethnic bias - are as likely to clear as the most successfully cleared nonbias crimes. Our results suggest that only hate crimes that fit popular constructions of "normal victims and offenders" receive investigative outcomes comparable with otherwise similar nonbias offenses.

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Judicial Bond-Setting Behavior: The Perceived Nature of the Crime May Matter More Than How Serious It Is

Robert Beattey, Taiki Matsuura & Elizabeth Jeglic
Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
Whether a criminal defendant will be released on bail or held in jail pretrial is one of the first decisions made in a criminal prosecution. This study examined whether a certain group of defendants is subject to the setting of higher bonds by virtue of the subjectively perceived nature of the offense with which the defendants are charged. We specifically tested whether, despite lower overall rearrest rates, judges are imposing higher bonds on defendants charged with a sex offense than on defendants charged with a nonsex offense of equal statutory offense level. Results showed a statistically significant difference in the bond rates between sex offenders and nonsex offenders, with the mean sex offense bond being set approximately $30,000 higher than the mean nonsex offense bond, despite controlling for level of offense, sex of the defendant, and judge setting the bond amount. Given the high costs of pretrial detention to both the defendant and the state, the utility of empirically based bond setting is discussed.

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An Investigation of Implied Miranda Waivers and Powell Wording in a Mock-Crime Study

Nathan Gillard et al.
Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
To guard against coerced self-incrimination, the Supreme Court of the United States outlined in Miranda v. Arizona (1966) what arresting officers must convey to custodial suspects for resulting statements to be admissible into evidence. During the ensuing decades, the Court has continued to grapple with the requisite wording and practical enforcement of these Constitutional rights. In Florida v. Powell (2010), the Court upheld the conviction of a defendant whose Miranda warning affirmed that before questioning he had the right to an attorney, but failed to specify that during questioning he had this right as well. In Berghuis v. Thompkins (2010), the Court ruled that the right to silence must be invoked explicitly, while valid Miranda waivers could be "implied" by a suspect's actions as well as words. The current study employed a mock crime design to assess the practical effects of these 2 rulings on waiver decisions. The wording change enabled by Powell had little effect on Miranda knowledge and reasoning. With regard to Thompkins, the type of waiver profoundly affected subsequent decisions: 13.7% exercised their rights following implied waivers versus 81.1% with explicit waivers. Importantly, the implied waiver condition produced much higher percentages of confessions (17.6% vs. 3.8%) and of admissions about incriminating information (29.4% vs. 9.4%).

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Squealer Dealers: The Market for Information in Federal Drug Trafficking Prosecutions

Andrew Nutting
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Federal data on drug trafficking sentences are used to determine factors that affect market quantities of providing information against other defendants (i.e., defendant probabilities of receiving testimony-related sentence reductions) and market prices of information (i.e., the sizes of such sentence reductions). Women and better-educated defendants experience high demand (higher quantities and prices) for information. Blacks, Hispanics, and non-U.S. citizens experience low demand. Defendants expecting longer sentences have higher supply of information. Conditional on expected sentence, crack dealers, high-level dealers, and dealers with long criminal histories experience low demand, while low-level dealers experience high demand. Women of all races experience high demand for information.

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Lawyer and Nonlawyer Susceptibility to Framing Effects in Out-of-Court Civil Litigation Settlement

Ian Belton, Mary Thomson & Mandeep Dhami
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, September 2014, Pages 578-600

Abstract:
Settling a legal dispute out of court is typically a good result for both parties. However, many disputes do not settle: the presence of cognitive biases, such as those observed through framing manipulations, is thought to be one of the many reasons for settlement failure. The present study used quantitative and qualitative data to compare the impact of a gain- or loss-framed hypothetical civil litigation scenario on settlement decisions made by lawyers and other nonlawyer professionals. A significant effect of framing was found for both groups. As predicted, both nonlawyers and lawyers were much more likely to settle their claim in the gain scenario than in the loss scenario. This finding was supported by the qualitative data: risk-averse comments were more frequent in the gain frame whereas risk-seeking statements were more common in the loss frame. There was also evidence that lawyers may be less affected by framing than nonlawyers, although a smaller difference was observed than in previous studies. In addition, lawyers were more likely than nonlawyers to consider the expected financial value of the litigation in making their decision. We discuss the implications of these results and suggest avenues for future research.

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Examining Pretrial Publicity in a Shadow Jury Paradigm: Issues of Slant, Quantity, Persistence and Generalizability

Tarika Daftary-Kapur et al.
Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of pretrial publicity (PTP) on mock juror decision making. Specifically, we examined the influence of quantity and slant of the PTP (proprosecution vs. prodefense), the persistence of PTP effects over time, and whether the PTP effects demonstrated in research laboratories would also occur in more naturalistic settings (generalizability). Using a shadow jury paradigm we examined these effects using a real trial as stimulus. Mock jurors included 115 jury-eligible community members who were naturally exposed to PTP in the venue in which the actual case occurred and 156 who were experimentally exposed. We found mock jurors were significantly influenced by both the slant and quantity of the PTP to which they were exposed, such that those exposed to proprosecution or prodefense PTP tended to render decision in support of the party favored in the PTP, and those exposed to greater quantities of PTP tended to be more biased. Additionally, PTP effects persisted throughout the course of the trial and continued to influence judgments in face of trial evidence and arguments. A finding of no significant difference in the effect of exposure slant between the naturally exposed and experimentally exposed samples provides support for the external validity of laboratory studies examining PTP effects. This research helps address some of the concerns raised by courts with regard to the durability of PTP effects and the application of laboratory findings to real world settings.

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"Midnight Confessions": The Effect of Chronotype Asynchrony on Admissions of Wrongdoing

Kyle Scherr et al.
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, July/August 2014, Pages 321-328

Abstract:
Confession evidence is highly incriminating in court. We examined the interaction between chronotype and time of day on the confession decisions of 60 participants using an experimental paradigm. Pre-identified morning- and evening-type people were randomly assigned to participate in morning or evening sessions. Results supported an interactional asynchrony hypothesis that individuals are more likely to confess during "off-peak" periods (i.e., evening-types in the morning and morning-types in the evening). This interaction was obtained for both high- and low-seriousness transgressions. These results suggest that chronotype asynchrony constitutes a significant risk factor for false confessions and the wrongful convictions that often follow.

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Birds of a feather get misidentified together: High entitativity decreases recognition accuracy for groups of other-race faces

Mollie McGuire & Kathy Pezdek
Legal and Criminological Psychology, forthcoming

Purpose: The cross-race effect can be exaggerated when faces are presented in groups, leading to less accurate eyewitness identifications (Pezdek, O'Brien, & Wasson, 2012, Law Hum. Behav., 36, 488). Our current study examined the effect of entitativity, the degree to which members of a group are perceived as a coherent unit (Campbell, 1958, Behav. Sci., 3, 14), on recognition accuracy for same- and cross-race faces presented in groups.

Methods: White participants viewed 16 slides of 3-face groups (eight White groups, eight Black groups). Prior to viewing the faces they were told that the entitativity of each 3-face group was high ('friends who do things together') or low ('people in line at the bank'). They were then tested on 32 individually presented faces (16 old and 16 new).

Results: When cross-race faces were presented in high rather than low entitativity groups, less accurate face recognition memory resulted. Increasing group entitativity decreased recognition accuracy for cross-race faces but increased recognition accuracy for same-race faces.

Conclusions: The results suggest that the perception of a group negatively impacts eyewitness memory. Contextual factors such as entitativity need to be considered along with other estimator variables when assessing eyewitness identification accuracy.

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On Courts and Pocketbooks: Macroeconomic Judicial Behavior across Methods of Judicial Selection

Douglas Rice
Journal of Law and Courts, Fall 2014, Pages 327-347

Abstract:
Scholars studying judicial behavior have identified a host of factors theoretically and empirically connected to judicial decision making. One recent theory identifies economic conditions - which have implications for the decisions of voters and politicians - as influencing the voting behavior of US Supreme Court justices. Yet the US Supreme Court is a unique judicial institution addressing limited - though indisputably important - economic cases every year. State courts, on the other hand, address a multitude of issues every year with economic ramifications. Building on the rich body of literature examining state courts of last resort, I analyze whether judges, across a variety of methods for judicial selection and retention, respond to temporary changes in the state of the economy. Results indicate that the responses of state supreme court judges to changes in the state of the economy are conditional on the electoral vulnerability of the justice. This research thus offers considerable insight into judicial behavior under different selection mechanisms and the conditional influence of the state of the economy.

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Hypothesis Testing in Attorney-Conducted Voir Dire

Caroline Crocker Otis et al.
Law and Human Behavior, August 2014, Pages 392-404

Abstract:
Attorneys may hold expectations about jurors based on stereotypes about the relationships between demographic characteristics and attitudes. Attorneys test their hypotheses about prospective jurors during voir dire, but it is unclear whether their questioning strategies are likely to produce accurate information from jurors. In 2 studies, attorneys and law students formulated voir dire questions to test a particular hypothesis about the attitudes held by a prospective juror (venireperson) and provided their subsequent inferences about that individual given certain hypothetical responses to the questions. Bayes's theorem was used to compare attorneys' actual conclusions about the venireperson with the conclusions they would reach if correctly using the available information. Attorneys' conclusions were biased by the questions they asked, and in some cases, by the hypothesis that they were asked to test. Compared with normative models derived using Bayes' theorem, attorneys overrelied on venirepersons' responses when drawing conclusions about their attitudes. These findings suggest that even if traditional attorney-conducted voir dire elicited accurate information about prospective jurors' attitudes, attorneys may not use that information to draw normatively accurate conclusions about the attitudes that they hold.

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Knowledge and Death Penalty Opinion: The Marshall Hypotheses Revisited

Gavin Lee, Robert Bohm & Lynn Pazzani
American Journal of Criminal Justice, September 2014, Pages 642-659

Abstract:
This study tests the three hypotheses derived from the written opinion of Justice Thurgood Marshall in Furman v Georgia in 1972. Subjects completed questionnaires at the beginning and the end of the fall a semester. Experimental group subjects were enrolled in a death penalty class, while control group subjects were enrolled in another criminal justice class. The death penalty class was the experimental stimulus. Findings provided strong support for the first and third hypotheses, i.e., subjects were generally lacking in death penalty knowledge before the experimental stimulus, and death penalty proponents who scored "high" on a retribution index did not change their death penalty opinions despite exposure to death penalty knowledge. Marshall's second hypothesis--that death penalty knowledge and death penalty support were inversely related--was not supported by the data. Two unexpected findings were that death penalty proponents who scored "low" on a retribution index also did not change their death penalty opinions after becoming more informed about the subject, and that death penalty knowledge did not alter subjects' initial retributive positions. Suggestions for future research are provided.

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High stakes lies: Police and non-police accuracy in detecting deception

Clea Wright Whelan, Graham Wagstaff & Jacqueline Wheatcroft
Psychology, Crime & Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
To date, the majority of investigations into accuracy in detecting deception has used low-stakes lies as stimulus materials, and findings from these studies suggest that people are generally poor at detecting deception. The research presented here utilised real-life, high-stakes lies as stimulus materials, to investigate the accuracy of police and non-police observers in detecting deception. It was hypothesised that both police and non-police observers would achieve above chance levels of accuracy in detecting deception, that police officers would be more accurate at detecting deception than non-police observers, that confidence in veracity judgements would be positively related to accuracy and that consensus judgements would predict veracity. One hundred and seven observers (70 police officers and 37 non-police participants) watched 36 videos of people lying or telling the truth in an extremely high-stakes, real-life situation. Police observers achieved mean accuracy in detecting deception of 72%, non-police observers achieved 68% mean accuracy, and confidence in veracity judgements was positively related to accuracy. Consensus judgements correctly predicted veracity in 92% of cases.

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Parsing Disciplinary Disproportionality: Contributions of Infraction, Student, and School Characteristics to Out-of-School Suspension and Expulsion

Russell Skiba et al.
American Educational Research Journal, August 2014, Pages 640-670

Abstract:
In the context of a national conversation about exclusionary discipline, we conducted a multilevel examination of the relative contributions of infraction, student, and school characteristics to rates of and racial disparities in out-of-school suspension and expulsion. Type of infraction; race, gender, and to a certain extent socioeconomic status at the individual level; and, at the school level, mean school achievement, percentage Black enrollment, and principal perspectives all contributed to the probability of out-of-school suspension or expulsion. For racial disparities, however, school-level variables, including principal perspectives on discipline, appear to be among the strongest predictors. Such a pattern suggests that schools and districts looking to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in discipline would do well to focus on school- and classroom-based interventions.

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Legislating Incentives for Attorney Representation in Civil Rights Litigation

Sean Farhang & Douglas Spencer
Journal of Law and Courts, Fall 2014, Pages 241-271

Abstract:
Congress routinely relies on private lawsuits to enforce its mandates. In this article, we investigate whether, when it does so, the details of the legislation can importantly influence the extent to which the private bar is mobilized to carry out the prosecutorial function. Using an original and novel data set based on review of archived litigation documents for cases filed in the Northern and Eastern Districts of California over the two decades spanning 1981-2000, we examine the effects of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which increased economic damages available to Title VII job discrimination plaintiffs, on their ability to secure counsel. We find that over the course of the decade after passage, the law substantially increased the probability that Title VII plaintiffs would be represented by counsel and that in doing so it reversed a decade-long trend in the opposite direction.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ups and downs

Is there a cannabis epidemic model? Evidence from France, Germany and USA

Stephane Legleye et al.
International Journal of Drug Policy, forthcoming

Background: Cannabis is the most popular illicit drug in the world, but the process of its diffusion through the population has rarely been studied. The unfolding of the tobacco epidemic was accompanied by a shift in the educational gradient of users across generations. As a consequence, cannabis may show the same pattern of widening social inequalities. We test the diffusion hypotheses that a positive value in older cohorts – the more educated experimenting more – shifts to a negative one in younger cohorts – the more educated experimenting less, first for males and then females.

Methods: Three nationwide subsamples (18-64 years old) of representative surveys conducted in France (n = 21,818), Germany (n = 7,887) and USA (n = 37,115) in 2009-2010 recorded age at cannabis experimentation (i.e., first use), educational level, gender, and age. Cumulative prevalence of experimentation was plotted for three retrospective cohorts (50-64, 35-49, 18-34 years old at data collection) and multivariate time-discrete logistic regression was computed by gender and generation to model age at experimentation adjusted on age at data collection and educational level. This latter was measured according to four categories derived from the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) and a relative (rather than absolute) index of education.

Results: The findings demonstrate a consistent pattern of evolution of the prevalence, gender ratio and educational gradient across generations and countries that supports the hypothesis of an “epidemic” of cannabis experimentation that mimics the epidemic of tobacco.

Conclusion: We provide evidence for a cannabis epidemic model similar to the tobacco epidemic model. In the absence of clues regarding the future of cannabis use, our findings demonstrate that the gender gap is decreasing and, based on the epidemic model, suggest that we may expect widening social inequalities in cannabis experimentation if cannabis use decreases in the future.

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The Effects of Medical Marijuana Laws on Illegal Marijuana Use

Yu-Wei Luke Chu
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
More and more states have passed laws that allow individuals to use marijuana for medical purposes. There is an ongoing, heated policy debate over whether these laws have increased marijuana use among non-patients. In this paper, I address that question empirically by studying marijuana possession arrests in cities from 1988 to 2008. I estimate fixed effects models with city-specific time trends that can condition on unobserved heterogeneities across cities in both their levels and trends. I find that these laws increase marijuana arrests among adult males by about 15–20%. These results are further validated by findings from data on treatment admissions to rehabilitation facilities: marijuana treatments among adult males increased by 10–20% after the passage of medical marijuana laws.

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Medical Marijuana Laws and Teen Marijuana Use

Mark Anderson, Benjamin Hansen & Daniel Rees
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
While at least a dozen state legislatures in the United States have recently considered bills to allow the consumption of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the federal government is intensifying its efforts to close medical marijuana dispensaries. Federal officials contend that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages teenagers to use marijuana and have targeted dispensaries operating within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and playgrounds. Using data from the national and state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 and the Treatment Episode Data Set, we estimate the relationship between medical marijuana laws and marijuana use. Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that legalization leads to increased use of marijuana by teenagers.

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Crime and the Depenalization of Cannabis Possession: Evidence from a Policing Experiment

Imran Rasul, Jerome Adda & Brendon McConnell
Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Abstract:
We evaluate the impact on crime of a localized policing experiment that depenalized the possession of small quantities of cannabis in the London borough of Lambeth. We find that depenalization policy caused the police to reallocate effort towards non-drug crime. Despite the overall fall in crime attributable to the policy, we find the total welfare of local residents likely fell, as measured by house prices. We shed light on what would be the impacts on crime of a citywide depenalization policy, by developing and calibrating a structural model of the market for cannabis and crime.

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The Next Generation of Users: Prevalence and Longitudinal Patterns of Tobacco Use Among US Young Adults

Amanda Richardson et al.
American Journal of Public Health, August 2014, Pages 1429-1436

Objectives: We monitored the prevalence and patterns of use of the array of tobacco products available to young adults, who are at risk for initiation and progression to established tobacco use.

Methods: We used data from waves 1 to 3 of GfK’s KnowledgePanel (2011–2012), a nationally representative cohort of young adults aged 18 to 34 years (n = 2144). We examined prevalence and patterns of tobacco product use over time, associated demographics, and state-level tobacco policy. We used multivariable logistic regression to determine predictors of initiation of cigarettes as well as noncombustible and other combustible products.

Results: The prevalence of ever tobacco use rose from 57.28% at wave 1 to 67.43% at wave 3. Use of multiple products was the most common pattern (66.39% of tobacco users by wave 3). Predictors of initiation differed by product type and included age, race/ethnicity, policy, and use of other tobacco products.

Conclusions: Tobacco use is high among young adults and many are using multiple products. Efforts to implement policy and educate young adults about the risks associated with new and emerging products are critical to prevent increased initiation of tobacco use.

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Probing the Smoking–Suicide Association: Do Smoking Policy Interventions Affect Suicide Risk?

Richard Grucza et al.
Nicotine & Tobacco Research, forthcoming

Introduction: Smokers exhibit elevated risk for suicide, but it is unknown whether smoking interventions reduce suicide risk. We examined whether state-level policy interventions—increases in cigarette excise taxes and strengthening of smoke-free air laws—corresponded to reduction in suicide risk during the 1990s and early 2000s. We also examined whether the magnitude of such reductions correlated with individuals’ predicted probability of smoking, as would be expected if the associations stemmed from changes in smoking behavior.

