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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pick your poison

Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Prescription Medication Use In Medicare Part D

Ashley Bradford & David Bradford

Health Affairs, July 2016, Pages 1230-1236

Abstract:
Legalization of medical marijuana has been one of the most controversial areas of state policy change over the past twenty years. However, little is known about whether medical marijuana is being used clinically to any significant degree. Using data on all prescriptions filled by Medicare Part D enrollees from 2010 to 2013, we found that the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative fell significantly, once a medical marijuana law was implemented. National overall reductions in Medicare program and enrollee spending when states implemented medical marijuana laws were estimated to be $165.2 million per year in 2013. The availability of medical marijuana has a significant effect on prescribing patterns and spending in Medicare Part D.

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Minimum wages and youth binge drinking

Omer Hoke & Chad Cotti

Empirical Economics, August 2016, Pages 363-381

Abstract:
Binge drinking is associated with many health problems, including unintentional injuries, intentional injuries (e.g., domestic violence, sexual assault), unintended pregnancy, and liver disease. Moreover, high-volume episodic binge drinking is very prevalent among teenagers and young adults. Given that approximately 90 % of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the USA is in the form of binge drinking (Murphy et al. in Addict Res Theory 20(6):456-465, 2012), understanding the determinants of binge drinking behavior, particularly among youth, is important from the perspective of health and policy. In this paper, we explore the relationship between youth binge drinking and an unanticipated determinate of this behavior, minimum wage laws. Using a fixed effects regression model, we observe a positive relationship between minimum wage increases and binge drinking among teenagers. We find that, after accounting for demographic characteristics, different types of risky behaviors, excise tax, state and time fixed effects, and time-varying state effects, a $1 increase in minimum wage increases binge drinking among teenagers by approximately 9 %. Our results support recent findings that minimum wage increases are positively associated with alcohol-related accidents among teenagers (Adam et al. in Rev Econ Stat 94(3):828-840, 2012). Findings suggest that authorities should consider the unexpected impacts that minimum wage increase may have on alcohol consumption among teens and consider parallel policies to help mitigate potential negative consequences.

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Alcohol abstention in early adulthood and premature mortality: Do early life factors, social support, and health explain this association?

Rebecca Evans-Polce, Jeremy Staff & Jennifer Maggs

Social Science & Medicine, August 2016, Pages 71-79

Objective: Adult alcohol abstainers have a heightened risk of premature mortality compared to light-to-moderate drinkers. We examine three plausible explanations, other than lack of alcohol, for this observed difference: Abstainers 1) have early life disadvantages that undermine long-term health; 2) lack social support; 3) are less healthy.

Method: In the National Child Development Study, an ongoing national British cohort study of individuals born in 1958, we investigated whether early life disadvantages, lack of social support, and poor physical health reduce or eliminate the elevated risk of mortality through age 51 among those abstaining from alcohol at age 33. Using Cox proportional hazard models in a stepwise approach we examined whether the alcohol-mortality relationship changed when potential confounders were included.

Results: The risk of mortality by age 51 was greater among age-33 abstainers compared to light drinkers (Hazard Ratio [HR] = 2.18; 95% CI = 1.40, 3.40). Including early life disadvantages and social support in the hazard models did not alter these associations (HR = 2.12; 95% CI = 1.27, 3.54). Including physical health in the model resulted in a 25% reduction in risk of death among abstainers, though the difference in risk remained statistically significant (HR = 1.75; 95% CI = 1.04, 2.94).

Conclusions: Abstaining from alcohol in early adulthood, in comparison to light drinking, predicts increased risk for premature mortality, even after accounting for numerous early and young adult confounders. Future research should examine potential moderators of this association.

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Evidence Suggests That The ACA's Tobacco Surcharges Reduced Insurance Take-Up And Did Not Increase Smoking Cessation

Abigail Friedman, William Schpero & Susan Busch

Health Affairs, July 2016, Pages 1176-1183

Abstract:
To account for tobacco users' excess health care costs and encourage cessation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed insurers to impose a surcharge on tobacco users' premiums for plans offered on the health insurance exchanges, or Marketplaces. Low-income tax credits for Marketplace coverage were based on premiums for non-tobacco users, which means that these credits did not offset any surcharge costs. Thus, this policy greatly increased out-of-pocket premiums for many tobacco users. Using data for 2011-14 from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, we examined the effect of tobacco surcharges on insurance status and smoking cessation in the first year of the exchanges' implementation, among adults most likely to purchase insurance from them. Relative to smokers who faced no surcharges, smokers facing medium or high surcharges had significantly reduced coverage (reductions of 4.3 percentage points and 11.6 percentage points, respectively), but no significant differences in smoking cessation. In contrast, those facing low surcharges showed significantly less smoking cessation. Taken together, these findings suggest that tobacco surcharges conflicted with a major goal of the ACA - increased financial protection - without increasing smoking cessation. States should consider these potential effects when deciding whether to limit surcharges to less than the federal maximum.

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The Minimum Legal Drinking Age and Morbidity in the US

Christopher Carpenter & Carlos Dobkin

Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We provide the first evaluation of the effect of the US minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) on nonfatal injuries. Using administrative records from several states and a regression discontinuity approach, we document that inpatient hospital admissions and emergency department (ED) visits increase by 8.4 and 71.3 per 10,000 person-years, respectively, at age 21. These effects are due mainly to an increase in the rate at which young men experience accidental injuries, alcohol overdoses, and injuries inflicted by others. Our results suggest that the literature's disproportionate focus on mortality leads to a significant underestimation the benefits of tighter alcohol control.

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E-Cigarettes and Future Cigarette Use

Jessica Barrington-Trimis et al.