Methods: We paired individual-level data on suicide deaths from the U.S. Multiple Cause of Death files, years 1990–2004, with living population data from the same period. These were linked with state data on cigarette excise taxes and smoke-free air policies. Utilizing a quasi-experimental analytical approach, we estimated the association between changes in policy and suicide risk. To examine whether associations correlated with individuals’ probability of smoking, we used external survey data to derive a predicted probability of smoking function from demographic variables, which was then used to stratify the population by predicted smoking prevalence.

Results: Cigarette excise taxes, smoke-free air policies, and an index combining the two policies all exhibited protective associations with suicide. The associations were strongest in segments of the population where predicted smoking prevalence was the highest and weaker in segments of the population where predicted smoking prevalence was the lowest, suggesting that the protective associations were related to changes in smoking behavior.

Conclusion: These results provide support for the proposition that population interventions for smoking could reduce risk for suicide.

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Cannabis-Related Impairment: The Impacts of Social Anxiety and Misconceptions of Friends’ Cannabis-Related Problems

Anthony Ecker, Ashley Richter & Julia Buckner
Addictive Behaviors, December 2014, Pages 1746–1749

Objective: Socially anxious cannabis users are especially vulnerable to cannabis-related impairment, yet mechanisms underlying this vulnerability remain unclear. Socially anxious persons may use cannabis despite related problems if they believe such problems are common, and thus socially acceptable. Yet no known studies have examined the impact of beliefs regarding others’ cannabis-related problems on one’s own use-related problems.

Method: This study investigated the impact of beliefs about a close friend’s experience with cannabis-related problems on the relationship between social anxiety and cannabis-related problems. The sample consisted of 158 (75% female) current (past-month) cannabis-using undergraduates.

Results: Believing one’s friend experienced more cannabis problems was related to experiencing more cannabis-related problems oneself. In fact, perceived friend’s problems accounted for 40% of the unique variance in one’s own cannabis problems. Descriptive norms (others’ use) and injunctive norms (others’ approval of risky use) were unrelated to number of one’s own problems. Social anxiety was related to experiencing more cannabis problems. This relation was moderated by perceived friend’s problems such that greater social anxiety was related to more cannabis-related problems among participants who believed their friend experienced more cannabis-related problems. This was not the case among participants who believed their friend experienced fewer problems.

Conclusions: Normative beliefs regarding a close friend’s cannabis problems were robustly and uniquely related to experiencing more cannabis-related impairment. Beliefs regarding friends’ experience with cannabis-related problems may play an especially important role in the experience of cannabis-related problems among socially anxious users.

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Electronic Cigarettes and Conventional Cigarette Use Among US Adolescents: A Cross-sectional Study

Lauren Dutra & Stanton Glantz
JAMA Pediatrics, July 2014, Pages 610-617

Objective: To examine e-cigarette use and conventional cigarette smoking.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Cross-sectional analyses of survey data from a representative sample of US middle and high school students in 2011 (n = 17 353) and 2012 (n = 22 529) who completed the 2011 and 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

Results: Among cigarette experimenters (≥1 puff), ever e-cigarette use was associated with higher odds of ever smoking cigarettes (≥100 cigarettes; odds ratio [OR] = 6.31; 95% CI, 5.39-7.39) and current cigarette smoking (OR = 5.96; 95% CI, 5.67-6.27). Current e-cigarette use was positively associated with ever smoking cigarettes (OR = 7.42; 95% CI, 5.63-9.79) and current cigarette smoking (OR = 7.88; 95% CI, 6.01-10.32). In 2011, current cigarette smokers who had ever used e-cigarettes were more likely to intend to quit smoking within the next year (OR = 1.53; 95% CI, 1.03-2.28). Among experimenters with conventional cigarettes, ever use of e-cigarettes was associated with lower 30-day (OR = 0.24; 95% CI, 0.21-0.28), 6-month (OR = 0.24; 95% CI, 0.21-0.28), and 1-year (OR = 0.25; 95% CI, 0.21-0.30) abstinence from cigarettes. Current e-cigarette use was also associated with lower 30-day (OR = 0.11; 95% CI, 0.08-0.15), 6-month (OR = 0.11; 95% CI, 0.08-0.15), and 1-year (OR = 0.12; 95% CI, 0.07-0.18) abstinence. Among ever smokers of cigarettes (≥100 cigarettes), ever e-cigarette use was negatively associated with 30-day (OR = 0.61; 95% CI, 0.42-0.89), 6-month (OR = 0.53; 95% CI, 0.33-0.83), and 1-year (OR = 0.32; 95% CI, 0.18-0.56) abstinence from conventional cigarettes. Current e-cigarette use was also negatively associated with 30-day (OR = 0.35; 95% CI, 0.18-0.69), 6-month (OR = 0.30; 95% CI, 0.13-0.68), and 1-year (OR = 0.34; 95% CI, 0.13-0.87) abstinence.

Conclusions and Relevance: Use of e-cigarettes was associated with higher odds of ever or current cigarette smoking, higher odds of established smoking, higher odds of planning to quit smoking among current smokers, and, among experimenters, lower odds of abstinence from conventional cigarettes. Use of e-cigarettes does not discourage, and may encourage, conventional cigarette use among US adolescents.

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The Relationship Between Brand-Specific Alcohol Advertising on Television and Brand-Specific Consumption Among Underage Youth

Craig Ross et al.
Alcoholism, forthcoming

Background: Being able to investigate the relationship between underage drinkers' preferences for particular brands and their exposure to advertising for those brands would represent a significant advance in alcohol marketing research. However, no previous national study has examined the relationship between underage youth exposure to brand-specific alcohol advertising and consumption of those brands.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional, Internet-based survey of a national sample of 1,031 youth, ages 13–20, who had consumed at least 1 drink of alcohol in the past 30 days. We ascertained all alcohol brands consumed by respondents in the past 30 days. The main outcome measure was brand-specific consumption during the past 30 days, measured as a dichotomous variable. The main predictor variable was exposure to brand-specific alcohol advertising on television. The respondents reported which of 20 television shows popular with youth they had watched during the past 30 days. For each respondent, we calculated a standard measure of potential exposure to the brand-specific alcohol advertising that aired on those shows during the preceding 12 months, based on Nielsen (New York, NY) estimates of the youth audience for each show's telecasts.

Results: Compared to no brand-specific advertising exposure, any exposure was associated with an increased likelihood of brand-specific consumption (adjusted odds ratio 3.02; 95% confidence interval: 2.61–3.49) after controlling for several individual- and brand-level variables. When measured as a continuous variable, the relationship between advertising exposure and brand consumption was nonlinear, with a large association at lower levels of exposure and diminishing incremental effects as the level of exposure increased.

Conclusions: There is a robust relationship between youth's brand-specific exposure to alcohol advertising on television and their consumption of those same alcohol brands during the past 30 days. This study provides further evidence of a strong association between alcohol advertising and youth drinking behavior.

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The influence of societal individualism on a century of tobacco use: Modelling the prevalence of smoking

John Lang, Daniel Abrams & Hans De Sterck
University of Waterloo Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
Smoking of tobacco is predicted to cause approximately six million deaths worldwide in 2014. Responding effectively to this epidemic requires a thorough understanding of how smoking behaviour is transmitted and modified. Here, we present a new mathematical model of the social dynamics that cause cigarette smoking to spread in a population. Our model predicts that more individualistic societies will show faster adoption and cessation of smoking. Evidence from a new century-long composite data set on smoking prevalence in 25 countries supports the model, with direct implications for public health interventions around the world. Our results suggest that differences in culture between societies can measurably affect the temporal dynamics of a social spreading process, and that these effects can be understood via a quantitative mathematical model matched to observations.

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Tobacco Control Policies and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in Developed Nations

Christian King, Sara Markowitz & Hana Ross
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper estimates the effects of higher cigarette prices and smoke-free policies on the prevalence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Using a panel of developed countries over a 20 year period, we find that higher cigarette prices are associated with reductions in the prevalence of SIDS. However, we find no evidence that smoke-free policies are associated with declines in SIDS.

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The Interactive Effect of Neighborhood Peer Cigarette Use and 5HTTLPR Genotype on Individual Cigarette Use

Jonathan Daw et al.
Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous cross-sectional research has shown that adolescents’ cigarette use is interactively associated with that of their school peers and their 5HTTLPR genotype, such that the cigarette use of persons with more copies of the 5HTTLPR*S’ allele is more dependent on school peers’ cigarette use behaviors than their counterparts. This analysis seeks to extend this novel finding by examining whether the same conclusion can be reached when substituting neighborhood peers for school peers and examining the timing of the initiation of any and regular smoking in adolescence. A similar conclusion is reached using an independent sample with longitudinal measures of cigarette use among 6th through 8th graders clustered in 82 neighborhoods, of whom 1,098 contributed genetic data. The proportion of respondents who had ever smoked cigarettes by the first wave was calculated for each Census block group in the study. 5HTTLPR genotype was assayed using the method of Whisman and colleagues (2011). The timing of any or regular smoking initiation and over four years were modeled as dependent variables using Cox proportional hazards models. The interaction of neighborhood peer smoking behavior in the first wave and 5HTTLPR genotype statistically significantly predicted any smoking initiation (hazard ratio: 3.532; p-value = 0.002) and regular smoking initiation (hazard ratio: 5.686; p-value = 0.000), net of controls for sex, race/ethnicity, grade in the first wave of data, and parental educational attainment. These findings reach the same conclusions as previous cross-sectional research. The findings for any smoking initiation are consistent with the diathesis-stress model of gene-environment interaction; the findings for regular smoking initiation are consistent with the differential susceptibility model.

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Awareness of Novel Drug Legality in a Young Adult Population

Michael Singleton, John Stogner & Bryan Lee Miller
American Journal of Criminal Justice, September 2014, Pages 425-435

Abstract:
In recent years, use of substances commonly referred to as ‘legal highs’ has become a significant concern to policy makers and public health officials. Though legislation banning the use and possession of these novel and synthetic drugs often follows the initial media attention and public outcry, potential users may often be unaware of the legislation. A survey including self-reported drug use and perceptions of the legality of various psychoactive substances was administered to 2,346 students in randomly selected classes at a large public university to determine what portion accurately knew four types of novel drugs were locally illegal. Results indicated that numerous potential and current users incorrectly believed that the former ‘legal highs’ remained unrestricted. This sample did include a number of novel drug users; lifetime use of at least one novel drug was reported by 17.1 %, many of which reported using multiple types of novel drugs. Approximately one-third of the overall sample inaccurately believed that Salvia divinorum (34.7 %), K2/Spice (36.5 %), and Mr. Miyagi/Pot-pourri (32.1 %) were legal in the state and over half (50.3 %) inaccurately believed ‘bath salts’ (synthetic cathinones, MDPV, and other synthetic stimulants) remained legal. As these misperceptions have the potential to influence substance use decisions, they may need to be corrected through educational campaigns as widespread as the preceding media coverage that labeled the drug as ‘legal highs.’ Results also indicated that Blacks and previous users of the substances were more likely to hold inaccurate legal beliefs.

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Productive Addicts and Harm Reduction: How Work Reduces Crime – But Not Drug Use

Christopher Uggen & Sarah Shannon
Social Problems, February 2014, Pages 105-130

Abstract:
From the Works Progress Administration of the New Deal to the Job Corps of the Great Society era, employment programs have been advanced to fight poverty and social disorder. In today's context of stubborn unemployment and neoliberal policy change, supported work programs are once more on the policy agenda. This article asks whether work reduces crime and drug use among heavy substance users. And, if so, whether it is the income from the job that makes a difference, or something else. Using the nation's largest randomized job experiment, we first estimate the treatment effects of a basic work opportunity and then partition these effects into their economic and extra-economic components, using a logit decomposition technique generalized to event history analysis. We then interview young adults leaving drug treatment to learn whether and how they combine work with active substance use, elaborating the experiment's implications. Although supported employment fails to reduce cocaine or heroin use, we find clear experimental evidence that a basic work opportunity reduces predatory economic crime, consistent with classic criminological theory and contemporary models of harm reduction. The rate of robbery and burglary arrests fell by approximately 46 percent for the work treatment group relative to the control group, with income accounting for a significant share of the effect.

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Maladaptive Decision Making and Substance Use Outcomes in High-Risk Individuals: Preliminary Evidence for the Role of 5-HTTLPR Variation

Jessica O'Brien, Sarah Lichenstein & Shirley Hill
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, July 2014, Pages 643–652

Objective: Individuals with multiple alcohol-dependent (AD) relatives are at increased risk for substance use disorders (SUDs). Prospective, longitudinal studies of high-risk (HR) individuals afford the opportunity to determine potential risk markers of SUDs. The current study assessed the effect of familial risk and genetic variation on Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) performance and tested for an association between IGT performance and SUD outcomes.

Method: Individuals from multiplex AD families (n = 63) and low-risk (LR; n = 45) control families, ages 16–34 years, were tested using a computerized version of the IGT. SUD outcomes were assessed at approximately yearly intervals. 5-HTTLPR and COMT genotypes were available for the majority of participants (n = 86).

Results: HR offspring showed poorer performance overall on the IGT and especially poor performance on the final trial block (Block 5), indicating a failure to improve decision making with previous experience. The 5-HTTLPR short-allele homozygote participants performed worse than long-allele carriers, with HR S/S carriers exhibiting particularly poor performance. There was no main effect of COMT on IGT performance and no significant COMT by Risk interaction. Significantly more individuals in the HR than LR group met criteria for SUD. Importantly, disadvantageous performance on IGT Block 5 was significantly associated with an earlier age at SUD onset.

Conclusions: This is the first study to show that both familial risk of SUD and 5-HTTLPR variation impact performance on the IGT. Poorer IGT performance was associated with earlier onset of SUD, suggesting that HR individuals who fail to appropriately attend to long-term costs and benefits during a decision-making task are especially at risk for developing SUD in adolescence and young adulthood.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The grass is greener

Affirming belief in scientific progress reduces environmentally friendly behavior

Marijn Meijers & Bastiaan Rutjens
European Journal of Social Psychology, August 2014, Pages 487–495

Abstract:
Many people are reluctant to behave in environmentally friendly ways. One possible explanation might be that the motivation to behave in environmentally friendly ways is undermined by the way scientific progress is overstated in the popular media. Four experiments show that portraying science as rapidly progressing — and thus enabling society to control problems related to the natural environment and human health in the not-too-distant future — is detrimental to environmentally friendly behaviour because such a frame affirms perceptions of an orderly (vs chaotic) world. This in turn negatively affects the likelihood of engaging in environmentally friendly behaviour. Simultaneously, communication that questions (vs affirms) scientific progress leads to lower perceptions of order and consequential increases in environmentally friendly behaviour. These findings show that when the aim is to promote environmentally friendly attitudes and behaviour, it helps to not overstate scientific progress.

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Free to Choose: Promoting Conservation by Relaxing Outdoor Watering Restrictions

Anita Castledine et al.
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
Many water utilities use outdoor watering restrictions based on assigned weekly watering days to promote conservation and delay costly capacity expansions. We find that such policies can lead to unintended consequences - customers who adhere to the prescribed schedule use more water than those following a more flexible irrigation pattern. For our application to residential watering in a high-desert environment, this "rigidity penalty" is robust to an exogenous policy change that allowed an additional watering day per week. Our findings contribute to the growing literature on leakage effects of regulatory policies. In our case inefficiencies arise as policies limit the extent to which agents can temporally re-allocate actions.

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Sharp increase in central Oklahoma seismicity since 2008 induced by massive wastewater injection

K.M. Keranen et al.
Science, 25 July 2014, Pages 448-451

Abstract:
Unconventional oil and gas production provides a rapidly growing energy source; however, high-production states in the United States, such as Oklahoma, face sharply rising numbers of earthquakes. Subsurface pressure data required to unequivocally link earthquakes to injection are rarely accessible. Here we use seismicity and hydrogeological models to show that fluid migration from high-rate disposal wells in Oklahoma is potentially responsible for the largest swarm. Earthquake hypocenters occur within disposal formations and upper-basement, between 2-5 km depth. The modeled fluid pressure perturbation propagates throughout the same depth range and tracks earthquakes to distances of 35 km, with a triggering threshold of ~0.07 MPa. Although thousands of disposal wells operate aseismically, four of the highest-rate wells are capable of inducing 20% of 2008-2013 central US seismicity.

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The reliance on symbolically significant behavioral attributes when judging energy consumption behaviors

Bernadette Sütterlin & Michael Siegrist
Journal of Environmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research provides evidence for people’s susceptibility to the symbolic significance fallacy when judging energy-related behaviors. The fallacy describes people’s tendency to rely on symbolically significant behavioral attributes while neglecting other information. Participants were presented with two energy consumer descriptions. One entailed a positive symbolically significant attribute (e.g., driving a Prius) and a negative symbolically neutral attribute (e.g., covering 28,700 km); for the other one, the reverse was true (e.g., driving an SUV and covering 11,400 km). Thereby, the former actually consumed more energy. As expected, the energy consumer with the positive symbolically significant attribute was considered more energy conscious than the one with the negative symbolically significant attribute. The effect even persisted when providing detailed information on energy consumption, enabling an exact calculation, and asking to directly rate energy consumption. This research points to misperceptions in the estimation of energy consumption that could impede adoption of adequate energy-friendly behavior.

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The Effects of Regulation in the Presence of Multiple Unpriced Externalities: Evidence from the Transportation Sector

Antonio Bento et al.
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, August 2014, Pages 1-29

Abstract:
In transportation systems with unpriced congestion, allowing single-occupant low-emission vehicles in high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to encourage their adoption exacerbates congestion costs for carpoolers. The resulting welfare effects of the policy are negative, with environmental benefits overwhelmingly dominated by the increased congestion costs. Exploiting the introduction of the Clean Air Vehicle Stickers policy in California with a regression discontinuity design, our results imply a best-case cost of $124 per ton of reductions in greenhouse gases, $606,000 dollars per ton of nitrogen oxides reduction, and $505,000 dollars per ton of hydrocarbon reduction, exceeding those of other options readily available to policymakers.

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Moral Outpouring: Shock and Generosity in the Aftermath of the BP Oil Spill

Justin Farrell
Social Problems, August 2014, Pages 482-506

Abstract:
The 2010 BP oil spill is the largest human-caused disaster in U.S. history. Using nationally representative panel data measured before, during, and after the spill I find that rather than giving time and money to actual relief efforts, Americans responded primarily through dramatic increases in time and money given for environmental causes. This expands current understandings about how and why Americans respond to large-scale catastrophe. I argue that this phenomenon can be made sense of theoretically by focusing on the cultural context of “moral shock” precipitated by historic environmental harm and corporate negligence, both of which were amplified in the wake of the spill by national media. This heightened emotional climate interacted with Americans' empathetic identities, practices and habits, politics, and culture to produce different pathways to philanthropic engagement. Consistent with this argument, the results show that all four of these factors mattered for predicting generous behavior in this case, but did so at different points in time. I close by outlining the substantive and theoretical implications of my argument.

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Wielding the green stick: Criminal enforcement at the EPA under the Bush and Obama administrations

Joshua Ozymy & Melissa Jarrell
Environmental Politics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The criminal prosecution of environmental offenders by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is one of the agency’s most politicised yet poorly understood responsibilities. Through content analysis of the Agency’s criminal prosecutions in 2001–2011, we undertook analysis of nearly 1000 cases to understand better whether and how the outcomes of the criminal enforcement division change under presidential administrations. Using a principal-agent framework, our results suggest presidents do matter for enforcement outcomes. Yet, the more interesting conclusion is that these outcomes are not extremely divergent, suggesting that the Agency is able to navigate the often conflicting dictates of various political principals, under similar budgetary constraints, and in step with an Agency culture that values strong enforcement. Moreover, we find that such enforcement efforts are substantively valuable, as many of these cases involve serious and willful violations of law that result in significant harm to humans and the environment.

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Cash for Corollas: When Stimulus Reduces Spending

Mark Hoekstra, Steven Puller & Jeremy West
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
Cash for Clunkers was a 2009 economic stimulus program aimed at increasing new vehicle spending by subsidizing the replacement of older vehicles. Using a regression discontinuity design, we show the increase in sales during the two month program was completely offset during the following seven to nine months, consistent with previous research. However, we also find the program's fuel efficiency restrictions induced households to purchase more fuel efficient but less expensive vehicles, thereby reducing industry revenues by three billion dollars over the entire nine to eleven month period. This highlights the conflict between the stimulus and environmental objectives of the policy.

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Prenatal exposure to airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and IQ: Estimated benefit of pollution reduction

Frederica Perera et al.
Journal of Public Health Policy, August 2014, Pages 327–336

Abstract:
Outdoor air pollution, largely from fossil fuel burning, is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, costing billions of dollars every year in health care and loss of productivity. The developing fetus and young child are especially vulnerable to neurotoxicants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) released to ambient air by combustion of fossil fuel and other organic material. Low-income populations are disproportionately exposed to air pollution. On the basis of the results of a prospective cohort study in a low-income population in New York City (NYC) that found a significant inverse association between child IQ and prenatal exposure to airborne PAH, we estimated the increase in IQ and related lifetime earnings in a low-income urban population as a result of a hypothesized modest reduction of ambient PAH concentrations in NYC of 0.25 ng/m3. For reference, the current estimated annual mean PAH concentration is ~1 ng/m3. Restricting to NYC Medicaid births and using a 5 per cent discount rate, we estimated the gain in lifetime earnings due to IQ increase for a single year cohort to be US$215 million (best estimate). Using much more conservative assumptions, the estimate was $43 million. This analysis suggests that a modest reduction in ambient concentrations of PAH is associated with substantial economic benefits to children.

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Long-term effects of income specialization in oil and gas extraction: The U.S. West, 1980–2011

Julia Haggerty et al.
Energy Economics, September 2014, Pages 186–195

Abstract:
The purpose of the study is to evaluate the relationships between oil and natural gas specialization and socioeconomic well-being during the period 1980 to 2011 in a large sample of counties within the six major oil- and gas-producing states in the interior U.S. West: Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. The effects of participation in the early 1980s oil and gas boom and long-term specialization were considered as possible drivers of socioeconomic outcomes. Generalized estimating equations were used to regress 11 measures of economic growth and quality of life on oil and gas specialization while accounting for various confounding factors including degree of access to markets, initial socioeconomic conditions in 1980, and dependence on other economic sectors. Long-term oil and gas specialization is observed to have negative effects on change in per capita income, crime rate, and education rate. Participation in the early 1980s boom was positively associated with change in per capita income; however the positive effect decreases the longer counties remain specialized in oil and gas. Our findings contribute to a broader public dialogue about the consequences of resource specialization involving oil and natural gas and call into question the assumption that long-term oil and gas development confers economic advantages upon host communities.

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Lead Exposure and Behavior: Effects on Antisocial and Risky Behavior among Children and Adolescents

Jessica Wolpaw Reyes
NBER Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
It is well known that exposure to lead has numerous adverse effects on behavior and development. Using data on two cohorts of children from the NLSY, this paper investigates the effect of early childhood lead exposure on behavior problems from childhood through early adulthood. I find large negative consequences of early childhood lead exposure, in the form of an unfolding series of adverse behavioral outcomes: behavior problems as a child, pregnancy and aggression as a teen, and criminal behavior as a young adult. At the levels of lead that were the norm in United States until the late 1980s, estimated elasticities of these behaviors with respect to lead range between 0.1 and 1.0.

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An Empirical Analysis of Cost Recovery in Superfund Cases: Implications for Brownfields and Joint and Several Liability

Howard Chang & Hilary Sigman
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, September 2014, Pages 477–504

Abstract:
Economic theory developed in the prior literature indicates that under the joint and several liability imposed by the federal Superfund statute, the government should recover more of its costs of cleaning up contaminated sites than it would under nonjoint liability, and the amount recovered should increase with the number of defendants and with the independence among defendants in trial outcomes. We test these predictions empirically using data on outcomes in federal Superfund cases. Theory also suggests that this increase in the amount recovered may discourage the sale and redevelopment of potentially contaminated sites (or “brownfields”). We find the increase to be substantial, which suggests that this implicit tax on sales may be an important deterrent for parties contemplating brownfields redevelopment.

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The Impact of Trial Runs on the Acceptability of Environmental Taxes: Experimental Evidence

Todd Cherry, Steffen Kallbekken & Stephan Kroll
Resource and Energy Economics, November 2014, Pages 84–95

Abstract:
This paper examines the political difficulty of enacting welfare-enhancing environmental taxes. Using referenda in a market experiment with externalities, we investigate the effect of trial periods on the acceptability of two theoretically equivalent Pigouvian tax schemes. While implementing either tax is in subjects’ material self-interest, we find significant levels of opposition to both schemes, though the level differs considerably. Results show that trial runs can overcome initial tax aversion, which is robust across schemes, but a trial with one scheme does not affect the acceptability of the other. Trial periods also mitigate initial biases in preferences of alternative tax schemes.

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Would you rule out going green? The effect of inclusion versus exclusion mindset on pro-environmental willingness

Rachel McDonald, Ben Newell & Thomas Denson
European Journal of Social Psychology, August 2014, Pages 507–513

Abstract:
Two experiments demonstrate that participants' willingness to endorse adopting pro-environmental behaviors is influenced substantially by a decision-framing effect: the inclusion–exclusion discrepancy. Participants were presented with a list of 26 pro-environmental behaviors (e.g., take a shorter shower, buy local produce). In both experiments, participants asked to cross out the behaviors they would not be willing to engage in (exclusion mindset) generated 30% larger consideration sets than those asked to circle behaviors that they would be willing to do (inclusion mindset). Experiment 2 identified qualities of the behaviors that accounted for the differences in the size of consideration sets, namely effort and opportunity. The results suggest the counter-intuitive notion that encouraging people to think about what they would not do for the environment might lead them to do more.

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Fault Zone Regulation, Seismic Hazard, and Social Vulnerability in Los Angeles, California: Hazard or Urban Amenity?

Nathan Toké, Christopher Boone & Ramón Arrowsmith
Earth's Future, forthcoming

Abstract:
Public perception and regulation of environmental hazards are important factors in the development and configuration of cities. Throughout California, probabilistic seismic hazard mapping and geologic investigations of active faults have spatially quantified earthquake hazard. In Los Angeles, these analyses have informed earthquake engineering, public awareness, the insurance industry, and the government regulation of developments near faults. Understanding the impact of natural hazards regulation on the social and built geography of cities is vital for informing future science and policy directions. We constructed a relative social vulnerability index classification for Los Angeles to examine the social condition within regions of significant seismic hazard; including areas regulated as Alquist-Priolo (AP) Act earthquake fault zones. Despite hazard disclosures, social vulnerability is lowest within AP regulatory zones and vulnerability increases with distance from them. Because the AP Act requires building setbacks from active faults, newer developments in these zones are bisected by parks. Parcel-level analysis demonstrates that homes adjacent to these fault zone parks are the most valuable in their neighborhoods. At a broad scale, a Landsat-based normalized difference vegetation index shows that greenness near AP zones is greater than the rest of the metropolitan area. In the parks-poor city of Los Angeles, fault zone regulation has contributed to the construction of park space within areas of earthquake hazard, thus transforming zones of natural hazard into amenities, attracting populations of relatively high social status, and demonstrating that the distribution of social vulnerability is sometimes more strongly tied to amenities than hazards.

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Estimating the net implicit price of energy efficient building codes on U.S. households

Bishwa Koirala, Alok Bohara & Robert Berrens
Energy Policy, October 2014, Pages 667–675

Abstract:
Requiring energy efficiency building codes raises housing prices (or the monthly rental equivalent), but theoretically this effect might be fully offset by reductions in household energy expenditures. Whether there is a full compensating differential or how much households are paying implicitly is an empirical question. This study estimates the net implicit price of energy efficient buildings codes, IECC 2003 through IECC 2006, for American households. Using sample data from the American Community Survey 2007, a heteroskedastic seemingly unrelated estimation approach is used to estimate hedonic price (house rent) and energy expenditure models. The value of energy efficiency building codes is capitalized into housing rents, which are estimated to increase by 23.25 percent with the codes. However, the codes provide households a compensating differential of about a 6.47 percent reduction (about $7.71) in monthly energy expenditure. Results indicate that the mean household net implicit price for these codes is about $140.87 per month in 2006 dollars ($163.19 in 2013 dollars). However, this estimated price is shown to vary significantly by region, energy type and the rent gradient.

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Shale Gas Development and Housing Values over a Decade: Evidence from the Barnett Shale

Jeremy Glenn Weber, Wesley Burnett & Irene Xiarchos
U.S. Association for Energy Economics Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
Extracting natural gas from shale formations can create local economic benefits such as public revenues but also disamenities such as truck traffic, both of which change over time. We study how shale gas development affected zip code level housing values in Texas’ Barnett Shale, which splits the Dallas-Fort Worth region in half and is the most extensively developed shale formation in the U.S. We find that housing in shale zip codes appreciated more than nonshale zip codes during peak development and less afterwards, with a net positive effect of five to six percentage points from 1997 to 2013. The greater appreciation in part reflects improved local public finances: the value of natural gas rights expanded the local tax base by $82,000 per student, increasing school revenues and expenditures. Within shale zip codes, however, an extra well per square kilometer was associated with a 1.6 percentage point decrease in appreciation over the study period.

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A tale of trade-offs: The impact of macroeconomic factors on environmental concern

Stephen Conroy & Tisha Emerson
Journal of Environmental Management, December 2014, Pages 88–93

Objective: We test whether macroeconomic conditions affect individuals' willingness to pay for environmental quality improvements.

Method: We use a nearly 40-year span (27 periods) of the General Social Survey (1974–2012) to estimate attitudes toward environmental spending while controlling for U.S. macroeconomic conditions and respondent-specific factors such as age, gender, marital status, number of children, residential location, educational attainment, personal financial condition, political party affiliation and ideology. Macroeconomic conditions include one-year lagged controls for the unemployment rate, the rate of economic growth (percentage change in real GDP), and an indicator for whether the U.S. economy was experiencing a recession.

Results: We find that, in general, when economic conditions are unfavorable (i.e., during a recession, or with higher unemployment, or lower GDP growth), respondents are more likely to believe the U.S. is spending too much on “improving and protecting the environment”. Interacting lagged macroeconomic controls with respondent's income, we find that these views are at least partially offset by the respondent's own economic condition (i.e., their own real income).

Conclusion: Our findings are consistent with the notion that environmental quality is a normal, or procyclical good, i.e., that environmental spending should rise when the economy is expanding and fall during economic contractions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cultural landscape

National Happiness and Genetic Distance: A Cautious Exploration

Eugenio Proto & Andrew Oswald
University of Warwick Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
This paper examines a famous puzzle in social science. Why do some nations report such high happiness? Denmark, for instance, regularly tops the league table of rich nations’ wellbeing; Great Britain and the US enter further down; France and Italy do relatively poorly. Yet the explanation for this ranking – one that holds even after adjustment for GDP and socioeconomic and cultural variables – remains unknown. We explore a new avenue. Using data on 131 countries, we document a range of evidence consistent with the hypothesis that certain nations may have a genetic advantage in well-being.

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Unhappy Cities

Edward Glaeser, Joshua Gottlieb & Oren Ziv
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
There are persistent differences in self-reported subjective well-being across U.S. metropolitan areas, and residents of declining cities appear less happy than other Americans. Newer residents of these cities appear to be as unhappy as longer term residents, and yet some people continue to move to these areas. While the historical data on happiness are limited, the available facts suggest that cities that are now declining were also unhappy in their more prosperous past. One interpretation of these facts is that individuals do not aim to maximize self-reported well-being, or happiness, as measured in surveys, and they willingly endure less happiness in exchange for higher incomes or lower housing costs. In this view, subjective well-being is better viewed as one of many arguments of the utility function, rather than the utility function itself, and individuals make trade-offs among competing objectives, including but not limited to happiness.

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The French Unhappiness Puzzle: The Cultural Dimension of Happiness

Claudia Senik
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article sheds light on the important differences in self-declared happiness across countries of similar affluence. It hinges on the different happiness statements of natives and immigrants in a set of European countries to disentangle the influence of objective circumstances versus psychological and cultural factors. The latter turn out to be of non-negligible importance. In some countries, such as France, they are responsible for the best part of the country's unobserved idiosyncratic source of unhappiness. French natives are less happy than other Europeans, whether they live in France or outside. By contrast, immigrants are not less happy in France than they are elsewhere in Europe, but their happiness fall with the passage of time and generations. I show that these gaps in self-declared happiness have a real emotional counterpart and do not boil down to purely nominal differences.

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The (True) Legacy of Two Really Existing Economic Systems

Dan Ariely et al.
Duke University Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
By running an experiment among Germans collecting their passports or ID cards in the citizen centers of Berlin, we find that individuals with an East German family background cheat significantly more on an abstract task than those with a West German family background. The longer individuals were exposed to socialism, the more likely they were to cheat on our task. While it was recently argued that markets decay morals (Falk and Szech, 2013), we provide evidence that other political and economic regimes such as socialism might have an even more detrimental effect on individuals’ behavior.

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Cyber-shilling in Automobile Auctions: Evidence from a Field Experiment

David Grether, David Porter & Matthew Shum
American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We run a large field experiment with an online company specializing in selling used automobiles via ascending auctions. We manipulate experimentally the "price grid," or the possible amounts that bidders can bid above the current standing price. Using two diverse auction sites, one in New York and one in Texas, we find that buyer and seller behavior differs strikingly across the two sites. Specifically, in Texas we find peculiar patterns of bidding among a small but prominent group of buyers suggesting that they are "cyber-shills" working on behalf of sellers. These patterns do not appear in the New York auctions.

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Cultural differences in indecisiveness: The role of naïve dialecticism

Andy Ng & Michaela Hynie
Personality and Individual Differences, November 2014, Pages 45–50

Abstract:
East Asians exhibit naïve dialecticism, a set of worldviews that tolerates contradictions. As influenced by naïve dialecticism, East Asians are more likely to hold and less likely to change ambivalent attitudes, compared with European North Americans. If East Asians have a heightened tendency to see both positive and negative aspects of an object or issue, but a lesser inclination to resolve these inconsistencies, East Asians (vs. European North Americans) may experience more difficulty in committing to an action, and thus be more indecisive. Consistent with this hypothesis, we found that East Asian Canadians scored higher on a measure of chronic indecisiveness than did European Canadians and South Asian Canadians, and that naïve dialecticism and need for cognition mediated the relationship between culture and indecisiveness. These results add to the extant literature on indecisiveness, demonstrating cultural variations in indecisiveness and an underlying cultural factor that is responsible for these cultural differences.

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Differences in voice-hearing experiences of people with psychosis in the USA, India and Ghana: Interview-based study

T.M. Luhrmann et al.
British Journal of Psychiatry, forthcoming

Aims: To compare auditory hallucinations across three different cultures, by means of an interview-based study.

Method: An anthropologist and several psychiatrists interviewed participants from the USA, India and Ghana, each sample comprising 20 persons who heard voices and met the inclusion criteria of schizophrenia, about their experience of voices.

Results: Participants in the USA were more likely to use diagnostic labels and to report violent commands than those in India and Ghana, who were more likely than the Americans to report rich relationships with their voices and less likely to describe the voices as the sign of a violated mind.

Conclusions: These observations suggest that the voice-hearing experiences of people with serious psychotic disorder are shaped by local culture. These differences may have clinical implications.

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A Socio-Ecological Approach to Cross-Cultural Differences in the Sensitivity to Social Rejection: The Partially Mediating Role of Relational Mobility

Kosuke Sato, Masaki Yuki & Vinai Norasakkunkit
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The authors propose that cross-cultural differences in sensitivity to social rejection, or the extent to which one is alert to potential rejection from significant others, can be understood as an adaptation to different social ecological contexts varying in the degrees of relational mobility. In societies low in relational mobility, such as East Asia, relationships and group memberships are stable and exclusive, and thus it is difficult for individuals to recover once rejected from current relationships or groups. In these contexts, one would expect people to be continuously paying attention to negative feedback from others to avoid potential rejection. In contrast, this type of anxiety will be less pronounced in societies high in relational mobility, such as North America, because there are a greater number of relationship alternatives available, even if individuals were to be excluded from a particular relationship. Results from two cross-national studies showed that, as expected, individuals’ perceptions of relational mobility partially mediated rejection sensitivity (Study 1) and Taijin Kyofusho, an allocentric subtype of social anxiety (Study 2).

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How Persistent Are Consumption Habits? Micro-Evidence from Russia's Alcohol Market

Lorenz Kueng & Evgeny Yakovelv
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
We use the Anti-Alcohol Campaign in 1986 and the rapid expansion of the beer market after the collapse of the Soviet Union as two quasi-natural experiments to identify highly persistent habit formation in alcohol consumption among Russian males. Importantly, these results apply to all levels of alcohol consumption and are not driven by heavy drinking or alcoholism. The two large shocks combined with persistent habits lead to large cohort differences in consumer behavior even decades later. We derive a basic model of habit formation with homogeneous preferences over two habit-forming goods, which is consistent with these facts. Using placebo tests as well as simple descriptive statistics, we show that habits are formed during early adulthood and remain largely unaffected afterward. The main alternative hypotheses such as income effects, unobserved taste heterogeneity, stepping-stone effects, and changes in culture or social norms are inconsistent with those patterns. Using the experiments as IVs, we estimate the first-order autoregressive coefficient to be 0.83, which is almost three times larger than its OLS estimate. Finally, our results suggest that male mortality in Russia will decrease by one quarter within twenty years even under current policies and prices due to the long-run consequences of the large changes in the alcohol market.