Pediatrics, July 2016

Methods: The Children's Health Study is a prospectively followed cohort in Southern California. Data on e-cigarette use were collected in 11th and 12th grade (mean age = 17.4); follow-up data on tobacco product use were collected an average of 16 months later from never-smoking e-cigarette users at initial evaluation (n = 146) and from a sample of never-smoking, never e-cigarette users (n = 152) frequency matched to e-cigarette users on gender, ethnicity, and grade.

Results: Cigarette initiation during follow-up was reported by 40.4% of e-cigarette users (n = 59) and 10.5% of never users (n = 16). E-cigarette users had 6.17 times (95% confidence interval: 3.30-11.6) the odds of initiating cigarettes as never e-cigarette users. Results were robust to adjustment for potential confounders and in analyses restricted to never users of any combustible tobacco product. Associations were stronger in adolescents with no intention of smoking at initial evaluation. E-cigarette users were also more likely to initiate use of any combustible product (odds ratio = 4.98; 95% confidence interval: 2.37-10.4), including hookah, cigars, or pipes.

Conclusions: E-cigarette use in never-smoking youth may increase risk of subsequent initiation of cigarettes and other combustible products during the transition to adulthood when the purchase of tobacco products becomes legal. Stronger associations in participants with no intention of smoking suggests that e-cigarette use was not simply a marker for individuals who would have gone on to smoke regardless of e-cigarette use.

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Minimum Ages of Legal Access for Tobacco in the United States From 1863 to 2015

Dorie Apollonio & Stanton Glantz

American Journal of Public Health, July 2016, Pages 1200-1207

Abstract:
In the United States, state laws establish a minimum age of legal access (MLA) for most tobacco products at 18 years. We reviewed the history of these laws with internal tobacco industry documents and newspaper archives from 1860 to 2014. The laws appeared in the 1880s; by 1920, half of states had set MLAs of at least 21 years. After 1920, tobacco industry lobbying eroded them to between 16 and 18 years. By the 1980s, the tobacco industry viewed restoration of higher MLAs as a critical business threat. The industry's political advocacy reflects its assessment that recruiting youth smokers is critical to its survival. The increasing evidence on tobacco addiction suggests that restoring MLAs to 21 years would reduce smoking initiation and prevalence, particularly among those younger than 18 years.

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Breaks in Play: Do They Achieve Intended Aims?

Alexander Blaszczynski et al.

Journal of Gambling Studies, June 2016, Pages 789-800

Abstract:
Breaks in play represent a responsible gambling strategy designed to disrupt states of dissociation and enhance the likelihood of drawing attention to a player's session behaviour and expenditure with respect to time and money. The aim of the break in play is to motivate the player to modify or cease gambling so the activity remains within affordable levels. The aim of this study was to investigate whether imposed breaks in play in the absence of accompanying warning messages were effective in reducing cravings. Participants (141 university students) were randomly allocated to one of three conditions: 15 min computer simulated Black Jack play followed by no break, a 3 or 8 min break in play. Participants were administered a battery of measures to assess problem gambling card play, cravings, and dissociation to assess the effects of length of break on cravings. Results indicated that cravings increased rather than decreased with imposed breaks in play, and that the strength of cravings were higher following the eight- compared to 3-min break. It was concluded that breaks in play in isolation might produce counterproductive, unintended, and even perverse effects. The policy implications for responsible gambling strategies is that breaks in play ought to be accompanied with warning and/or personal appraisal messages if optimal effects in reducing within session gambling expenditure are to be achieved.

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Underreporting of ecstasy use among high school seniors in the US

Joseph Palamar, Katherine Keyes & Charles Cleland

Drug and Alcohol Dependence, August 2016, Pages 279-282

Background: National surveys suggest ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine [MDMA]) use has decreased substantially among adolescents in the US since 2001; however, the recent phenomenon of "Molly" (ecstasy marketed as "pure MDMA") may be leading to underreporting of use as not all users are aware that "Molly" is a form of ecstasy.

Methods: We examined 2014 data from Monitoring the Future, a nationally representative survey of high school seniors in the US (N = 6250, modal age: 18). Three randomly distributed survey forms asked about ecstasy use, and one included "Molly" in the definition. Self-reported lifetime, 12-month, and 30-day ecstasy use were compared to determine whether including "Molly" in the definition was associated with higher prevalence or frequency of use.

Results: The form including "Molly" in the definition had significantly higher prevalence than the two (combined) forms that did not. Lifetime use (8.0% vs. 5.5%) and 12-month use (5.1% vs. 3.6%) were significantly higher with "Molly" in the definition. Lifetime prevalence remained higher with "Molly" in the definition when controlling for correlates of ecstasy use; however, 12-month use did not. Differences in prevalence were associated with lifetime occasions of use, with lower concordance between forms at lower levels of lifetime occasions (e.g., 1-2 times). Survey form was not related to number of times used among more frequent users.

Conclusions: Prevalence of ecstasy use appears to be underestimated when "Molly" is not included in the definition of ecstasy/MDMA. Surveys should include "Molly" in the definition of ecstasy to more adequately assess prevalence of use.