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Spontaneous or controlled: Overall structural organization of political phone-ins in two countries and their relations to societal norms

Gonen Dori-Hacohen
Journal of Pragmatics, September 2014, Pages 1–15

Abstract:
This study describes the differing overall structural organization of political radio phone-in interactions in Israel and the USA. The American phone-in is highly organized, tightly controlled by the host, who knows and introduces the caller at the opening, and closes the interaction unilaterally. In the Israeli phone-in, the opening resembles the mundane phone call: the call-taker acts as if he responds to a summons, there are greeting sequences, and the caller has the task of self-identification, since hosts do not know with whom they talk. Closings in Israel are negotiated and include pre-closings and closing sequences. Unlike the US structure, the Israeli structure promotes non-hierarchical institutional relations between participants, akin to mundane relations, often taken as relations between equals. The conclusion connects the overall structural organizations with the communication patterns in each society, suggesting phone-ins are one site that resonates and recreates societal norms.

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Subjective and Objective Hierarchies and Their Relations to Psychological Well-Being: A U.S./Japan Comparison

Katherine Curhan et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Hierarchy can be conceptualized as objective social status (e.g., education level) or subjective social status (i.e., one’s own judgment of one’s status). Both forms predict well-being. This is the first investigation of the relative strength of these hierarchy–well-being relationships in the U.S. and Japan, cultural contexts with different normative ideas about how social status is understood and conferred. In probability samples of Japanese (N = 1,027) and U.S. (N = 1,805) adults, subjective social status more strongly predicted life satisfaction, positive affect, sense of purpose, and self-acceptance in the United States than in Japan. In contrast, objective social status more strongly predicted life satisfaction, positive relations with others, and self-acceptance in Japan than in the United States. These differences reflect divergent cultural models of self. The emphasis on independence characteristic of the United States affords credence to one’s own judgment (subjective status), and the interdependence characteristic of Japan gives weight to what others can observe (objective status).

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Mortality Salience and Cultural Cringe: The Australian Way of Responding to Thoughts of Death

Emiko Kashima et al.
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Terror Management Theory predicts that mortality salience (MS) instigates cultural worldview defenses, especially among individuals with lower self-esteem. That MS intensifies positive evaluations of pro-U.S. essay authors, and negative evaluations of anti-U.S. essay authors have been documented as supportive evidence. However, the evidence to date may have been limited to where praising for the former and rejection of the latter authors is consistent with a shared cultural script and thus normative. In the case of Australian people, the cultural script of cringe prescribes them to evaluate their country modestly and to reject high praise of their country. We therefore predicted that MS (vs. control) should lead Australians, with low self-esteem in particular, to evaluate pro-Australia essay authors less positively while not affecting their evaluations of anti-Australia essay authors. Results from two studies were consistent with this prediction. It is important to distinguish MS effects on adherence to cultural norms from those on reaffirming collective self-esteem, and to consider relevant cultural scripts when interpreting evidence for worldview defenses.

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False Commitments: Local Misrepresentation and the International Norms Against Female Genital Mutilation and Early Marriage

Karisa Cloward
International Organization, Summer 2014, Pages 495-526

Abstract:
A substantial international relations literature addresses the various ways in which international actors, and the norms they promote, influence state behavior. But less attention has been paid to the influence these actors directly exert at the local level, despite the fact that many transnational campaigns promote norms for which individuals — not states — are the primary transgressors. If individuals behave as some states do, publicly embracing international norms only because they expect a financial or reputational benefit from doing so, then the campaigns have not fully succeeded. But when do individuals engage in real behavior change, and when do they simply change the public image they present to the international community? To begin to address this question, I employ a randomized field experiment to evaluate individuals' willingness to make claims that differ from their true normative commitments. I conducted the experiment in the context of an original 2008 opinion survey about female genital mutilation and early marriage, run in rural Kenya. I find that respondents misrepresent their behavior and intentions, and I supplement these findings with an exploration of causal mechanisms through qualitative interviews.

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When You Think About It, Your Past Is in Front of You: How Culture Shapes Spatial Conceptions of Time

Juanma de la Fuente et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
In Arabic, as in many languages, the future is “ahead” and the past is “behind.” Yet in the research reported here, we showed that Arabic speakers tend to conceptualize the future as behind and the past as ahead of them, despite using spoken metaphors that suggest the opposite. We propose a new account of how space-time mappings become activated in individuals’ minds and entrenched in their cultures, the temporal-focus hypothesis: People should conceptualize either the future or the past as in front of them to the extent that their culture (or subculture) is future oriented or past oriented. Results support the temporal-focus hypothesis, demonstrating that the space-time mappings in people’s minds are conditioned by their cultural attitudes toward time, that they depend on attentional focus, and that they can vary independently of the space-time mappings enshrined in language.

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Culture and the Ownership Concentration of Public Corporations around the World

Clifford Holderness
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
As a country’s attitude toward egalitarianism increases, which means a societal preference for the equal as opposed to hierarchical treatment of individuals, the ownership of the public corporations in the country becomes more concentrated. This finding is robust to a wide range of specifications and methodologies. Once egalitarianism is accounted for, there is no evidence that other cultural attitudes, including trust and religion, or legal protections for public market investors, including those laws that figure prominently in the literature, are related to ownership concentration. One explanation for the robust association between egalitarianism and ownership concentration is that large shareholders are valuable when employees have strong legal rights.

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Fitting in or Sticking Together: The Prevalence and Adaptivity of Conformity, Relatedness, and Autonomy in Japan and Turkey

Derya Güngör et al.
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this research, we compare two forms of interdependent agency. Whereas all interdependent cultures emphasize interpersonal connectedness, we suggest that the nature of this connection may differ between face and honor cultures. In a large survey, with 163 Japanese and 172 Turkish students, we tested the idea that, consistent with the concern for face, Japanese interdependence emphasizes conformity; that is, fitting in, whereas, consistent with the concern for honor, Turkish interdependence stresses relatedness; that is, sticking together. The results confirmed these hypotheses: Japanese described their agency more in terms of conformity than Turks, whereas Turks described their agency more in terms of relatedness. Moreover, relational well-being was predicted by conformity in the Japanese group and by relatedness in the Turkish group. Autonomy was also important for both samples, and it predicted personal well-being. Results suggest that a multi-dimensional approach to interdependent agency is needed to distinguish meaningfully between different interdependent cultures.

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Trust Issues: Evidence on the Intergenerational Trust Transmission among Children of Immigrants

Martin Ljunge
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, October 2014, Pages 175–196

Abstract:
This paper estimates the intergenerational transmission of trust by studying children of immigrants in 29 European countries with ancestry in 87 nations. There is significant transmission of trust on the mother's side, and the transmission is significantly stronger than on the father's side. The transmission is stronger in high trust countries. Building trust in high trust environments is a process lasting generations. Intriguingly, trust transmission is strong also in low trust birth countries if ancestral trust is very high. There is persistence of very high trust in low trusting environments through cultural transmission in the family.

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Culture-dependent strategies in coordination games

Matthew Jackson & Yiqing Xing
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 22 July 2014, Pages 10889-10896

Abstract:
We examine different populations’ play in coordination games in online experiments with over 1,000 study participants. Study participants played a two-player coordination game that had multiple equilibria: two equilibria with highly asymmetric payoffs and another equilibrium with symmetric payoffs but a slightly lower total payoff. Study participants were predominantly from India and the United States. Study participants residing in India played the strategies leading to asymmetric payoffs significantly more frequently than study participants residing in the United States who showed a greater play of the strategy leading to the symmetric payoffs. In addition, when prompted to play asymmetrically, the population from India responded even more significantly than those from the United States. Overall, study participants’ predictions of how others would play were more accurate when the other player was from their own populations, and they coordinated significantly more frequently and earned significantly higher payoffs when matched with other study participants from their own population than when matched across populations.

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“Express the Real You”: Cultural Differences in the Perception of Self-Expression as Authenticity

Michail Kokkoris & Ulrich Kühnen
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, September 2014, Pages 1221-1228

Abstract:
Prior research shows that people feel authentic when they express themselves. In this research, we examined how people from different cultures make inferences about a target person’s authenticity based on information about that person’s self-expression. Our cultural-fit hypothesis proposes that acts of self-expression enhance perceptions of authenticity when they are congruent with the culturally prevalent self-expression norms. In an experiment with Germans and Chinese reading scenarios and making inferences about a hypothetical person, we found that authenticity judgments were the highest, when the target person’s self-expression matched the culturally valued self-expression style — that is, expressing both likes and dislikes in Germany, and expressing only likes but no dislikes in China. Moreover, we found that the interactive effect of self-expression and culture had downstream effects on information processing, such that in the case of counter-cultural self-expression practices participants were more likely to seek information that would compensate for this cultural incongruence.

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Cross-Cultural Agreement in Facial Attractiveness Preferences: The Role of Ethnicity and Gender

Vinet Coetzee et al.
PLoS ONE, July 2014

Abstract:
Previous work showed high agreement in facial attractiveness preferences within and across cultures. The aims of the current study were twofold. First, we tested cross-cultural agreement in the attractiveness judgements of White Scottish and Black South African students for own- and other-ethnicity faces. Results showed significant agreement between White Scottish and Black South African observers' attractiveness judgements, providing further evidence of strong cross-cultural agreement in facial attractiveness preferences. Second, we tested whether cross-cultural agreement is influenced by the ethnicity and/or the gender of the target group. White Scottish and Black South African observers showed significantly higher agreement for Scottish than for African faces, presumably because both groups are familiar with White European facial features, but the Scottish group are less familiar with Black African facial features. Further work investigating this discordance in cross-cultural attractiveness preferences for African faces show that Black South African observers rely more heavily on colour cues when judging African female faces for attractiveness, while White Scottish observers rely more heavily on shape cues. Results also show higher cross-cultural agreement for female, compared to male faces, albeit not significantly higher. The findings shed new light on the factors that influence cross-cultural agreement in attractiveness preferences.

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Facial emotion recognition: A cross-cultural comparison of Chinese, Chinese living in Australia, and Anglo-Australians

Catherine Prado et al.
Motivation and Emotion, June 2014, Pages 420-428

Abstract:
This study investigated how the cultural match or mismatch between observer and perceiver can affect the accuracy of judgements of facial emotion, and how acculturation can affect cross-cultural recognition accuracy. The sample consisted of 51 Caucasian-Australians, 51 people of Chinese heritage living in Australia (PCHA) and 51 Mainland Chinese. Participants were required to identify the emotions of happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust displayed in photographs of Caucasian and Chinese faces. The PCHA group also responded to an acculturation measure that assessed their adoption of Australian cultural values and adherence to heritage (Chinese) cultural values. Counter to the hypotheses, the Caucasian-Australian and PCHA groups were found to be significantly more accurate at identifying both the Chinese and Caucasian facial expressions than the Mainland Chinese group. Adoption of Australian culture was found to predict greater accuracy in recognising the emotions displayed on Caucasian faces for the PCHA group.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:14:00 AM

Monday, August 11, 2014

A pen and a phone

Preemptive Policy Experimentation

Steven Callander & Patrick Hummel
Econometrica, July 2014, Pages 1509–1528

Abstract:
We develop a model of experimentation and learning in policymaking when control of power is temporary. We demonstrate how an early office holder who would otherwise not experiment is nonetheless induced to experiment when his hold on power is temporary. This preemptive policy experiment is profitable for the early office holder as it reveals information about the policy mapping to his successor, information that shapes future policy choices. Thus policy choices today can cast a long shadow over future choices purely through information transmission and absent any formal institutional constraints or real state variables. The model we develop utilizes a recent innovation that represents the policy mapping as the realized path of a Brownian motion. We provide a precise characterization of when preemptive experimentation emerges in equilibrium and the form it takes. We apply the model to several well known episodes of policymaking, reinterpreting the policy choices as preemptive experiments.

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Corporate Distress and Lobbying Evidence from the Stimulus Act

Manuel Adelino & Serdar Dinc
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The literature on distressed firms has focused on these firms’ investment, capital structure, and labor decisions. This paper investigates a novel aspect of firm behavior in distress: how financial health affects a firm's lobbying and, consequently, its relationship with the government. We exploit the shock to nonfinancial firms during the 2008 financial crisis and the availability of the stimulus package in the first quarter of 2009. We find that firms with weaker financial health, as measured by credit default swap spreads, lobbied more. We also show that the amount spent on lobbying was associated with a greater likelihood of receiving stimulus funds.

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Presidents and the U.S. Economy: An Econometric Exploration

Alan Blinder & Mark Watson
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
The U.S. economy has grown faster — and scored higher on many other macroeconomic metrics — when the President of the United States is a Democrat rather than a Republican. For many measures, including real GDP growth (on which we concentrate), the performance gap is both large and statistically significant, despite the fact that postwar history includes only 16 complete presidential terms. This paper asks why. The answer is not found in technical time series matters (such as differential trends or mean reversion), nor in systematically more expansionary monetary or fiscal policy under Democrats. Rather, it appears that the Democratic edge stems mainly from more benign oil shocks, superior TFP performance, a more favorable international environment, and perhaps more optimistic consumer expectations about the near-term future. Many other potential explanations are examined but fail to explain the partisan growth gap.

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Can the President Really Affect Economic Growth? Presidential Effort and the Political Business Cycle

Chris Rohlfs, Ryan Sullivan & Robert McNab
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Presidential elections are often seen as referendums on the health of the economy; however, little evidence exists on the president's ability to influence gross domestic product (GDP). This study examines the effect of the incentive to be reelected and the resulting increase in presidential effort on GDP growth. Growth is found to rise in reelection years for first-term presidents after 1932 and to fall in election years before 1932, when reelection was uncommon, and for second-term presidents generally. This effect is largest for high-quality presidents — who probably have the highest return to effort — and is spread across multiple sectors of the economy.

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Policy Experimentation, Political Competition, and Heterogeneous Beliefs

Antony Millner, Hélène Ollivier & Leo Simon
London School of Economics Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
We consider a two period model in which an incumbent political party chooses the level of a current policy variable unilaterally, but faces competition from a political opponent in the future. Both parties care about voters payoffs, but they have different beliefs about how policy choices will map into future economic outcomes. We show that when the incumbent party can endogenously influence whether learning occurs through its policy choices (policy experimentation), future political competition gives it a new incentive to distort its policies - it manipulates them so as to reduce uncertainty and disagreement in the future, thus avoiding facing competitive elections with an opponent very different from itself. The model thus demonstrates that all incumbents can find it optimal to ‘over experiment’, relative to a counter-factual in which they are sure to be in power in both periods. We thus identify an incentive for strategic policy manipulation that does not depend on self-serving behavior by political parties, but rather stems from their differing beliefs about the consequences of their actions.

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Guns and Votes

Laurent Bouton et al.
NBER Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
Why are U.S. congressmen reluctant to support gun control regulations, despite the fact that most Americans are in favor of them? We argue that re-election motives can lead politicians to take a pro-gun stance against the interests of an apathetic majority of the electorate, but in line with the interests of an intense minority. We develop a model of gun control choices in which incumbent politicians are both office and policy motivated, and voters differ in the direction and intensity of their preferences. We derive conditions under which politicians support gun control early in their terms, but oppose them when they approach re-election. We test the predictions of the model by analyzing votes on gun-related legislation in the U.S. Senate, in which one third of the members are up for re-election every two years. We find that senators are more likely to vote pro gun when they are close to facing re-election, a result which holds comparing both across and within legislators. Only Democratic senators "flip flop'' on gun control, and only if the group of pro-gun voters in their constituency is of intermediate size.

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Flip-Flopping: Ideological Adjustment Costs in the United States Senate

Jason DeBacker
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a long panel of roll call voting data, I find that “flip-flopping” senators face significant electoral costs when changing positions. In models of electoral competition, as the costs to candidates changing position approach zero, the equilibrium prediction is the convergence of platforms. Such convergence is at odds with empirical observation. Using a dynamic, structural model of candidate positioning, I identify the nature of the costs associated with changing position that may result in such non-convergence.

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The Constraining, Liberating, and Informational Effects of Nonbinding Law

Justin Fox & Matthew Stephenson
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
We show that nonbinding law can have a constraining effect on political leaders, because legal compliance is a costly signal to imperfectly informed voters that the leader is unbiased. Moreover, nonbinding law can also have a liberating effect, enabling some leaders to take action when they otherwise would have done nothing. In addition, we illustrate how voters may face a trade-off between the legal standard that induces optimal behavior of the current leader (i.e., that most effectively addresses the moral hazard problem) and the legal standard that optimizes selection of future leaders (i.e., that most effectively addresses the adverse selection problem). We discuss a range of positive and normative implications that follow from our analysis.

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Is It Whom You Know or What You Know? An Empirical Assessment of the Lobbying Process

Marianne Bertrand, Matilde Bombardini & Francesco Trebbi
American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do lobbyists provide issue-specific information to members of Congress? Or do they provide special interests access to politicians? We present evidence to assess the role of issue expertise versus connections in the US Federal lobbying process and illustrate how both are at work. In support of the connections view, we show that lobbyists follow politicians they were initially connected to when those politicians switch to new committee assignments. In support of the expertise view, we show that there is a group of experts that even politicians of opposite political affiliation listen to. However, we find a more consistent monetary premium for connections than expertise.

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Partisan Effects of Legislative Term Limits

Andrew Hall
Legislative Studies Quarterly, August 2014, Pages 407–429

Abstract:
Term limits remain a popular policy reform and have generated a great deal of scholarship as a result. Although many predicted that term limits would benefit the Republican party, the literature finds no marked partisan effects, possibly because termed-out legislators have largely been replaced by copartisans. This article demonstrates that term limits have indeed had partisan effects — just not on electoral outcomes. Term limits have caused a significant reallocation of institutional power from Democrats to Republicans (as measured by contributions from access-oriented interest groups), in large part because they have removed more senior Democrats than Republicans. The partisan effects of term limits therefore point to the institutional value of seniority.