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Decline In Public Substance Use Disorder Treatment Centers Most Serious In Counties With High Shares Of Black Residents

Janet Cummings, Hefei Wen & Michelle Ko

Health Affairs, June 2016, Pages 1036-1044

Abstract:
Previous research has associated declines in health care resources such as hospitals and trauma centers with communities' racial composition. However, little is known about changes in the substance use disorder treatment infrastructure in recent years and the implications for black communities. We used data for the period 2002-10 from the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services to describe changes in the supply of public and private outpatient facilities for substance use disorder treatment, and to determine whether these trends had implications for the geographical availability of these facilities in counties with high percentages of black residents. During the study period the number of publicly owned facilities declined 17.2 percent, whereas the number of private for-profit facilities grew 19.1 percent. At baseline, counties with very high percentages of black residents (that is, more than one standard deviation above the mean) were more likely than counties with less than the mean percentage of black residents to be served by public facilities and were thus disproportionately affected by the overall decline in public facilities. Future research should examine the effect of expanding eligibility for Medicaid on the supply of substance use disorder treatment facilities across diverse communities.

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The Share Price Effect of CVS Health's Announcement to Stop Selling Tobacco: A Comparative Case Study Using Synthetic Controls

Martin Andersen & Sebastian Bauhoff

Forum for Health Economics and Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study how the announcement by CVS Health, a large US-based pharmacy chain, to stop selling tobacco products affected its share price and that of its close competitors, as well as major tobacco companies. Combining event study and synthetic control methodologies we compare measures of CVS's stock market valuation with those of a peer group consisting of large publicly listed firms that are part of Standard & Poor's S&P 500 stock market index. CVS's announcement is associated with a short-term decrease in its share price, whereas close competitors have benefitted from CVS' decision. We also find a negative share price effect for Altria, the largest US domestic tobacco firm. Overall our findings are consistent with markets expecting consumers to shift from CVS to alternative outlets in the short-run, and interpreting CVS' decision to drop tobacco products as signal that other firms may follow suit.

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Social anxiety and alcohol-related sexual victimization: A longitudinal pilot study of college women

Amie Schry, Brenna Maddox & Susan White

Addictive Behaviors, October 2016, Pages 117-120

Objective: We sought to examine social anxiety as a risk factor for alcohol-related sexual victimization among college women. Participants: Women (Time 1: n = 574; Time 2: n = 88) who reported consuming alcohol at least once during the assessment timeframe participated.

Method: Social anxiety, alcohol use, alcohol-related consequences, and sexual victimization were assessed twice, four months apart. Logistic regressions were used to examine social anxiety as a risk factor for alcohol-related sexual victimization at both time points.

Results: Longitudinally, women high in social anxiety were approximately three times more likely to endorse unwanted alcohol-related sexual experiences compared to women with low to moderate social anxiety.

Conclusions: This study suggests social anxiety, a modifiable construct, increases risk for alcohol-related sexual victimization among college women. Implications for clinicians and risk-reduction program developers are discussed.

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Changes in inmates' substance use and dependence from pre-incarceration to one year post-release

June Tangney et al.

Journal of Criminal Justice, September 2016, Pages 228-238

Methods: In Study 1, professionals (n = 162) and laypersons (n = 50) predicted how jail inmates' substance misuse would change from pre-incarceration to post-release. In Study 2, a longitudinal study of 305 jail inmates, we examined actual changes in substance use and dependence from pre-incarceration to the first year post-incarceration, as well as whether changes varied as a function of demographic, criminal justice, treatment, and personality factors.

Results: Professionals and laypersons predicted little change in substance misuse whereas, in fact, inmates' frequency of substance use and dependence decreased substantially from pre-incarceration to post-release. Sharper decreases were observed for inmates who were female, younger, more educated, serving longer sentences, enrolled in substance abuse treatment, high in shame-proneness, and low in criminogenic thinking. Race, first time incarceration, transfer to other correctional facilities, mandated community supervision (probation), and guilt-proneness did not predict changes in substance use or dependence.

Conclusions: Although substance misuse decreased, this remains a population high in need of substance abuse treatment both upon arrest and at one year post-incarceration; 60% of former inmates met at least one DSM-IV criterion for substance dependence at one year post-release.

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Examination of the Divergence in Trends for Adolescent Marijuana Use and Marijuana-Specific Risk Factors in Washington State

Charles Fleming et al.

Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Methods: Data were from 2000 to 2014 biennial Washington State surveys of 10th-grade students. First, we assessed whether associations between marijuana use and marijuana-specific risk factors have weakened over time. Second, we examined whether decreases in alcohol and cigarette use can account for the lack of expected increase in marijuana use prevalence.

Results: Despite stability in marijuana use prevalence, there were increases in marijuana-specific risk factors of low perceived harm, youth favorable attitudes about use, and perceived community attitudes favorable to use. Associations between marijuana use and marijuana use predictors varied little across time; if anything, the positive association between low perceived harm and marijuana use grew stronger. Decreases in prevalence of alcohol and cigarette use largely accounted for stability in marijuana use during a period when marijuana risk factors increased.

Conclusions: Decreases in other types of substance use or in the underlying, common risk for substance use may have mitigated effects of increases in marijuana-specific risk factors.

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Decreased Diversion by Doctor-Shopping for a Reformulated Extended Release Oxycodone Product

Howard Chilcoat et al.

Drug and Alcohol Dependence, August 2016, Pages 221-228

Background: Doctor-shopping (obtaining prescriptions from multiple prescribers/pharmacies) for opioid analgesics produces a supply for diversion and abuse, and represents a major public health issue.

Methods: An open cohort study assessed changes in doctor-shopping in the U.S. for a brand extended release (ER) oxycodone product (OxyContin) and comparator opioids before (July, 2009 to June, 2010) versus after (January, 2011 to June, 2013) introduction of reformulated brand ER oxycodone with abuse-deterrent properties, using IMS LRx longitudinal data covering >150 million patients and 65% of retail U.S. prescriptions.

Results: After its reformulation, the rate of doctor-shopping decreased 50% (for 2+ prescribers/3+ pharmacies) for brand ER oxycodone, but not for comparators. The largest decreases in rates occurred among young adults (73%), those paying with cash (61%) and those receiving the highest available dose (62%), with a 90% decrease when stratifying by all three characteristics. The magnitude of doctor-shopping reductions increased with increasing number of prescribers/pharmacies (eg, 75% reduction for ?2 prescribers/ ? 4 pharmacies).

Conclusions: The rate of doctor-shopping for brand ER oxycodone decreased substantially after its reformulation, which did not occur for other prescription opioids. The largest reductions in doctor-shopping occurred with characteristics associated with higher abuse risk such as youth, cash payment and high dose, and with more specific thresholds of doctor-shopping. A higher prescriber and/or pharmacy threshold also increased the magnitude of the decrease, suggesting that it better captured the effect of the reformulation on actual doctor-shoppers.

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History of abuse and risky sex among substance users: The role of rejection sensitivity and the need to belong

Jacqueline Woerner et al.

Addictive Behaviors, November 2016, Pages 73-78

Abstract:
This study investigates abuse and rejection sensitivity as important correlates of risky sexual behavior in the context of substance use. Victims of abuse may experience heightened sensitivity to acute social rejection and consequently engage in risky sexual behavior in an attempt to restore belonging. Data were collected from 258 patients at a substance use treatment facility in Washington, D.C. Participants' history of abuse and risky sexual behavior were assessed via self-report. To test the mediating role of rejection sensitivity, participants completed a social rejection task (Cyberball) and responded to a questionnaire assessing their reaction to the rejection experience. General risk-taking propensity was assessed using a computerized lab measure. Abuse was associated with increased rejection sensitivity (B = 0.124, SE = 0.040, p = 0.002), which was in turn associated with increased risky sex (B = 0.06, SE = 0.028, p = 0.03) (indirect effect = 0.0075, SE = 0.0043; 95% CI [0.0006, 0.0178]), but not with other indices of risk-taking. These findings suggest that rejection sensitivity may be an important mechanism underlying the relationship between abuse and risky sexual behavior among substance users. These effects do not extend to other risk behaviors, supporting the notion that risky sex associated with abuse represents a means to interpersonal connection rather than a general tendency toward self-defeating behavior.

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How MDMA flows across the USA: Evidence from price data

Siddharth Chandra, Yan-Liang Yu & Vinay Bihani

Global Crime, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study uses wholesale prices of MDMA for 59 cities in the USA published by the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) over the period of 2002-2011 to identify trafficking patterns of MDMA. Price differentials and correlations between pairs of cities are used to infer the presence of a link and the direction of flow of MDMA. The presence of inward and outward links is used to categorise each city as a 'source', 'destination', 'transit', or 'weakly integrated' city. The analysis identified low prices close to the Canadian and Mexican borders, in a number of cities such as Chicago, Miami, New York City, a trio of cities in the Carolinas, and along the West Coast. A number of these cities are linked to large numbers of other cities, indicating hub- or source-like status. The findings generate insights into the status of major US cities in the MDMA trafficking network.

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Trends in cannabis use disorders among racial/ethnic population groups in the United States

Li-Tzy Wu, He Zhu & Marvin Swartz

Drug and Alcohol Dependence, August 2016, Pages 181-190

Background:
Minority groups generally experience more disparities than whites in behavioral healthcare use. The population of racial/ethnic groups is growing faster than whites. Given increased concerns of cannabis use (CU) and its associations with health conditions, we examined national trends in cannabis use disorder (CUD) among adults aged ?18 by race/ethnicity.

Methods: Data were from the 2005-2013 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (N = 340,456). We compared CU patterns and the conditional prevalence of CUD among cannabis users by race/ethnicity to understand racial/ethnic variations in CUD.

Results: Approximately 1.5% of adults met criteria for a CUD in the past year. Regardless of survey year, cannabis dependence was more common than cannabis abuse, representing 66% of adults with a CUD. Across racial/ethnic groups, the prevalence of cannabis abuse and dependence remained stable during 2005-2013. In the total adult sample, the odds of weekly CU, monthly CU, and cannabis dependence were greater among blacks, native-Americans, and mixed-race adults than whites. Among cannabis users, the odds of cannabis abuse and dependence were greater among blacks, native-Americans, and Hispanics than whites. Logistic regression controlling for age, sex, education, and survey year indicated an increased trend in monthly CU and weekly CU in the total sample and among past-year cannabis users. Younger age, male sex, and low education were associated with increased odds of cannabis dependence.

Conclusions: The large sample provides robust information that indicates a need for research to monitor CUD and identify culturally appropriate interventions especially for targeting minority populations.

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The Influence of Geography and Measurement in Estimating Cigarette Price Responsiveness

Michael Pesko et al.

NBER Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
We use data from the 2006-07 and 2010-11 waves of the Tobacco Use Supplement of the Current Population Survey to calculate cigarette price elasticities that compensate for within-state cigarette prices, which includes variation from the local tax environment. We use four state-level cigarette price measures and two sub-state-level cigarette price measures. For the two local price measures, we exploit month specific changes in these two prices in 446 sub-state areas of the United States. We document substantial variation in within-state prices, and we calculate that this variation approximately triples estimates of cigarette price responsiveness compared to using state-level prices. When using local prices, we calculate that a 10% rise in cigarette prices reduces cigarette consumption by a mean of 2.5%, which ranges from a 1.7% reduction at a price level $3 to a 5.6% reduction at a price level of $9. Our results suggest an important role for the local tax environment in studies of cigarette price responsiveness.