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Civil Service Reform

Gergely Ujhelyi
Journal of Public Economics, October 2014, Pages 15–25

Abstract:
Civil service rules governing the selection and motivation of bureaucrats are among the defining institutions of modern democracies. Although this is an active area of reform in the US and elsewhere, economic analyses of the issue are virtually nonexistent. This paper provides a welfare evaluation of civil service reform. It describes the effect of reform on the interaction of politicians, voters, and bureaucrats, and shows that society often faces trade-offs between improving the bureaucracy or improving the performance of politicians. My results characterize the conditions under which merit-based recruitment and civil service protections such as tenure can improve welfare.

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The Political Mobilization of Firms and Industries

Edward Walker & Christopher Rea
Annual Review of Sociology, 2014, Pages 281-304

Abstract:
Corporate political activity is both a long-standing preoccupation and an area of innovation for sociologists. We examine the limitations of investigating business unity without focusing directly on processes and outcomes and then review studies of five types of business political action that offer lenses into corporate power in the United States: engagement in electoral politics, direct corporate lobbying, collective action through associations and coalitions, business campaigns in civil society, and political aspects of corporate responsibility. Through these avenues, we highlight four shifts since the 1970s: (a) increasing fragmentation of capitalist interests, (b) closer attention to links between business lobbying and firms' social embeddedness, (c) a turn away from the assumption that money buys political victories, and (d) new avenues of covert corporate influence. This body of research has reinvigorated the classic elitist/pluralist debate while also raising novel questions about how business actors are adapting to (and generating changes within) their sociopolitical environments.

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Cities Where Women Rule: Female Political Incorporation and the Allocation of Community Development Block Grant Funding

Adrienne Smith
Politics & Gender, September 2014, Pages 313-340

Abstract:
While individual women representatives in government have been found to behave differently than men, the causal connection between the increased presence of women in elected offices and the production of women-friendly policies is tenuous at best. This study leverages the variation in women's office holding, government structures, and policy outputs found in American cities to address that puzzle. It argues that when women obtain leadership positions in municipal government and when the positions they hold have greater power relative to other municipal positions, cities will be more likely to produce policy outputs that are often associated with women's interests and needs. Utilizing an original city-level dataset and modeling women's presence as mayors and policy outputs endogenously, the results reveal that empowered female executives in municipal governments influence expenditure decisions made as part of the federal Community Development Block Grant program. The findings suggest that political scientists should consider not only the presence of an underrepresented group, but also the relative amount of power that group has when assessing the effects on substantive representation.

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Representing Latinos: Examining Descriptive and Substantive Representation in Congress

Sophia Wallace
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using an original data set of roll call votes and bill co-sponsorships across three high salience issues (immigration, labor, and education) and one low salience issue (social security), this article analyzes the 111th Congress to assess representation of Latinos. Partisanship is the key determinant in member behavior on voting, not the member’s race or ethnicity or constituent demographics. For bill co-sponsorships, Latino members are only more active on high salience issue areas compared with non-Latino members. Increases in Latino population do not influence behavior. The results also indicate that African American and Democratic legislators offer Latinos considerable amounts of substantive representation.

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Electoral Incentives and Legislative Organization: An Examination of Committee Autonomy in U.S. State Legislatures

Tanya Bagashka & Jennifer Hayes Clark
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the relationship between electoral institutions and committee autonomy in the context of U.S. state legislatures. The distributive theories of legislative organization suggest that electoral rules that make personal reputations more important motivate legislators to decentralize power and enhance committee autonomy to be able to target particularistic goods to their local constituencies. We argue that the distributive theories have direct implications for the relationship between candidate selection procedures and committee autonomy. The need to reach out to a large number of voters and to amass significant financial resources in states with more inclusive candidate selection procedures such as the open primary makes representatives more dependent on special interests, which is conducive to legislative particularism and committee autonomy. We take advantage of the great variation across the American states to investigate the effects of candidate selection procedures, a factor neglected in the previous literature. Examining 24 state legislatures from 1955 to 1995, we find that the inclusiveness of the selectorate, or the body electing candidates, has a significant effect on committee autonomy with more inclusive primary elections leading to more autonomous committee systems. By contrast, however, term limits were not a significant predictor of committee autonomy. This contributes to our understanding of how legislators amend institutional arrangements to achieve their electoral goals.

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Blacklisted Benefactors: The Political Contestation of Nonmarket Strategy

Mary-Hunter McDonnell & Timothy Werner
University of Texas Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
To identify whether or not social movement challenges affect firms’ political strategies, we exploit boycotts of firms through a matched sample, difference-in-difference analysis of PAC donations. Using a new dataset that includes all boycotts of public firms over a 15-year period that received national media attention, we ask a) whether, when facing a boycott, firms decrease their giving to politicians running for federal office, b) whether politicians running for office refund a higher proportion of the donations given by these boycotted firms, and c) what mechanisms drive the relationship between activist challenges and refunded contributions. Ultimately, we find robust evidence that when a firm faces a boycott, it subsequently decreases its PAC contributions and has more of its PAC contributions refunded. With regard to the boycott’s characteristics, we find that the percentage of donations refunded is greater when the boycott receives more media attention and targets a parent company and when the public perceives the claim behind the boycott as more legitimate. With regard to the target firm’s characteristics, we find that boycotts increase the percentage of donations refunded when the firm occupies a position of low status within its industry, operates in an unregulated industry, does not engage in attempts to manage public impressions of its social behavior, and concedes to the boycott. These findings have three implications. First, as the first researchers to analyze politicians’ refunds to firms, we provide new evidence as to how these elites react when the cost of associating with such interests rise. Second, in an era in which the cost of organizing against corporate interests is dropping, we provide the first evidence that activists can constrain corporate nonmarket strategy, at least in the public realm of campaign finance. Finally, since our results demonstrate that firms’ disclosed electoral activity is constrained by activism, firms’ may shift more of their contributions and political expenditures into the undisclosed electoral channels allowed by Citizens United v. FEC.

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From Political Pathways to Legislative Folkways: Electoral Reform, Professionalization, and Representation in the U.S. Senate

Scott MacKenzie
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The Seventeenth Amendment transferred responsibility for selecting senators from state legislatures to voters. Scholars argue that voters’ ability to sanction performance ex post altered senators’ legislative activities. I focus on voters’ ex ante screening of senators. Using original data on senators’ political experiences, I show that direct elections increased the professionalization of pre-Senate careers. I then use sequence analysis methods to identify career paths to the Senate. Pre-Senate career paths help explain which senators received important committee assignments. These findings challenge claims that direct elections had minimal effects on the Senate’s composition and that recruitment is unrelated to legislative behavior.

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Interest-Group Size and Legislative Lobbying

Maik Schneider
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, October 2014, Pages 29–41

Abstract:
We develop a model of legislative decision making in which lobbying and public policy are jointly determined. We examine how policy outcomes depend on the sizes of the interest groups. While a larger size typically involves favorable effects on policy, we also identify threshold levels of interest-group size where a lobby will be harmed if it becomes larger. This may provide another rationale as to why some interests do not or not fully organize. Spending limits can remove adverse policy effects of interest-group size. However, this is not necessarily welfare improving. Moreover, we find that endogenous proposal making may turn a second-mover advantage in standard legislative lobbying models into a second-mover disadvantage.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A beautiful mind

Solving the puzzle of why Finns have the highest IQ, but one of the lowest number of Nobel prizes in Europe

Edward Dutton, Jan te Nijenhuis & Eka Roivainen
Intelligence, September–October 2014, Pages 192–202

Abstract:
Finland has been noted to perform consistently very well in the international PISA assessments for many years, but it also has a relatively low per capita number of Nobel Prize winners. We draw upon a large body of proxy data and direct evidence, including the first ever use of RTs to calculate the Finnish IQ and the first ever use of the WAIS IV and PISA scores in the same capacity. Based on these data, we hypothesize that Finns perform so consistently well in PISA because they have a higher IQ overall than other European countries and exhibit a specialized slow life history strategy characterized by high Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, and low Psychoticism and Extraversion. Most of these traits predict educational success but all would suppress genius and creativity amongst this population. We connect the present distribution of phenotypic traits amongst the Finnish population with evolutionary change starting in the Pleistocene, accelerating in the Holocene, and continuing into the present day. We argue that this profile explains why Finns are relatively poorly represented in terms of science Nobel laureates.

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Practice Does Not Make Perfect: No Causal Effect of Music Practice on Music Ability

Miriam Mosing et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The relative importance of nature and nurture for various forms of expertise has been intensely debated. Music proficiency is viewed as a general model for expertise, and associations between deliberate practice and music proficiency have been interpreted as supporting the prevailing idea that long-term deliberate practice inevitably results in increased music ability. Here, we examined the associations (rs = .18–.36) between music practice and music ability (rhythm, melody, and pitch discrimination) in 10,500 Swedish twins. We found that music practice was substantially heritable (40%−70%). Associations between music practice and music ability were predominantly genetic, and, contrary to the causal hypothesis, nonshared environmental influences did not contribute. There was no difference in ability within monozygotic twin pairs differing in their amount of practice, so that when genetic predisposition was controlled for, more practice was no longer associated with better music skills. These findings suggest that music practice may not causally influence music ability and that genetic variation among individuals affects both ability and inclination to practice.

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Art as an indicator of male fitness: Does prenatal testosterone influence artistic ability?

Danae Crocchiola
Evolutionary Psychology, Summer 2014, Pages 521-533

Abstract:
In his groundbreaking research, Geoffrey Miller (1999) suggests that artistic and creative displays are male-predominant behaviors and can be considered to be the result of an evolutionary advantage. The outcomes of several surveys conducted on jazz and rock musicians, contemporary painters, English writers (Miller, 1999), and scientists (Kanazawa, 2000) seem to be consistent with the Millerian hypothesis, showing a predominance of men carrying out these activities, with an output peak corresponding to the most fertile male period and a progressive decline in late maturity. One way to evaluate the sex-related hypothesis of artistic and cultural displays, considered as sexual indicators of male fitness, is to focus on sexually dimorphic traits. One of them, within our species, is the 2nd to 4th digit length (2D:4D), which is a marker for prenatal testosterone levels. This study combines the Millerian theories on sexual dimorphism in cultural displays with the digit ratio, using it as an indicator of androgen exposure in utero. If androgenic levels are positively correlated with artistic exhibition, both female and male artists should show low 2D:4D ratios. In this experiment we tested the association between 2D:4D and artistic ability by comparing the digit ratios of 50 artists (25 men and 25 women) to the digit ratios of 50 non-artists (25 men and 25 women). Both male and female artists had significantly lower 2D:4D ratios (indicating high testosterone) than male and female controls. These results support the hypothesis that art may represent a sexually selected, typically masculine behavior that advertises the carrier’s good genes within a courtship context.

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Novel Television-Based Cognitive Training Improves Working Memory and Executive Function

Evelyn Shatil et al.
PLoS ONE, July 2014

Abstract:
The main study objective was to investigate the effect of interactive television-based cognitive training on cognitive performance of 119 healthy older adults, aged 60–87 years. Participants were randomly allocated to a cognitive training group or to an active control group in a single-blind controlled two-group design. Before and after training interactive television cognitive performance was assessed on well validated tests of fluid, higher-order ability, and system usability was evaluated. The participants in the cognitive training group completed a television-based cognitive training programme, while the participants in the active control group completed a TV-based programme of personally benefiting activities. Significant improvements were observed in well validated working memory and executive function tasks in the cognitive training but not in the control group. None of the groups showed statistically significant improvement in life satisfaction score. Participants' reports of “adequate” to “high” system usability testify to the successful development and implementation of the interactive television-based system and compliant cognitive training contents. The study demonstrates that cognitive training delivered by means of an interactive television system can generate genuine cognitive benefits in users and these are measurable using well-validated cognitive tests. Thus, older adults who cannot use or afford a computer can easily use digital interactive television to benefit from advanced software applications designed to train cognition.

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Younger Adults Show Long-Term Effects of Cognitive Training on Broad Cognitive Abilities Over 2 Years

Florian Schmiedek, Martin Lövdén & Ulman Lindenberger
Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the COGITO study (Schmiedek, Lövdén, & Lindenberger, 2010), 101 younger adults practiced 12 tests of perceptual speed, working memory, and episodic memory for over 100 daily 1-hr sessions. The intervention resulted in positive transfer to broad cognitive abilities, including reasoning and episodic memory. Here, we examine whether these ability-based transfer effects are maintained over time. Two years after the end of the training, 80 participants returned for follow-up assessments of the comprehensive battery of transfer tasks. We found reliable positive long-term transfer effects for reasoning and episodic memory, controlling for retest effects by including participants from the original control group. This shows, for the first time, that intensive cognitive training interventions can have long-term broad transfer at the level of cognitive abilities.

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Psychopathology, Adversity, and Creativity: Diversifying Experiences in the Development of Eminent African Americans

Rodica Ioana Damian & Dean Keith Simonton
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Symptoms associated with mental illness have been hypothesized to relate to creative achievement because they act as diversifying experiences. However, this theory has only been tested on predominantly majority-culture samples. Do tendencies toward mental illness still predict eminent creativity when they coexist with other diversifying experiences, such as early parental death, minority-status, or poverty? These alternative diversifying experiences can be collectively referred to as examples of developmental adversity. This conjecture was tested on a significant sample of 291 eminent African Americans who, by the nature of their status as long-term minorities, would experience more developmental adversity. Replicating majority-culture patterns, African American artists showed higher mental illness rates than African American scientists. Yet the absolute percentages were significantly lower for the African Americans, regardless of profession. Furthermore, mental illness predicted higher eminence levels only for the African American artists, an effect that diminished when controlling for developmental adversity. Because the latter predicted eminence for both artists and scientists, the “madness-to-genius” link probably represents just 1 of several routes by which diversifying experiences can influence eminence. The same developmental ends can be attained by different means. This inference warrants further research using other eminent creators emerging from minority culture populations.

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How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity

Anne Bolwerk et al.
PLoS ONE, July 2014

Abstract:
Visual art represents a powerful resource for mental and physical well-being. However, little is known about the underlying effects at a neural level. A critical question is whether visual art production and cognitive art evaluation may have different effects on the functional interplay of the brain's default mode network (DMN). We used fMRI to investigate the DMN of a non-clinical sample of 28 post-retirement adults (63.71 years ±3.52 SD) before (T0) and after (T1) weekly participation in two different 10-week-long art interventions. Participants were randomly assigned to groups stratified by gender and age. In the visual art production group 14 participants actively produced art in an art class. In the cognitive art evaluation group 14 participants cognitively evaluated artwork at a museum. The DMN of both groups was identified by using a seed voxel correlation analysis (SCA) in the posterior cingulated cortex (PCC/preCUN). An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was employed to relate fMRI data to psychological resilience which was measured with the brief German counterpart of the Resilience Scale (RS-11). We observed that the visual art production group showed greater spatial improvement in functional connectivity of PCC/preCUN to the frontal and parietal cortices from T0 to T1 than the cognitive art evaluation group. Moreover, the functional connectivity in the visual art production group was related to psychological resilience (i.e., stress resistance) at T1. Our findings are the first to demonstrate the neural effects of visual art production on psychological resilience in adulthood.

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Does insight problem solving predict real-world creativity?

Roger Beaty, Emily Nusbaum & Paul Silvia
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, August 2014, Pages 287-292

Abstract:
Insight problems are commonly used to assess creative problem solving. Such problems are often employed by proponents of the associative view of creativity — the notion that creative ideas result from unconscious processes. Surprisingly little is known, however, about how well performance on insight problems predicts real-world creativity. In two studies, we explored the contribution of several classic insight problems in creative achievement (Study 1; n = 133) and everyday creative behavior (Study 2; n = 173). We also assessed the role of personality and fluid intelligence, two well-established predictors of real-world creativity, to determine their relative influence beyond the effect of insight. Both studies found no evidence for a relationship between insight problem solving and creative behavior and achievement. Openness to experience and fluid intelligence, however, showed notable effects on both behavior and achievement. The present work thus raises the question of whether insight problem solving relates to real-world creativity.

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Enhanced motor skill acquisition in the non-dominant upper extremity using intermittent theta burst stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation

Raymond Butts, Melissa Kolar & Roger Newman-Norlund
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, June 2014

Abstract:
Individuals suffering from motor impairments often require physical therapy (PT) to help improve their level of function. Previous investigations suggest that both intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) and bihemispheric transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) may increase the speed and extent of motor learning/relearning. The purpose of the current study was to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of a novel, non-invasive brain stimulation approach that combined an iTBS primer, and bihemispheric stimulation coupled with motor training. We hypothesized that individuals exposed to this novel treatment would make greater functional improvements than individuals undergoing sham stimulation when tested immediately following, 24-h, and 7-days post-training. A total of 26 right-handed, healthy young adults were randomly assigned to either a treatment (n = 15) or control group (n = 12). iTBS (20 trains of 10 pulse triplets each delivered at 80% active motor threshold (AMT) / 50 Hz over 191.84 s) and bihemispheric tDCS (1.0 ma for 20 min) were used as a primer to, and in conjunction with, 20 min of motor training, respectively. Our primary outcome measure was performance on the Jebsen-Taylor Hand Function (JTHF) test. Participants tolerated the combined iTBS/bihemispheric stimulation treatment without complaint. While performance gains in the sham and stimulation group were not significant immediately after training, they were nearly significant 24-h post training (p = 0.055), and were significant at 7-days post training (p < 0.05). These results suggest that the combined iTBS/bihemispheric stimulation protocol is both feasible and effective. Future research should examine the mechanistic explanation of this approach as well as the potential of using this approach in clinical populations.

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Creativity, Psychopathology, and Emotion Processing: A Liberal Response Bias for Remembering Negative Information is Associated with Higher Creativity

Marina Drus, Aaron Kozbelt & Robert Hughes
Creativity Research Journal, Summer 2014, Pages 251-262

Abstract:
To what extent do more creative people process emotional information differently than less creative people? This study examined the role of emotion processing in creativity and its implications for the creativity–psychopathology association. A total of 117 participants performed a memory recognition task for negative, positive, and neutral words; they also completed measures of emotion processing, creative achievement, and divergent thinking. Self-reported high creative achievement levels and better performance on divergent thinking tasks were associated with greater perceptual sensitivity for positive words and a more liberal response bias for negative words. Furthermore, mediational analyses revealed a relationship between creativity, emotional repair, and response bias for negative stimuli, whereby a low ability to repair negative emotions served as a mediator between creativity and response bias, with response bias predicting creativity. The significance of these findings is discussed in the context of psychopathology and its possible connection to creativity.