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Bayesian inference for the distribution of grams of marijuana in a joint

Greg Ridgeway & Beau Kilmer

Drug and Alcohol Dependence, August 2016, Pages 175-180

Background: The average amount of marijuana in a joint is unknown, yet this figure is a critical quantity for creating credible measures of marijuana consumption. It is essential for projecting tax revenues post-legalization, estimating the size of illicit marijuana markets, and learning about how much marijuana users are consuming in order to understand health and behavioral consequences.

Methods: Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring data collected between 2000 and 2010 contain relevant information on 10,628 marijuana transactions, joints and loose marijuana purchases, including the city in which the purchase occurred and the price paid for the marijuana. Using the Brown-Silverman drug pricing model to link marijuana price and weight, we are able to infer the distribution of grams of marijuana in a joint and provide a Bayesian posterior distribution for the mean weight of marijuana in a joint.

Results: We estimate that the mean weight of marijuana in a joint is 0.32 g (95% Bayesian posterior interval: 0.30-0.35).

Conclusions: Our estimate of the mean weight of marijuana in a joint is lower than figures commonly used to make estimates of marijuana consumption. These estimates can be incorporated into drug policy discussions to produce better understanding about illicit marijuana markets, the size of potential legalized marijuana markets, and health and behavior outcomes.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Out of energy

Retraining Investment for U.S. Transition from Coal to Solar Photovoltaic Employment

Edward Louie & Joshua Pearce

Energy Economics, June 2016, Pages 295–302

Abstract:
Although coal remains the largest source of electricity in the U.S., a combination of factors is driving a decrease in profitability and employment in the coal-sector. Meanwhile, the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry is growing rapidly in the U.S. and generating many jobs that represent employment opportunities for laid off coal workers. In order to determine the viability of a smooth transition from coal to PV-related employment, this paper provides an analysis of the cost to retrain current coal workers for solar photovoltaic industry employment in the U.S. The current coal industry positions are determined, the skill set evaluated and the salaries tabulated. For each type of coal position, the closest equivalent PV position is determined and then the re-training time and investment are quantified. These values are applied on a state-by-state basis for coal producing states employing the bulk of coal workers as a function of time using a reverse seniority retirement program for the current American fleet of coal-powered plants. The results show that a relatively minor investment in retraining would allow the vast majority of coal workers to switch to PV-related positions even in the event of the elimination of the coal industry.

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‘Climate value at risk’ of global financial assets

Simon Dietz et al.

Nature Climate Change, July 2016, Pages 676–679

Abstract:
Investors and financial regulators are increasingly aware of climate-change risks. So far, most of the attention has fallen on whether controls on carbon emissions will strand the assets of fossil-fuel companies. However, it is no less important to ask, what might be the impact of climate change itself on asset values? Here we show how a leading integrated assessment model can be used to estimate the impact of twenty-first-century climate change on the present market value of global financial assets. We find that the expected ‘climate value at risk’ (climate VaR) of global financial assets today is 1.8% along a business-as-usual emissions path. Taking a representative estimate of global financial assets, this amounts to US$2.5 trillion. However, much of the risk is in the tail. For example, the 99th percentile climate VaR is 16.9%, or US$24.2 trillion. These estimates would constitute a substantial write-down in the fundamental value of financial assets. Cutting emissions to limit warming to no more than 2 °C reduces the climate VaR by an expected 0.6 percentage points, and the 99th percentile reduction is 7.7 percentage points. Including mitigation costs, the present value of global financial assets is an expected 0.2% higher when warming is limited to no more than 2 °C, compared with business as usual. The 99th percentile is 9.1% higher. Limiting warming to no more than 2 °C makes financial sense to risk-neutral investors — and even more so to the risk averse.

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Millions projected to be at risk from sea-level rise in the continental United States

Mathew Hauer, Jason Evans & Deepak Mishra

Nature Climate Change, July 2016, Pages 691–695

Abstract:
Sea-level rise (SLR) is one of the most apparent climate change stressors facing human society. Although it is known that many people at present inhabit areas vulnerable to SLR, few studies have accounted for ongoing population growth when assessing the potential magnitude of future impacts. Here we address this issue by coupling a small-area population projection with a SLR vulnerability assessment across all United States coastal counties. We find that a 2100 SLR of 0.9 m places a land area projected to house 4.2 million people at risk of inundation, whereas 1.8 m affects 13.1 million people — approximately two times larger than indicated by current populations. These results suggest that the absence of protective measures could lead to US population movements of a magnitude similar to the twentieth century Great Migration of southern African-Americans. Furthermore, our population projection approach can be readily adapted to assess other hazards or to model future per capita economic impacts.

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Simple reframing unlikely to boost public support for climate policy

Thomas Bernauer & Liam McGrath

Nature Climate Change, July 2016, Pages 680–683

Abstract:
Ambitious policies for limiting climate change require strong public support. However, the public’s appetite for such policies, as observed in most countries, is rather limited. One possibility for enhancing public support could be to shift the main justification in the public policy discourse on greenhouse gas mitigation from benefits of reducing climate change risks (the conventional justification) to other types of benefit. Technological innovation, green jobs, community building and health benefits are widely discussed candidates. The intuition is that reframing greenhouse gas mitigation efforts and their benefits in such terms could make them more personally relevant as well as more emotionally engaging and appealing to citizens. On the basis of results from two survey-embedded experiments (combined N = 1,675), and in contrast to some earlier studies, we conclude that simple reframing of climate policy is unlikely to increase public support, and outline reasons for this finding. As the added value of other justifications remains unclear at best and potentially nil, sticking to climate risk reduction as the dominant justification seems worthwhile.

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What’s powering wind? The effect of the U.S. state renewable energy policies on wind capacity (1994–2012)

Karen Maguire

Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
As of 2012, 29 states had enacted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), while 37 states had at least one utility offering Green Power Purchasing (GPP) to their customers. The goal of both policies is to promote the adoption of clean, renewable energy. This article examines the influence of these polices on wind capacity across the United States from 1994–2012, a period of significant expansion of the wind generation market. The analysis focuses on wind because as compared with other modern renewable energy sources, wind is the only renewable energy source to make significant inroads into the U.S. electricity generation market. My findings indicate that while there have been significant increases in commercial scale wind generation capacity, neither RPS nor GPP programmes had a significant influence on within state wind capacity additions.

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Evidence for climate change in the satellite cloud record

Joel Norris et al.

Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
Clouds substantially affect Earth’s energy budget by reflecting solar radiation back to space and by restricting emission of thermal radiation to space. They are perhaps the largest uncertainty in our understanding of climate change, owing to disagreement among climate models and observational datasets over what cloud changes have occurred during recent decades and will occur in response to global warming. This is because observational systems originally designed for monitoring weather have lacked sufficient stability to detect cloud changes reliably over decades unless they have been corrected to remove artefacts. Here we show that several independent, empirically corrected satellite records exhibit large-scale patterns of cloud change between the 1980s and the 2000s that are similar to those produced by model simulations of climate with recent historical external radiative forcing. Observed and simulated cloud change patterns are consistent with poleward retreat of mid-latitude storm tracks, expansion of subtropical dry zones, and increasing height of the highest cloud tops at all latitudes. The primary drivers of these cloud changes appear to be increasing greenhouse gas concentrations and a recovery from volcanic radiative cooling. These results indicate that the cloud changes most consistently predicted by global climate models are currently occurring in nature.

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Strongly increasing heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the 21st century

J. Lelieveld et al.

Climatic Change, July 2016, Pages 245-260

Abstract:
The ensemble results of CMIP5 climate models that applied the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios have been used to investigate climate change and temperature extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Uncertainty evaluation of climate projections indicates good model agreement for temperature but much less for precipitation. Results imply that climate warming in the MENA is strongest in summer while elsewhere it is typically stronger in winter. The summertime warming extends the thermal low at the surface from South Asia across the Middle East over North Africa, as the hot desert climate intensifies and becomes more extreme. Observations and model calculations of the recent past consistently show increasing heat extremes, which are projected to accelerate in future. The number of warm days and nights may increase sharply. On average in the MENA, the maximum temperature during the hottest days in the recent past was about 43 °C, which could increase to about 46 °C by the middle of the century and reach almost 50 °C by the end of the century, the latter according to the RCP8.5 (business-as-usual) scenario. This will have important consequences for human health and society.

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Offshore CCS and ocean acidification: A global long-term probabilistic cost-benefit analysis of climate change mitigation

Bob van der Zwaan & Reyer Gerlagh

Climatic Change, July 2016, Pages 157-170

Abstract:
Public fear over environmental and health impacts of CO2 storage, or over potential leakage of CO2 from geological reservoirs, is among the reasons why over the past decade CCS has not yet been deployed on a scale large enough so as to meaningfully contribute to mitigate climate change. Storage of CO2 under the seabed moves this climate mitigation option away from inhabited areas and could thereby take away some of the opposition towards this technology. Given that in the event of CO2 leakage through the overburden in the case of sub-seabed CCS, the ocean could function as buffer for receiving this greenhouse gas, instead of it directly being emitted into the atmosphere, offshore CCS could also address concerns over the climatic impacts of CO2 seepage. We point out that recent geological studies provide evidence that to date CO2 has been safely stored under the seabed. Leakage for individual offshore CCS operations could thus be unlikely from a technical point of view, if storage sites are well chosen, well managed and well monitored. But we argue that on a global longterm scale, for an ensemble of thousands or millions of storage sites, leakage of CO2 could take place in certain cases and/or countries for e.g. economic, institutional, legal or safety-cultural reasons. In this paper we investigate what the impact could be in terms of temperature increase and ocean acidification if leakage occurs at a global level, and address the question what the relative roles could be of on- and offshore CCS if mankind desires to divert the damages resulting from climate change. For this purpose, we constructed a top-down energy-environment-economy model, with which we performed a probabilistic Monte-Carlo cost-benefit analysis of climate change mitigation with on- and offshore CCS as specific CO2 abatement options. One of our main conclusions is that, even under conditions with non-zero (permille/year) leakage for CCS activity globally, both onshore and offshore CCS should probably – on economic grounds at least - still account for anywhere between 20 % and 80 % of all future CO2 abatement efforts under a broad range of CCS cost assumptions.

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Anthropogenic forcing dominates global mean sea-level rise since 1970

Aimée Slangen et al.

Nature Climate Change, July 2016, Pages 701–705

Abstract:
Sea-level change is an important consequence of anthropogenic climate change, as higher sea levels increase the frequency of sea-level extremes and the impact of coastal flooding and erosion on the coastal environment, infrastructure and coastal communities. Although individual attribution studies have been done for ocean thermal expansion and glacier mass loss, two of the largest contributors to twentieth-century sea-level rise, this has not been done for the other contributors or total global mean sea-level change (GMSLC). Here, we evaluate the influence of greenhouse gases (GHGs), anthropogenic aerosols, natural radiative forcings and internal climate variability on sea-level contributions of ocean thermal expansion, glaciers, ice-sheet surface mass balance and total GMSLC. For each contribution, dedicated models are forced with results from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) climate model archive. The sum of all included contributions explains 74 ± 22% (±2σ) of the observed GMSLC over the period 1900–2005. The natural radiative forcing makes essentially zero contribution over the twentieth century (2 ± 15% over the period 1900–2005), but combined with the response to past climatic variations explains 67 ± 23% of the observed rise before 1950 and only 9 ± 18% after 1970 (38 ± 12% over the period 1900–2005). In contrast, the anthropogenic forcing (primarily a balance between a positive sea-level contribution from GHGs and a partially offsetting component from anthropogenic aerosols) explains only 15 ± 55% of the observations before 1950, but increases to become the dominant contribution to sea-level rise after 1970 (69 ± 31%), reaching 72 ± 39% in 2000 (37 ± 38% over the period 1900–2005).