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How Quickly They Forget: The Relationship Between Forgetting and Working Memory Performance

Donna Bayliss & Christopher Jarrold
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined the contribution of individual differences in rate of forgetting to variation in working memory performance in children. One hundred and twelve children (mean age 9 years 4 months) completed 2 tasks designed to measure forgetting, as well as measures of working memory, processing efficiency, and short-term storage ability. Individual differences in forgetting rate accounted for unique variance in working memory performance over and above variance explained by measures of processing efficiency and storage ability. In addition, the nature of the variation in forgetting was more consistent with a nonexecutive forgetting parameter than an executive ability associated with resistance to interference. These findings indicate that individual differences in the rate at which information is lost from memory is an important constraint on children’s working memory performance, which has implications for current models of working memory that do not incorporate such a factor.

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Neural correlates of verbal creativity: Differences in resting-state functional connectivity associated with expertise in creative writing

Martin Lotze et al.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, July 2014

Abstract:
Neural characteristics of verbal creativity as assessed by word generation tasks have been recently identified, but differences in resting-state functional connectivity (rFC) between experts and non-experts in creative writing have not been reported yet. Previous electroencephalography (EEG) coherence measures during rest demonstrated a decreased cooperation between brain areas in association with creative thinking ability. Here, we used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare 20 experts in creative writing and 23 age-matched non-experts with respect to rFC strengths within a brain network previously found to be associated with creative writing. Decreased rFC for experts was found between areas 44 of both hemispheres. Increased rFC for experts was observed between right hemispheric caudate and intraparietal sulcus. Correlation analysis of verbal creativity indices (VCIs) with rFC values in the expert group revealed predominantly negative associations, particularly of rFC between left area 44 and left temporal pole. Overall, our data support previous findings of reduced connectivity between interhemispheric areas and increased right-hemispheric connectivity during rest in highly verbally creative individuals.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, August 9, 2014

On Offense

Effects of playing a violent video game as male versus female avatar on subsequent aggression in male and female players

Grace Yang, Rowell Huesmann & Brad Bushman
Aggressive Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research has shown that violent video games can increase aggression in players immediately after they play. The present research examines the effects of one subtle cue within violent video games that might moderate these effects — whether the avatar is male or female. One common stereotype is that males are more aggressive than females. Thus, playing a violent video game as a male avatar, compared to a female avatar, should be more likely to prime aggressive thoughts and inclinations in players and lead to more aggressive behavior afterwards. Male and female university students (N = 242) were randomly assigned to play a violent video game as a male or female avatar. After gameplay, participants gave an ostensible partner who hated spicy food hot sauce to eat. The amount of hot sauce given was used to measure aggression. Consistent with priming theory, results showed that both male and female participants who played a violent game as a male avatar behaved more aggressively afterwards than those who played as female avatar. The priming effects of the male avatar were somewhat stronger for male participants than for female participants, suggesting that male participants identified more with the male avatar than did the female participants. These results are particularly noteworthy because they are consistent with another recent experiment showing that playing a violent game as an avatar with a different stereotypically aggressive attribute (black skin color) stimulates more aggression than playing as an avatar without the stereotypically aggressive attribute (Yang et al., 2014, Social Psychological and Personality Science).

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Is reading “banned” books associated with behavior problems in young readers? The influence of controversial young adult books on the psychological well-being of adolescents

Christopher Ferguson
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, August 2014, Pages 354-362

Abstract:
Many books targeted toward young readers are “banned” or challenged in school and public libraries because of “edgy” violent, sexual, or occult content. Little is known about the possible relationship between such books and negative outcomes in children. Exposure to banned books and outcomes related to civic behaviors, internalizing and externalizing mental health problems, school grade point average (GPA), and violent and nonviolent crime were assessed in a sample of 282 adolescents and preadolescents aged 12–18. Control variables included child age and gender, parent and peer influences, neurotic and antisocial personality traits, and general reading for pleasure and required reading for school. Results indicated that relationships between banned books and negative outcomes were complex. Banned books were associated with increased civic behaviors concurrently. Banned books did not predict GPA, or commission of violent or nonviolent crimes. However, banned books were associated with increased internalizing and externalizing mental health symptoms. This relationship was driven by a small number of individuals, and was not linear in nature. Further, this relationship was true for girls, but much weaker in boys. GPA was predicted by increased reading for pleasure, but not required school reading. In regards to social outcomes, reading of banned books is associated with both increased civic behavior and little risk of antisocial behavior. A relationship does exist between banned book reading and mental health symptoms in a small subsample of readers although whether that relationship is causal or cathartic requires further research.

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Country, sex, and parent occupational status: Moderators of the continuity of aggression from childhood to adulthood

Katja Kokko et al.
Aggressive Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using data from two American and one Finnish long-term longitudinal studies, we examined continuity of general aggression from age 8 to physical aggression in early adulthood (age 21–30) and whether continuity of aggression differed by country, sex, and parent occupational status. In all samples, childhood aggression was assessed via peer nominations and early adulthood aggression via self-reports. Multi-group structural equation models revealed significant continuity in aggression in the American samples but not in the Finnish sample. These relations did not differ by sex but did differ by parent occupational status: whereas there was no significant continuity among American children from professional family-of-origin backgrounds, there was significant continuity among American children from non-professional backgrounds.

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Impersonal Agencies of Communication: Comparing the Effects of Video Games and Other Risk Factors on Violence

Whitney DeCamp
Psychology of Popular Media Culture, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the debated topic of violent video games and violent behavior, empirical evidence has been mixed. Some studies support the assertion that there is a causal or correlational link between gaming and violence, whereas others do not find such support. Recent advances have demonstrated that adequately controlling for background characteristics that might result in a selection bias decrease the effect sizes. However, it remains unclear how strong of an effect video game playing has in comparison with other risk factors. The present study uses data from >6,000 eighth-grade students to examine the effects of playing violent games. Using propensity score matching and logistic regression models, results are estimated to show the relative effects from gaming and other social risk factors. Results indicate that propensity score matching decreases the already modest effect from gaming, often to nonsignificance. In comparison with other risk factors in the models, the effects are also relatively weak.

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Psychopathic sexuality: The thin line between fantasy and reality

Beth Visser et al.
Journal of Personality, forthcoming

Objective: In two studies, we explored the relations between psychopathic traits and sexual fantasy content. METHOD: In Study 1, we rated content themes in the fantasy narratives of 195 men and women recruited at a Canadian university. In Study 2, we administered a sexual fantasy questionnaire to sample of 355 Canadian undergraduate students.

Results: In Study 1, we found that psychopathic traits predicted themes of anonymous, uncommitted, and non-romantic sexual activity after controlling for participant sex. In Study 2, we found that psychopathy added to the prediction of self-reported engagement in unrestricted, dominant, submissive, deviant, and adventurous sexual activity, even after controlling for participant sex and level of fantasizing about that activity. Furthermore, an interaction between psychopathy and level of fantasizing was observed for unrestricted and deviant sexual behavior, such that participants who reported high levels of fantasizing about these sexual themes were more likely to engage in that behavior if they also reported high levels of psychopathic traits.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that not only is psychopathy related to interest in particular sexual behaviors, but also to whether individuals will translate these fantasized behaviors into reality.

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Can music with prosocial lyrics heal the working world? A field intervention in a call center

Karen Niven
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Music with lyrics about helping is shown to reduce aggression in the laboratory. This paper tests whether the prosocial lyric effect generalizes to reducing customer aggression in the workplace. A field experiment involved changing the hold music played to customers of a call center. The results of a 3 week study suggested that music significantly affected customers, but not in the way suggested by previous laboratory experiments; compared with days when instrumental background music was played, caller anger and employee exhaustion were lower on days when callers were played popular music with neutral, but not prosocial, lyrics. The findings suggest that music influences customer aggression, but that the prosocial lyric effect may not generalize from the laboratory to the call center.

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High outgroup entitativity can inhibit intergroup retribution

Anna-Kaisa Newheiser & John Dovidio
British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Understanding the psychological processes that are involved in the perpetuation and escalation of intergroup conflict remains an important goal for intergroup relations research. In the present research, we examined perceived outgroup entitativity as a potential determinant of intergroup hostility. In intergroup conflict situations, high-entitative outgroups are perceived as particularly deserving of retribution; however, high-entitative outgroups are also perceived as efficacious and capable of retaliating successfully, suggesting that people may inhibit hostility against high-entitative (vs. low-entitative) outgroups that are in a position to retaliate. We tested this prediction in two studies. In Study 1, we manipulated intergroup provocation and outgroup entitativity, and found that higher negative mood predicted greater aggression against a low-entitative provoker outgroup, but failed to predict aggression against a high-entitative provoker outgroup that was plausibly in a position to retaliate. In Study 2, we held provocation constant while manipulating outgroup entitativity and the possibility of retaliation by the outgroup, and found that people acted in a retributive manner against a high-entitative provoker outgroup only when the outgroup was not in a position to retaliate. Implications for intergroup conflict are discussed.

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A longitudinal study of risk-glorifying video games and behavioral deviance

Jay Hull et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, August 2014, Pages 300-325

Abstract:
Character-based video games do more than allow one to practice various kinds of behaviors in a virtual environment; they allow one to practice being a different kind of person. As such, we propose that games can alter self-perceptions of personal characteristics, attitudes, and values with broad consequences for behavior. In a multiwave, longitudinal study of adolescents, we examined the extent to which play of mature-rated, risk-glorifying (MRRG) games was associated with increases in alcohol use, cigarette smoking, aggression, delinquency, and risky sex as a consequence of its effects on personality, attitudes, and affiliations indicative of increased tolerance of deviance. Participants were selected with random-digit-dial procedures and followed for 4 years. Data were analyzed with linear mixed modeling to assess change over time and structural equation modeling with latent variables to test hypothesized mediational processes. Among those who play video games, playing MRRG games was associated with increases in all measures of behavioral deviance. Mediational models support the hypothesis that these effects are in part a consequence of the effects of such gameplay on sensation seeking and rebelliousness, attitudes toward deviant behavior in oneself and others, and affiliation with deviant peers. Effects were similar for males and females and were strongest for those who reported heavy play of mature-rated games and games that involved protagonists who represent nonnormative and antisocial values. In sum, the current research supports the perspective that MRRG gameplay can have consequences for deviant behavior broadly defined by affecting the personality, attitudes, and values of the player.

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Association of low-activity MAOA allelic variants with violent crime in incarcerated offenders

Dean Stetler et al.
Journal of Psychiatric Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
The main enzyme for serotonin degradation, monoamine oxidase (MAO) A, has recently emerged as a key biological factor in the predisposition to impulsive aggression. Male carriers of low-activity variants of the main functional polymorphism of the MAOA gene (MAOA-uVNTR) have been shown to exhibit a greater proclivity to engage in violent acts. Thus, we hypothesized that low-activity MAOA-uVNTR alleles may be associated with a higher risk for criminal violence among male offenders. To test this possibility, we analyzed the MAOA-uVNTR variants of violent (n=49) and non-violent (n=40) male Caucasian and African-American convicts in a correctional facility. All participants were also tested with the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS-11) and Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire (BPAQ) to assess their levels of childhood trauma exposure, impulsivity and aggression, respectively. Our results revealed a robust (P<0.0001) association between low-activity MAOA-uVNTR alleles and violent crime. This association was replicated in the group of Caucasian violent offenders (P<0.01), but reached only a marginal trend (P=0.08) in their African American counterparts. While violent crime charges were not associated with CTQ, BIS-11 and BPAQ scores, carriers of low-activity alleles exhibited a mild, yet significant (P<0.05) increase in BIS-11 total and attentional-impulsiveness scores. In summary, these findings support the role of MAOA gene as a prominent genetic determinant for criminal violence. Further studies are required to confirm these results in larger samples of inmates and evaluate potential interactions between MAOA alleles and environmental vulnerability factors.

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Arousal, Working Memory Capacity, and Sexual Decision-Making in Men

Tara Spokes et al.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study investigated whether working memory capacity (WMC) moderated the relationship between physiological arousal and sexual decision making. A total of 59 men viewed 20 consensual and 20 non-consensual images of heterosexual interaction while their physiological arousal levels were recorded using skin conductance response. Participants also completed an assessment of WMC and a date-rape analogue task for which they had to identify the point at which an average Australian male would cease all sexual advances in response to verbal and/or physical resistance from a female partner. Participants who were more physiologically aroused by and spent more time viewing the non-consensual sexual imagery nominated significantly later stopping points on the date-rape analogue task. Consistent with our predictions, the relationship between physiological arousal and nominated stopping point was strongest for participants with lower levels of WMC. For participants with high WMC, physiological arousal was unrelated to nominated stopping point. Thus, executive functioning ability (and WMC in particular) appears to play an important role in moderating men’s decision making with regard to sexually aggressive behavior.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, August 8, 2014

Executive Order

Top Management Conservatism and Corporate Risk Strategies: Evidence from Managers’ Personal Political Orientation and Corporate Tax Avoidance

Dane Christensen et al.
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate whether managers’ personal political orientation helps explain tax avoidance at the firms they manage. Results reveal the intriguing finding that, on average, firms with top executives who lean toward the Republican Party actually engage in less tax avoidance than firms whose executives lean toward the Democratic Party. We also examine changes in tax avoidance around CEO turnovers and find corroborating evidence. Additionally, we find that political orientation is helpful in explaining top management team composition and CEO succession. Our paper extends theory and research by 1) illustrating how tax avoidance can serve as another measure of corporate risk taking and 2) using political orientation as a proxy for managerial conservatism, which is an ex ante measure of a manager's propensity towards risk.

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Marriage and Managers' Attitudes to Risk

Nikolai Roussanov & Pavel Savor
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Marital status can both reflect and affect individual preferences. We explore the impact of marriage on corporate chief executive officers (CEOs) and find that firms run by single CEOs exhibit higher stock return volatility, pursue more aggressive investment policies, and do not respond to changes in idiosyncratic risk. These effects are weaker for older CEOs. Our findings continue to hold when we use variation in divorce laws across states to instrument for CEO marital status, which supports the hypothesis that marriage itself drives choices rather than it just reflecting innate heterogeneity in preferences. We explore various potential explanations for why single CEOs may be less risk averse.

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Local Gambling Preferences and Corporate Innovative Success

Yangyang Chen et al.
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, February 2014, Pages 77-106

Abstract:
This paper examines the role of local attitudes toward gambling on corporate innovative activity. Using a county’s Catholics-to-Protestants ratio as a proxy for local gambling preferences, we find that firms located in gambling-prone areas tend to undertake riskier projects, spend more on innovation, and experience greater innovative output. We contrast the local gambling effect with chief executive officer (CEO) overconfidence, another behavioral effect reported to influence innovation. We find that local gambling preferences are a stronger determinant of innovative activity, with CEO overconfidence being more relevant to innovation in areas where gambling attitudes are strong.

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When does charisma matter for top-level leaders? Effect of attributional ambiguity

Philippe Jacquart & John Antonakis
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
One stream of leadership theory suggests leaders are evaluated via inferential observer processes that compare the fit of the target to a prototype of an ideal (charismatic) leader. Attributional theories of leadership suggest that evaluations depend on knowledge of past organizational performance, which is attributed to the leader's skills. We develop a novel theory showing how inferential and attributional processes simultaneously explain top-level leader evaluation and ultimately leader retention and selection. We argue that observers will mostly rely on attributional mechanisms when performance signals clearly indicate good or poor performance outcomes. However, under conditions of attributional ambiguity (i.e., when performance signals are unclear), observers will mostly rely on inferential processes. In Study 1 we tested our theory in an unconventional context — the U.S. presidential election — and found that the two processes, due to the leader's charisma and country economic performance, interact in predicting whether a leader is selected. Using a business context and an experimental design, in Study 2 we show that CEO charisma and firm performance interact in predicting leader retention, confirming the results we found in Study 1. Our results suggest that this phenomenon is quite general and can apply to various performance domains.

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Industry Window Dressing

Huaizhi Chen, Lauren Cohen & Dong Lou
Harvard Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
We explore a new mechanism through which investors take correlated shortcuts. Specifically, we exploit a regulatory provision governing firm classification into industries: A firm's industry classification is determined by the segment that has the majority of sales. We find strong evidence that investors overly rely on this primary industry classification. Firms just above the industry classification cutoff have significantly higher betas with respect to, as well as more sector mutual fund holdings and analyst coverage from, that industry, compared to nearly identical firms just below the cutoff. We then show that managers undertake specific actions to exploit investor shortcuts. Firms around the discontinuity point of 50% sales are significantly more likely to have just over 50% of sales from a "favorable" industry. Further, these firms just over the cutoff have significantly lower profit margins and inventory growth compared to other firms in the same industries, consistent with these firms slashing prices to increase sales. These same firms, however, do not exhibit different behaviors in any other aspect of their business (e.g., CapEx or R&D), suggesting that it is not a firm-wide shift of focus. Last, firms garner tangible benefits from switching into favorable industries, such as engaging in significantly more SEOs and stock-financed M&As.

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Are All Independent Directors Equally Informed? Evidence Based on Their Trading Returns and Social Networks

Ying Cao et al.
Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the impact of social networks on the ability of independent directors to obtain private information from their firms' executives. We find that independent directors socially connected to their firms' senior executives earn significantly higher returns than unconnected independent directors in stock sales transactions. The network effect on independent directors' trading profitability is stronger in firms with higher information asymmetry and with more powerful executives. In addition, the trading returns of independent directors previously unconnected with firm executives increase after the arrival of a connected executive and drop after the connected executive leaves the firm. Moreover, the net stock sales by connected directors predict future negative news for up to three quarters. As a comparison, the trading returns of connected and unconnected independent directors do not differ significantly in stock purchases. Taken together, our results suggest that social connections help independent directors gain access to private bad news information from firms' senior executives.

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Does Stock Liquidity Enhance or Impede Firm Innovation?

Vivian Fang, Xuan Tian & Sheri Tice
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We aim to tackle the longstanding debate on whether stock liquidity enhances or impedes firm innovation. This topic is of interest because innovation is crucial for firm- and national-level competitiveness and stock liquidity can be altered by financial market regulations. Using a difference-in-differences approach that relies on the exogenous variation in liquidity generated by regulatory changes, we find that an increase in liquidity causes a reduction in future innovation. We identify two possible mechanisms through which liquidity impedes innovation: increased exposure to hostile takeovers and higher presence of institutional investors who do not actively gather information or monitor.