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Human-induced greening of the northern extratropical land surface

Jiafu Mao et al.

Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Significant land greening in the northern extratropical latitudes (NEL) has been documented through satellite observations during the past three decades. This enhanced vegetation growth has broad implications for surface energy, water and carbon budgets, and ecosystem services across multiple scales. Discernible human impacts on the Earth’s climate system have been revealed by using statistical frameworks of detection–attribution. These impacts, however, were not previously identified on the NEL greening signal, owing to the lack of long-term observational records, possible bias of satellite data, different algorithms used to calculate vegetation greenness, and the lack of suitable simulations from coupled Earth system models (ESMs). Here we have overcome these challenges to attribute recent changes in NEL vegetation activity. We used two 30-year-long remote-sensing-based leaf area index (LAI) data sets, simulations from 19 coupled ESMs with interactive vegetation, and a formal detection and attribution algorithm. Our findings reveal that the observed greening record is consistent with an assumption of anthropogenic forcings, where greenhouse gases play a dominant role, but is not consistent with simulations that include only natural forcings and internal climate variability. These results provide the first clear evidence of a discernible human fingerprint on physiological vegetation changes other than phenology and range shifts.

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Statements about climate researchers’ carbon footprints affect their credibility and the impact of their advice

Shahzeen Attari, David Krantz & Elke Weber

Climatic Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Would you follow advice about personal energy conservation from a climate specialist with a large carbon footprint? Many climate researchers report anecdotes in which their sincerity was challenged based on their alleged failure to reduce carbon emissions. Here, we report the results of two large online surveys that measure the perceived credibility of a climate researcher who provides advice on how to reduce energy use (by flying less, conserving home energy, and taking public transportation), as a function of that researcher’s personal carbon footprint description. Across the two studies, we randomly assigned participants to one of 18 vignettes about a climate scientist. We show that alleged large carbon footprints can greatly reduce the researcher’s credibility compared to low footprints. We also show that these differences in perceived credibility strongly affect participants’ reported intentions to change personal energy consumption. These effects are large, both for participants who believe climate change is important and for those who do not. Participants’ politics do affect their attitudes toward researchers, and have an extra effect on reported intentions to use public transportation (but not on intentions to fly less or conserve home energy). Credibility effects are similar for male and female climate scientists.

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Enhanced economic connectivity to foster heat stress–related losses

Leonie Wenz & Anders Levermann

Science Advances, June 2016

Abstract:
Assessing global impacts of unexpected meteorological events in an increasingly connected world economy is important for estimating the costs of climate change. We show that since the beginning of the 21st century, the structural evolution of the global supply network has been such as to foster an increase of climate-related production losses. We compute first- and higher-order losses from heat stress–induced reductions in productivity under changing economic and climatic conditions between 1991 and 2011. Since 2001, the economic connectivity has augmented in such a way as to facilitate the cascading of production loss. The influence of this structural change has dominated over the effect of the comparably weak climate warming during this decade. Thus, particularly under future warming, the intensification of international trade has the potential to amplify climate losses if no adaptation measures are taken.

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The downside risk of climate change in California’s Central Valley agricultural sector

Michael Hanemann, Susan Stratton Sayre & Larry Dale

Climatic Change, July 2016, Pages 15-27

Abstract:
Downscaled climate change projections for California, when translated into changes in irrigation water delivery and then into profit from agriculture in the Central Valley, show an increase in conventional measures of variability such as the variance. However, these increases are modest and mask a more pronounced increase in downside risk, defined as the probability of unfavorable outcomes of water supply or profit. This paper describes the concept of downside risk and measures it as it applies to outcomes for Central Valley agriculture projected under four climate change scenarios. We compare the effect of downside risk aversion versus conventional risk aversion or risk neutrality when assessing the impact of climate change on the profitability of Central Valley agriculture. We find that, when downside risk is considered, the assessment of losses due to climate change increases substantially.

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From Urban to National Heat Island: The effect of anthropogenic heat output on climate change in high population industrial countries

John Murray & Douglas Heggie

Earth's Future, forthcoming

Abstract:
The project presented here sought to determine whether changes in anthropogenic thermal emission can have a measurable effect on temperature at the national level, taking Japan & Great Britain as type examples. Using energy consumption as a proxy for thermal emission, strong correlations (mean r2 = 0.90 & 0.89 respectively) are found between national equivalent heat output HO and temperature above background levels ∆t averaged over 5 to 8 year periods between 1965 and 2013, as opposed to weaker correlations for CMIP5 model temperatures above background levels ∆mt (mean r2 = 0.52 & 0.10). It is clear that the fluctuations in ∆t are better explained by energy consumption than by present climate models, and that energy consumption can contribute to climate change at the national level on these timescales.

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Rapid carbon mineralization for permanent disposal of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions

Juerg Matter et al.