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Boards-R-Us: Reconceptualizing Corporate Boards

Stephen Bainbridge & Todd Henderson
Stanford Law Review, May 2014, Pages 1051-1119

Abstract:
State corporate law requires that “natural persons” provide director services. This Article puts this obligation to scrutiny, and concludes that there are significant gains that could be realized by permitting firms (be they partnerships, corporations, or other business entities) to provide board services. We call these firms “board service providers” (BSPs). We argue that hiring a BSP to provide board services instead of a loose group of sole proprietorships will increase board accountability, both from markets and from courts. The potential economies of scale and scope in the board services industry (including vertical integration of consultants and other board member support functions), as well as the benefits of risk pooling and talent allocation, mean that large professional director services firms may arise, and thereby create a market for corporate governance distinct from the market for corporate control. More transparency about board performance, including better pricing of governance by the market, as well as increased reputational assets at stake in board decisions, means improved corporate governance, all else being equal. But our goal in this Article is not necessarily to increase shareholder control over firms; we show how a firm providing board services could be used to increase managerial power as well. This shows the neutrality of our proposed reform, which can therefore be thought of as a reconceptualization of what a board is rather than a claim about the optimal locus of corporate power.

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The Geography of Financial Misconduct

Christopher Parsons, Johan Sulaeman & Sheridan Titman
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
We find that a firm’s tendency to engage in financial misconduct increases with the misconduct rates of neighboring firms. This appears to be caused by peer effects, rather than exogenous shocks like regional variation in enforcement. Effects are stronger among firms of comparable size, and among CEOs of similar age. Moreover, local waves of financial misconduct correspond with local waves of non-financial corruption, such as political fraud.

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The Role Of CEO Relative Standing In Acquisition Behavior And CEO Pay

Jeongil Seo et al.
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this study, we develop and test a theory of CEO relative pay standing. Specifically, we propose that CEOs with negative relative pay standing status (underpaid relative to comparison CEOs) will engage in acquisition activity, as a self-interested means of attempting to realign their pay with that of their peers. We further propose that when CEOs with negative relative pay standing acquire, they will tend to finance those acquisitions more heavily with stock than cash, to mitigate the risk associated with those deals. Finally, we argue that acquisition activity will partially mediate the influence of CEO negative relative pay standing on subsequent CEO compensation increases; however, that pay growth will come primarily in the form of long-term incentive pay. Our results support our predictions.

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CEO Control, Corporate Performance and Pay-Performance Sensitivity

Yaron Amzaleg et al.
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, October 2014, Pages 166–174

Abstract:
Agency theory suggests that high pay-performance sensitivity (PPS) of CEO's compensation is an important motivation mechanism to the CEO to improve corporate performance. We develop a simple model that suggests that reverse causality should also be considered. Specifically, our model predicts that when good performance is expected, a powerful CEO will push for a contract with higher PPS. Data from 135 Israeli companies over a five-year period confirm the model's main prediction. Our empirical analysis shows that when the CEO is the chairman of the board of directors and thus is more powerful in affecting his compensation scheme, he achieves a high PPS in good periods (in terms of corporate performance), compared to similar powerful CEOs in periods of bad performance, and also compared to less powerful CEOs in good periods.

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Does the Location of Directors Matter? Information Acquisition and Board Decisions

Zinat Alam et al.
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, February 2014, Pages 131-164

Abstract:
Using data on over 4,000 individual residential addresses, we find that geographic distance between directors and corporate headquarters is related to information acquisition and board decisions. The fraction of a board’s unaffiliated directors who live near headquarters is higher when information-gathering needs are greater. When the fraction of unaffiliated directors living near headquarters is lower, nonroutine chief executive officer (CEO) turnover is more sensitive to stock performance. Also, the level, intensity, and sensitivity of CEO equity-based pay increase with board distance. Overall, our results suggest that geographic location is an important dimension of board structure that influences directors’ costs of gathering information.

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The Contract Year Phenomenon in the Corner Office: An Analysis of Firm Behavior During CEO Contract Renewals

Ping Liu & Yuhai Xuan
Harvard Working Paper, April 2014

Abstract:
This paper investigates how executive employment contracts influence corporate financial policies during the final year of the contract term, using a new, hand-collected data set of CEO employment agreements. On the one hand, the impending expiration of fixed-term employment contracts creates incentives for CEOs to engage in strategic window-dressing activities. We find that, compared to normal periods, CEOs manage earnings more aggressively when they are in the process of contract renegotiations. Correspondingly, during CEO contract renewal times, firms are more likely to report earnings that meet or narrowly beat analyst consensus forecasts. Moreover, CEOs also reduce the amount of negative firm news released during their contract negotiation years. On the other hand, we find that merger and acquisition deals announced during the contract renegotiation year yield higher announcement returns than deals announced during other periods, suggesting that the upcoming contract expiration and renewal can also have disciplinary effects on potential value-destroying behaviors of CEOs. In addition, we show that firms whose CEOs are scheduled or expected to leave their posts upon contract expiration do not experience such corporate policy changes in the contract ending year and that CEOs who engage in manipulation during contract renewal obtain better employment terms in their new contracts, in terms of contract length, severance payment, and salary and bonus. Overall, our results indicate that job uncertainty created by expiring employment contracts induces changes in managerial behaviors that have significant impacts on firm financial activities and outcomes.

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The effect of CEO overconfidence on turnover abnormal returns

Neslihan Yilmaz & Michael Mazzeo
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the effect of managerial overconfidence on the market reaction to a CEO change within the firm. Some studies provide empirical evidence that irrational managers may engage in actions that can be detrimental to firm value while others suggest that an overconfident manager can increase firm value. We control for different turnover, governance and firm characteristics, and analyze the abnormal returns of S&P 500 firms in the event of a CEO turnover. We find that when an overconfident CEO is appointed to the firm there is a significant negative impact on firm’s stock price. Our results support the arguments against overconfident CEOs due to the possible future actions of the CEO that may be decrease firm value.

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Employee-Based Brand Equity: Why Firms With Strong Brands Pay Their Executives Less

Nader Tavassoli, Alina Sorescu & Rajesh Chandy
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the concept of employee-based brand equity – the value that a brand provides to a firm through its effects on the attitudes and behaviors of its employees – and empirically demonstrates its significance on executive pay. Executives value being associated with strong brands and, therefore, accept substantially lower pay at firms that own them. Consistent with identity theory, this effect is stronger for CEOs compared to other top executives, as well as for younger executives. Findings from data on a large, cross-industry sample of executives suggest that academics and practitioners should take a broader view of the contributions of brand-related investments to firm value, as well as make use of strong brands in pay negotiations that are typically viewed as being outside the realm of marketing.

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CEO optimism and incentive compensation

Clemens Otto
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
I study the effect of chief executive officer (CEO) optimism on CEO compensation. Using data on compensation in US firms, I provide evidence that CEOs whose option exercise behavior and earnings forecasts are indicative of optimistic beliefs receive smaller stock option grants, fewer bonus payments, and less total compensation than their peers. These findings add to our understanding of the interplay between managerial biases and remuneration and show how sophisticated principals can take advantage of optimistic agents by appropriately adjusting their compensation contracts.

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Does familiarity with business segments affect CEOs’ divestment decisions?

James Ang, Abe de Jong & Marieke van der Poel
Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine the impact of familiarity with business segments on CEOs’ divestment decisions. We find CEOs are less likely to divest assets from familiar than from non-familiar segments. We attribute this effect to CEOs’ comparative information advantage with respect to familiar segments. Consistent with this information advantage, we document that the familiarity effect is particularly strong in R&D intensive industries. We further find the familiarity effect to be most pronounced for longer-tenured CEOs who have built up sufficient political power over the course of several years in office to enable implementation of their preferred divestment choices. We also document the value effects of divestments and show that familiarity affects returns on divestment announcements.

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Voting Rights, Shareholdings, and Leverage at Nineteenth-Century U.S. Banks

Howard Bodenhorn
Journal of Law and Economics, May 2014, Pages 431-458

Abstract:
Modern corporate governance is concerned with the tension between the separation of ownership and control and the potential for large controlling shareholders to expropriate from minority shareholders. This article considers this tension in a historical context. Limits were sometimes placed on the number of votes that controlling shareholders could cast in corporate elections. These limits protected minority shareholders by giving them relatively more voting than cash-flow rights. The evidence shows that voting limits led to less shareholder concentration and less leverage. Banks with less concentrated ownership adopted policies that notably reduced insolvency risk.

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How do powerful CEOs view corporate risk-taking? Evidence from the CEO pay slice (CPS)

Pandej Chintrakarn, Pornsit Jiraporn & Shenghui Tong
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explore the role of powerful CEOs on the extent of risk-taking, using Bebchuk, Cremers and Peyer’s (2011) CEO pay slice (CPS). Based on more than 12,000 observations over 20 years (1992–2012), our results reveal a nonmonotonic association. In particular, relatively less powerful CEOs exhibit risk aversion, resulting in less risky strategies. However, when the CEO has his power consolidated beyond a certain point, he is less likely to compromise with other executives, leading to less moderate decisions and more risky strategies. We estimate that the CEO has to wield considerable power, that is, around the 75th percentile of CPS, before significantly more risk-taking is observed. Finally, we show that our results are unlikely vulnerable to endogeneity.

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The death of the deal: Are withdrawn acquisition deals informative of CEO quality?

Stacey Jacobsen
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
To examine the market response to positive revelations of chief executive officer (CEO) quality, this study focuses on CEOs who withdraw acquisition bids when the price becomes increasingly expensive. Firms that withdraw for price-related reasons earn higher withdrawal returns than firms that withdraw for other reasons. This relation is stronger when CEO uncertainty and discretion is high. CEOs unwilling to increase the offer price are less likely to be replaced and more likely to advance to a larger firm than a control group of CEOs. The finding that the market attaches value to CEO-specific information suggests that unobservable manager characteristics can meaningfully impact firm outcomes.

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When More Is Not Enough: Executive Greed and Its Influence on Shareholder Wealth

Katalin Takacs Haynes, Joanna Tochman Campbell & Michael Hitt
Journal of Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
The concept of greed is one of the oldest social constructs; however, greed as a managerial attribute that affects firm outcomes has yet to attract scholarly attention in management. In this study, we examine the relationship of CEO greed to shareholder wealth. After anchoring greed to familiar constructs in organizational literature, we test our hypotheses on a sample of over 300 publicly traded firms from multiple industries. As predicted, greed has a negative relationship with shareholder return, but this relationship is moderated by the presence of a powerful, independent board, managerial discretion, and CEO tenure. The contributions of this study, which include refining our understanding of self-interest and opportunism, developing the greed construct, and illustrating its impact on shareholder wealth, are intended to open a new line of inquiry in the management literature.

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Exposed: Venture Capital, Competitor Ties, and Entrepreneurial Innovation

Emily Pahnke et al.
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates the impact of early relationships on innovation at entrepreneurial firms. Prior research has largely focused on the benefits of network ties, documenting the many advantages that accrue to firms embedded in a rich network of inter-organizational relationships. In contrast, we build on research emphasizing potential drawbacks to examine how competitive exposure, enabled by powerful intermediaries, can inhibit innovation. We develop the concept of competitive information leakage, which occurs when firms are indirectly tied to their competitors via shared intermediary organizations. To test our theory, we examine every relationship between entrepreneurial firms and their venture capital investors in the minimally-invasive surgical segment of the medical device industry over a 22-year period. We find that indirect ties to competitors impede innovation, and that this effect is moderated by several factors related to the intermediary's opportunities and motivation to leak important information.

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CEO deal-making activities and compensation

Eliezer Fich, Laura Starks & Adam Yore
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using transactions generally overlooked in the compensation literature — joint ventures, strategic alliances, seasoned equity offerings (SEOs), and spin-offs — we find that, beyond compensation for increases in firm size or complexity, chief executive officers (CEOs) are rewarded for their deal-making activities. Boards pay CEOs for the core motivation of the deal, as well as for deal volume. We find that compensating for volume instead of core value creation occurs under weak board monitoring and that in deal-making firms, neither CEO turnover nor pay-for-performance responds to underperformance. We introduce an input monitoring explanation for these results: boards compensate for deal volume because of their inability to perfectly monitor outputs.

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Anchoring On The Acquisition Premium Decisions Of Others

Shavin Malhotra, PengCheng Zhu & Taco Reus
Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Anchoring is a ubiquitous heuristic by which decision-makers heavily rely on a piece of information (anchor) that appears prior to a decision. Yet, we know little about its role in strategic decisions. This study considers its influence on acquisition premiums by examining whether a focal premium decision may be anchored on the premium that another firm paid for the acquisition that directly preceded the focal acquisition in the same market because it presents a salient and compatible premium to decision-makers. Our results support this premise, particularly when preceding acquisitions happened more recently and were similar in size to the focal deals, when focal deals were in a foreign market, and when acquirers lacked acquisition experience in the target market or had a higher acquisition rate.

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Do Variations in the Strength of Corporate Governance Still Matter? A Comparison of the Pre- and Post-Regulation Environment

Nancy Harp, Mark Myring & Rebecca Toppe Shortridge
Journal of Business Ethics, July 2014, Pages 361-373

Abstract:
Corporate scandals brought the issue of corporate governance to the forefront of the agendas of lawmakers and regulators in the early 2000s. As a result, Congress, the New York Stock Exchange, and the NASDAQ enacted standards to improve the quality of corporate governance, thereby enhancing the quantity and quality of disclosures by listed companies. We investigate the relationship between corporate governance strength and the quality of disclosures in pre- and post-regulation time periods. If cross-sectional differences in corporate governance policies affect the quality of financial disclosures, the quality of information available to analysts varies with such policies. Specifically, higher quality disclosures, produced as a result of strong corporate governance, should lead to more accurate and less dispersed analysts’ forecasts. Our analysis suggests that voluntary implementation of stronger corporate governance enhanced the quality of disclosures in the pre-regulation period; however, exceeding current corporate governance standards does not appear to result in higher quality disclosures post-regulation. These results suggest that SOX and the stronger regulations enacted by U.S. exchanges were effective in reducing variation in the quality of financial information available to investors.

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Financial Expert CEOs: CEO’s Work Experience and Firm’s Financial Policies

Cláudia Custódio & Daniel Metzger
Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study CEOs with a career background in finance. Firms with financial expert CEOs hold less cash, more debt, and engage in more share repurchases. Financial expert CEOs are more financially sophisticated: they are less likely to use one companywide discount rate instead of a project-specific one, they manage financial policies more actively, and their firm investments are less sensitive to cash flows. Financial expert CEOs are able to raise external funds even when credit conditions are tight, and they were more responsive to the dividend and capital gains tax cuts in 2003. Analyzing CEO-firm matching based on financial experience, we find that financial expert CEOs tend to be hired by more mature firms. Our results are consistent with employment histories of CEOs being relevant for corporate policies. However, we cannot formally rule out that our findings are partly explained by endogenous CEO-firm matching.

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Implications of power: When the CEO can pressure the CFO to bias reports

Henry Friedman
Journal of Accounting and Economics, August 2014, Pages 117–141

Abstract:
Building on archival, anecdotal, and survey evidence on managers' roles in accounting manipulations, I develop an agency model to examine the effects of a CEO's power to pressure a CFO to bias a performance measure, like earnings. This power has implications for incentive compensation, reporting quality, firm value, and information rents. Predictions from the model provide potential explanations for the differing results from recent empirical studies on the impact of regulatory interventions like SOX and the extent to which the CEO's or CFO's incentives significantly impact on earnings management. The model also identifies conditions under which either a powerful or a non-powerful CEO can extract rents, which can help explain mixed empirical results on the association between CEO power and “excessive” compensation.

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Debtholder Responses to Shareholder Activism: Evidence from Hedge Fund Interventions

Jayanthi Sunder, Shyam Sunder & Wan Wongsunwai
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the effect of shareholder activism on debtholders by examining a sample of bank loans for firms targeted by activist hedge funds. We compare loan spreads before and after intervention and show the effects of heterogeneous shareholder actions. Spreads increase when shareholder activism relies on the market for corporate control or financial restructuring. In contrast, spreads decrease when activists address managerial entrenchment. Furthermore, the effects are more pronounced when pre-existing governance mechanisms are weak. Our findings suggest that shareholder activism does not necessarily exacerbate bondholder-shareholder conflicts of interest and highlight the role of activism in aligning investors.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Minors

Low-Skilled Immigration and Parenting Investments of College-Educated Mothers in the United States: Evidence from Time-Use Data

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Almudena Sevilla
Journal of Human Resources, Summer 2014, Pages 509-539

Abstract:
This paper uses several decades of U.S. time-diary surveys to assess the impact of low-skilled immigration, through lower prices for commercial childcare, on parental time investments. Using an instrumental variables approach that accounts for the endogenous location of immigrants, we find that low-skilled immigration to the United States has contributed to substantial reductions in the time allocated to basic childcare by college-educated mothers of non-school-aged children. However, these mothers have not reduced the time allocated to more stimulating educational and recreational activities with their children. Understanding the factors driving parental-time investments on children is crucial from a child-development perspective.

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Home with Mom: The Effects of Stay-at-Home Parents on Children's Long-Run Educational Outcomes

Eric Bettinger, Torbjørn Hægeland & Mari Rege
Journal of Labor Economics, July 2014, Pages 443-467

Abstract:
In 1998 the Norwegian government introduced a program that increased parents' incentives to stay home with children under the age of 3. Many eligible children had older siblings, and we investigate how this program affected the long-run educational outcomes of the older siblings. Using comprehensive administrative data, we estimate a difference-in-differences model that exploits differences in older siblings' exposures to the program. We find a significant positive treatment effect on older siblings' tenth-grade GPA, and this effect seems to be largely driven by mother's reduced labor force participation and not by changes in family income or father's labor force participation.

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The Schooling of Offspring and the Survival of Parents

Esther Friedman & Robert Mare
Demography, August 2014, Pages 1271-1293

Abstract:
Contemporary stratification research on developed societies usually views the intergenerational transmission of educational advantage as a one-way effect from parent to child. However, parents' investment in their offspring's schooling may yield significant returns for parents themselves in later life. For instance, well-educated offspring have greater knowledge of health and technology to share with their parents and more financial means to provide for them than do their less-educated counterparts. We use data from the 1992-2006 Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to examine whether adult offspring's educational attainments are associated with parents' survival in the United States. We show that adult offspring's educational attainments have independent effects on their parents' mortality, even after controlling for parents' own socioeconomic resources. This relationship is more pronounced for deaths that are linked to behavioral factors: most notably, chronic lower respiratory disease and lung cancer. Furthermore, at least part of the association between offspring's schooling and parents' survival may be explained by parents' health behaviors, including smoking and physical activity. These findings suggest that one way to influence the health of the elderly is through their offspring. To harness the full value of schooling for health, then, a family and multigenerational perspective is needed.

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Pacifiers Disrupt Adults' Responses to Infants' Emotions

Magdalena Rychlowska et al.
Basic and Applied Social Psychology, July/August 2014, Pages 299-308

Abstract:
Research shows that pacifiers disrupt infants' mimicry of facial expressions. This experiment examines whether pacifiers interfere with caretakers' ability to mimic infants' emotions. Adults saw photographs of infants with or without a pacifier. When infants had pacifiers, perceivers showed reduced EMG activity to infants' smiles. Smiles of infants using a pacifier were also rated as less happy than smiles depicted without a pacifier. The same pattern was observed for expressions of distress: adults rated infants presented with pacifiers as less sad than infants without pacifiers. We discuss deleterious effects of pacifier use for the perceiver's resonance with a child's emotions.

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Heightened Maternal Separation Anxiety in the Postpartum: The Role of Socioeconomic Disadvantage

Amanda Cooklin et al.
Journal of Family Issues, September 2014, Pages 1497-1519

Abstract:
Maternal separation anxiety (MSA) refers to feelings of anxiety elicited in a mother during separation from her infant. The role of social and structural disadvantage in the etiology of high MSA has been overlooked. Secondary analysis of data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (N = 3,897) revealed that compared to socioeconomically advantaged women, women of low socioeconomic position had a fourfold increased odds of reporting high (>80th percentile) MSA (odds ratio = 4.37, 95% confidence interval = 3.24-5.89), even when maternal and infant characteristics were controlled for. Inadequate social support and residing in a poor quality neighborhood were also significantly associated with high MSA in adjusted analyses. These findings indicate that high MSA is more common in socioeconomically disadvantaged women and might be a response to adverse circumstances. Mothers' experience of, and reasons for, MSA needs to be considered in policy formulation about parental leave and postpartum employment, particularly for disadvantaged mothers.

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Childhood Sexual Abuse and Later-Life Economic Consequences

Alan Barrett, Yumiko Kamiya & Vincent O' Sullivan
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The impact of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) on later-life health outcomes has been studied extensively and links with depression, anxiety and self-harm have been established. However, there has been relatively little research undertaken on the possible impact of CSA on later-life economic outcomes. Here, we explore whether older people who report having experienced CSA have weaker labour force attachment and lower incomes compared to other people. We use data from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) which is a nationally-representative survey of people aged 50 and over. We find that male victims of CSA are almost three times more likely to be out of the labour force due to sickness and disability. They also have significantly lower incomes and are more likely to live alone. These effects remain even when we control for childhood economic circumstances, other adverse childhood events, current mental health difficulties and negative health behaviors. We do not find any effects for female victims. Among the policy implications are the need to be more aware of the complex effects of CSA when designing labour market activation strategies such as training for the unemployed. The results are also relevant in the legal context where compensation awards are determined.

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Neural plasticity in fathers of human infants

Pilyoung Kim et al.
Social Neuroscience, September/October 2014, Pages 522-535

Abstract:
Fathering plays an important role in infants' socioemotional and cognitive development. Previous studies have identified brain regions that are important for parenting behavior in human mothers. However, the neural basis of parenting in human fathers is largely unexplored. In the current longitudinal study, we investigated structural changes in fathers' brains during the first 4 months postpartum using voxel-based morphometry analysis. Biological fathers (n = 16) with full-term, healthy infants were scanned at 2-4 weeks postpartum (time 1) and at 12-16 weeks postpartum (time 2). Fathers exhibited increase in gray matter (GM) volume in several neural regions involved in parental motivation, including the hypothalamus, amygdala, striatum, and lateral prefrontal cortex. On the other hand, fathers exhibited decreases in GM volume in the orbitofrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, and insula. The findings provide evidence for neural plasticity in fathers' brains. We also discuss the distinct patterns of associations among neural changes, postpartum mood symptoms, and parenting behaviors among fathers.

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Associations Between Early Life Stress and Gene Methylation in Children

Sarah Romens et al.
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
Children exposed to extreme stress are at heightened risk for developing mental and physical disorders. However, little is known about mechanisms underlying these associations in humans. An emerging insight is that children's social environments change gene expression, which contributes to biological vulnerabilities for behavioral problems. Epigenetic changes in the glucocorticoid receptor gene, a critical component of stress regulation, were examined in whole blood from 56 children aged 11-14 years. Children exposed to physical maltreatment had greater methylation within exon 1F in the NR3C1 promoter region of the gene compared to nonmaltreated children, including the putative NGFI-A (nerve growth factor) binding site. These results highlight molecular mechanisms linking childhood stress with biological changes that may lead to mental and physical disorders.

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Infant stress exposure produces persistent enhancement of fear learning across development

Jennifer Quinn, Rachel Skipper & Dragana Claflin
Developmental Psychobiology, July 2014, Pages 1008-1016

Abstract:
In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that early life stress experiences persistently impact subsequent physiological, cognitive, and emotional responses. In cases of trauma, these early experiences can result in anxiety disorders such as phobias and posttraumatic stress disorder. In the present paper, we examined the effects of infant footshock stress exposure at postnatal day (PND) 17 on subsequent contextual fear conditioning at postnatal days 18 (Experiment 1), 24 (Experiment 2), or 90 (Experiment 3). In each experiment, PND17 footshock stress exposure enhanced later fear conditioning, indicating that the stress enhancement of fear learning (SEFL) persists throughout development. Memory for the original stress exposure context was gradually forgotten, with significant fear expression evident at PND20, and a complete lack of fear expression in that same context at PND90. These data suggest that the stress-enhancing component of infant fear learning is dissociable from the infant contextual fear memory per se. In other words, early life stress produces persistent effects on subsequent cognition that are independent of the memory for that early life event.

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The presence of ADHD: Spillovers between siblings

Sanni Nørgaard Breining
Economics Letters, September 2014, Pages 469-473

Abstract:
This paper uses high quality register-data to study the spillover effects on firstborns from having a younger sibling suffering from ADHD. Using OLS and cousin fixed effects analyses it is found that the educational outcomes of healthy firstborn children are significantly reduced by the presence of a disordered sibling.

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Delinquency in Adolescent Girls: Using a Confluence Approach to Understand the Influences of Parents and Peers

Angela Henneberger et al.
Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Determining the interdependence of family and peer influences on the development of delinquency is critical to defining and implementing effective interventions. This study explored the longitudinal relationship among harsh punishment, positive parenting, peer delinquency, and adolescent delinquency using data from a sub-sample of the Pittsburgh Girls Study. Participants were 622 adolescent girls (42% European American, 53% African American); families living in low-income neighborhoods were oversampled. After controlling for the effects of race, living in a single parent household, and receipt of public assistance, harsh punishment and peer delinquency in early adolescence were positively related to delinquency in mid-adolescence. No significant main effects of positive parenting or interaction effects between parenting and peer delinquency were observed. Thus, the effects of harsh parenting and peer delinquency are independent and perhaps additive, rather than interdependent. Results indicate the continued importance of targeting both parenting and peer relationships to prevent delinquency in adolescent girls.

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A randomized controlled trial of brief coparenting and relationship interventions during the transition to parenthood

Brian Doss et al.
Journal of Family Psychology, August 2014, Pages 483-494

Abstract:
The transition to parenthood has been repeatedly identified as a stressful period, with couples reporting difficulties in domains of individual, coparenting, and relationship functioning. Moreover, these difficulties have been shown to impact children's development. To buffer against these difficulties, numerous effective parenting, couple, and combined interventions have been developed; however, these interventions are typically lengthy, which limits their potential for dissemination. Therefore, in the present study, we developed and tested separate 6-hr interventions that focused exclusively on improving either coparenting or relationship functioning. In a randomized control trial, 90 heterosexual couples (180 individuals) were randomly assigned to an information control group, a coparenting intervention, or a relationship intervention and assessed on 7 occasions during the 2 years following birth. Results revealed that women and high-risk men in both the couple and coparenting interventions showed fewer declines in relationship satisfaction (Cohen's d = 0.53-0.99) and other areas of relationship functioning. Women also reported improved coparenting in both intervention groups (Cohen's d = 0.47-1.06). Additionally, women in both interventions experienced less perceived stress during the first year after birth. Given similar effects of the 2 interventions on coparenting and relationship functioning, future dissemination may be enhanced by delivery of coparenting interventions, as coparenting (compared with relationship) interventions seem to attract more interest from couples and are likely easier to integrate into existing services.

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Effects of intranasal oxytocin administration on memory for infant cues: Moderation by childhood emotional maltreatment

Ritu Bhandari et al.
Social Neuroscience, September/October 2014, Pages 536-547

Abstract:
Oxytocin has been implicated in parent-infant attachment and social recognition. With respect to emotion recognition memory, both memory-enhancing and impairing effects have been observed, suggesting an influence of individual factors. We assessed the effects of oxytocin on memory for infant cues, and whether these effects are moderated by self-reported childhood emotional maltreatment. Nulliparous females (N = 102) participated in a randomized, double-blind, between-subjects study with intranasal oxytocin or placebo administration. Participants' memory was tested using the Baby Social Reward Task, where participants were asked to select the happier infant from a pair of two infants based on the information that they received about the infants' mood in the previous phase. Participants reporting more childhood emotional maltreatment were less accurate in this task after inhaling oxytocin. Our findings add to a growing body of literature showing that the effects of intranasal oxytocin on memory and social behavior are moderated by adverse early life experiences.

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Mothers More Altruistic than Fathers, but Only When Bearing Responsibility Alone: Evidence from Parental Choice Experiments in Tanzania

Jana Vyrastekova et al.
PLoS ONE, June 2014

Abstract:
Evolutionary theory predicts humans to be more altruistic towards genetically more closely related kin. Because fathers face uncertainty about the relation to their children, the asymmetric parental altruism hypothesis predicts mothers to provide a higher share of parental care than fathers. We tested this hypothesis using parental choice experiments in rural Tanzania, in which fathers and mothers could choose between an outcome that benefited themselves and an outcome that benefited their children. When a parent was solely responsible for the outcome, mothers chose more altruistic than fathers. However when the choice situation was changed into a coordination game in which responsibility was shared with the partner, the sex difference disappeared. Fathers then chose somewhat more altruistic, but mothers substantially less. Our findings thus partly support the asymmetric parental altruism hypothesis, but they also show that parental altruism is influenced by the context in which choices are taken.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Something to do

The Increasing Complementarity between Cognitive and Social Skills

Catherine Weinberger
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Data linking 1972 and 1992 adolescent skill endowments to adult outcomes reveals increasing complementarity between cognitive and social skills. In fact, previously noted growth in demand for cognitive skills affected only individuals with strong endowments of both social and cognitive skills. These findings are corroborated using Census and CPS data matched with DOT job task measures; employment in and earnings premia to occupations requiring high levels of both cognitive and social skill grew substantially compared with occupations that require only one or neither type of skill, and this emerging feature of the labor market has persisted into the new millennium.

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Do Large Modern Retailers Pay Premium Wages?

Brianna Cardiff-Hicks, Francine Lafontaine & Kathryn Shaw
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
With malls, franchise strips and big-box retailers increasingly dotting the landscape, there is concern that middle-class jobs in manufacturing in the U.S. are being replaced by minimum wage jobs in retail. Retail jobs have spread, while manufacturing jobs have shrunk in number. In this paper, we characterize the wages that have accompanied the growth in retail. We show that wage rates in the retail sector rise markedly with firm size and with establishment size. These increases are halved when we control for worker fixed effects, suggesting that there is sorting of better workers into larger firms. Also, higher ability workers get promoted to the position of manager, which is associated with higher pay. We conclude that the growth in modern retail, characterized by larger chains of larger establishments with more levels of hierarchy, is raising wage rates relative to traditional mom-and-pop retail stores.

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Making Do with Less: Working Harder During Recessions

Edward Lazear, Kathryn Shaw & Christopher Stanton
Stanford Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
Why did productivity rise during recent recessions? One possibility is that average worker quality increased. A second is that each incumbent worker produced more. The second effect is termed "making do with less." Using data from 2006 to 2010 on individual worker productivity from a large firm, these effects can be measured and separated. For this firm, most of the gain in productivity during the recession was a result of increased effort. Additionally, the increase in effort is correlated with the increase in the local unemployment rate, presumably reflecting the costs of losing a job.

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The minimum wage from a two-sided perspective

Alessio Brown, Christian Merkl & Dennis Snower
Economics Letters, September 2014, Pages 389-391

Abstract:
This paper sheds new light on the effects of the minimum wage on employment from a two-sided theoretical perspective, in which firms' job offer and workers' job acceptance decisions are disentangled. Minimum wages reduce job offer incentives and increase job acceptance incentives. We show that sufficiently low minimum wages may do no harm to employment, since their job-offer disincentives are countervailed by their job-acceptance incentives.

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Employee Satisfaction, Labor Market Flexibility, and Stock Returns Around The World

Alex Edmans, Lucius Li & Chendi Zhang
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
We study the relationship between employee satisfaction and abnormal stock returns around the world, using lists of the "Best Companies to Work For" in 14 countries. We show that employee satisfaction is associated with positive abnormal returns in countries with high labor market flexibility, such as the U.S. and U.K., but not in countries with low labor market flexibility, such as Germany. These results are consistent with high employee satisfaction being a valuable tool for recruitment, retention, and motivation in flexible labor markets, where firms face fewer constraints on hiring and firing. In contrast, in regulated labor markets, legislation already provides minimum standards for worker welfare and so additional expenditure may exhibit diminishing returns. The results have implications for the differential profitability of socially responsible investing ("SRI") strategies around the world. In particular, they emphasize the importance of taking institutional features into account when forming such strategies.

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The Economic Aftermath of Resource Booms: Evidence from Boomtowns in the American West

Grant Jacobsen & Dominic Parker
Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current U.S. oil and gas boom is injecting labour, capital, and revenue into communities near reserves. Will these communities be cursed with lower long run incomes in the wake of the boom? We study the oil boom-and-bust cycle of the 1970s and 1980s to gain insights. Using annual data on drilling to identify western boom-and-bust counties, we find substantial positive local employment and income effects during the boom. In the aftermath of the bust, however, we find that incomes per capita decreased and unemployment compensation payments increased relative to what they would have been if the boom had not occurred.

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Taxes and Entrepreneurship in OECD Countries

Mina Baliamoune-Lutz
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
I examine how taxes and tax progressivity affect two different types of entrepreneurship - established business ownership and nascent entrepreneurship - in a large group of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, using 2000-2009 macro-level Global Entrepreneurship Monitor data. Empirical evidence from Arellano-Bond generalized method of moments estimation suggests that higher tax progressivity exerts a negative influence on nascent enterprises but appears to have no impact on established business ownership. Changes in marginal and average tax rates are found to have no significant influence on either type of entrepreneurship. The most important contribution of the article is the comparison of tax impacts on actual and nascent entrepreneurship rates.

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Getting to Work: Experimental Evidence on Job Search and Transportation Costs

David Phillips
Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do transportation costs constrain job search in urban low wage labor markets? I test this question by providing transit subsidies to randomly selected clients of a non-profit employment agency. The subsidies generate a large, short-run increase in search intensity for a transit subsidy group relative to a control group receiving standard job search services but no transit subsidy. In the first two weeks, individuals assigned to the transit subsidy group apply and interview for 19 percent more jobs than those not receiving subsidies. The subsidies generate the greatest increase in search intensity for individuals living far from employment opportunities. Some suggestive evidence indicates that greater search intensity translates into shorter unemployment durations. These results provide experimental evidence in support of the theory that search costs over space can depress job search intensity, contributing to persistent urban poverty in neighborhoods far from job opportunities.

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STEM Graduates, Human Capital Externalities, and Wages in the U.S.

John Winters
Regional Science and Urban Economics, September 2014, Pages 190-198

Abstract:
Previous research suggests that the local stock of human capital creates positive externalities within local labor markets and plays an important role in regional economic development. However, there is still considerable uncertainty over what types of human capital are most important. Both national and local policymakers in the U.S. have called for efforts to increase the stock of college graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, but data availability has thus far prevented researchers from directly connecting STEM education to human capital externalities. This paper uses the 2009-2011 American Community Survey to examine the external effects of college graduates in STEM and non-STEM fields on the wages of other workers in the same metropolitan area. I find that both types of college graduates create positive wage externalities, but STEM graduates create much larger externalities.

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The Micro and Macro of Disappearing Routine Jobs: A Flows Approach

Guido Matias Cortes et al.
NBER Working Paper, July 2014

Abstract:
The U.S. labor market has become increasingly polarized since the 1980s, with the share of employment in middle-wage occupations shrinking over time. This job polarization process has been associated with the disappearance of per capita employment in occupations focused on routine tasks. We use matched individual-level data from the CPS to study labor market flows into and out of routine occupations and determine how this disappearance has played out at the "micro" and "macro" levels. At the macro level, we determine which changes in transition rates account for the disappearance of routine employment since the 1980s. We find that changes in three transition rate categories are of primary importance: (i) that from unemployment to employment in routine occupations, (ii) that from labor force non-participation to routine employment, and (iii) that from routine employment to non-participation. At the micro level, we study how these transition rates have changed since job polarization, and the extent to which these changes are accounted for by changes in demographic composition or changes in the behavior of individuals with particular demographic characteristics. We find that the preponderance of changes is due to the propensity of individuals to make such transitions, and relatively little due to demographics. Moreover, we find that changes in the transition propensities of the young are of primary importance in accounting for the fall in routine employment.

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Comparing Labor Supply Elasticities in Europe and the United States: New Results

Olivier Bargain, Kristian Orsini & Andreas Peichl
Journal of Human Resources, Summer 2014, Pages 723-838

Abstract:
We suggest the first large-scale international comparison of labor supply elasticities for 17 European countries and the United States using a harmonized empirical approach. We find that own-wage elasticities are relatively small and more uniform across countries than previously considered. Nonetheless, such differences do exist, and are found not to arise from different tax-benefit systems, wage/hour levels, or demographic compositions across countries, suggesting genuine differences in work preferences across countries. Furthermore, three other findings are consistent across countries: The extensive margin dominates the intensive margin; for singles, this leads to larger responses in low-income groups; and income elasticities are extremely small.

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The Decline of Drudgery and the Paradox of Hard Work

Brendan Epstein & Miles Kimball
Federal Reserve Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
We develop a theory that focuses on the general equilibrium and long-run macroeconomic consequences of trends in job utility. Given secular increases in job utility, work hours per capita can remain approximately constant over time even if the income effect of higher wages on labor supply exceeds the substitution effect. In addition, secular improvements in job utility can be substantial relative to welfare gains from ordinary technological progress. These two implications are connected by an equation flowing from optimal hours choices: improvements in job utility that have a significant effect on labor supply tend to have large welfare effects.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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