Science, 10 June 2016, Pages 1312-1314

Abstract:
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) provides a solution toward decarbonization of the global economy. The success of this solution depends on the ability to safely and permanently store CO2. This study demonstrates for the first time the permanent disposal of CO2 as environmentally benign carbonate minerals in basaltic rocks. We find that over 95% of the CO2 injected into the CarbFix site in Iceland was mineralized to carbonate minerals in less than 2 years. This result contrasts with the common view that the immobilization of CO2 as carbonate minerals within geologic reservoirs takes several hundreds to thousands of years. Our results, therefore, demonstrate that the safe long-term storage of anthropogenic CO2 emissions through mineralization can be far faster than previously postulated.

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Future Changes in Convective Storm Days over the Northeastern United States Using Linear Discriminant Analysis Applied to CMIP5 Predictions

Harrison Li & Brian Colle

Journal of Climate, June 2016, Pages 4327–4345

Abstract:
Future changes in the frequency of environmental conditions conducive for convective storm days (“CE days”) are determined for the northeastern United States (NEUS) during the warm seasons (April–September) of the twenty-first century. Statistical relationships between historical runs of seven models in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) and radar-classified convective storm days are developed using linear discriminant analysis (LDA), and these relationships are then applied to analyze changes in the convective environment under the high-emissions representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario over the period 2006–99. The 1996–2007 warm seasons are used to train the LDA thresholds using convective precipitation from two reanalysis datasets and radar data, and the 1979–95 and 2008–10 warm seasons are used to verify these thresholds. For the CMIP5 historical period (1979–2005), the frequency of warm season CE days averaged across the CMIP5 models is slightly greater than that derived using reanalysis data, although both methods indicate a slight increasing trend through the historical period. Between 2006 and 2099, warm season CE day frequency is predicted to increase substantially at an average rate of 4–5 days decade−1 (50%–80% increase over the entire period). These changes are mostly attributed to a predicted 30%–40% increase in midlevel precipitable water between the historical period and the last few decades of the twenty-first century. Consistent with previous studies, there is decreasing deep-layer vertical wind shear as a result of a weakening horizontal temperature gradient, but this is outweighed by increases in instability led by the moisture increases.

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The Realization of Extreme Tornadic Storm Events under Future Anthropogenic Climate Change

Robert Trapp & Kimberly Hoogewind

Journal of Climate, July 2016, Pages 5251–5265

Abstract:
This research seeks to answer the basic question of how current-day extreme tornadic storm events might be realized under future anthropogenic climate change. The pseudo global warming (PGW) methodology was adapted for this purpose. Three contributions to the CMIP5 archive were used to obtain the mean 3D atmospheric state simulated during May 1990–99 and May 2090–99. The climate change differences (or Δs) in temperature, relative humidity, pressure, and winds were added to NWP analyses of three high-end tornadic storm events, and this modified atmospheric state was then used for initial and boundary conditions for real-data WRF Model simulations of the events at high resolution. Comparison of an ensemble of these simulations with control simulations (CTRL) facilitated assessment of PGW effects. In contrast to the robust development of supercellular convection in each CTRL, the combined effects of increased convective inhibition (CIN) and decreased parcel lifting under PGW led to a failure of convection initiation in many of the experiments. Those experiments that had sufficient matching between the CIN and lifting tended to generate stronger convective updrafts than CTRL, although not in proportion to the projected higher levels of convective available potential energy (CAPE) under PGW. In addition, the experiments with enhanced updrafts also tended to have enhanced vertical rotation. In fact, such supercellular convection was even found in simulations that were driven with PGW-reduced environmental wind shear. Notably, the PGW modifications did not induce a change in the convective morphology in any of the PGW experiments with significant convective storminess.

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Cash for Carbon: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Payments for Ecosystem Services to Reduce Deforestation

Seema Jayachandran et al.

NBER Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
This paper evaluates a Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) program in western Uganda that offered forest-owning households cash payments if they conserved their forest. The program was implemented as a randomized trial in 121 villages, 60 of which received the program for two years. The PES program reduced deforestation and forest degradation: Tree cover, measured using high-resolution satellite imagery, declined by 2% to 5% in treatment villages compared to 7% to 10% in control villages during the study period. We find no evidence of shifting of tree-cutting to nearby land. We then use the estimated effect size and the "social cost of carbon" to value the delayed carbon dioxide emissions, and compare this benefit to the program's cost.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Bottoms up

Does Banning Carbonated Beverages in Schools Decrease Student Consumption?

Shirlee Lichtman-Sadot

Journal of Public Economics, August 2016, Pages 30–50

Abstract:
I evaluate the effectiveness of carbonated beverage bans in schools by investigating their impact on household soda consumption. I match households in Nielsen Homescan Data to their school district’s carbonated beverage policies over an eight-year period (2002–2009). I find that when high schools ban the sale of carbonated beverages to students, households with a high school student experiencing the ban increase their consumption of non-diet soda by roughly the equivalent of 3.4 cans per month. I present evidence that this is a substantial offsetting (67–75%) of the average non-diet carbonated beverage consumption in high schools, when these are available to students, thus demonstrating the persistence of preferences when attempting to alter unhealthy habits.

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The Impact of Late-Career Job Loss and Genotype on Body Mass Index

Lauren Schmitz & Dalton Conley

NBER Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
This study examines whether the effect of job loss on body mass index (BMI) at older ages is moderated by genotype using twenty years of socio-demographic and genome-wide data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). To avoid any potential confounding we interact layoffs due to a plant or business closure — a plausibly exogenous environmental exposure — with a polygenic risk score for BMI in a regression-adjusted semiparametric differences-in-differences matching framework that compares the BMI of those before and after an involuntary job loss with a control group that has not been laid off. Results indicate genetically-at-risk workers who lost their job before they were eligible for Social Security benefits, or before age 62, were more likely to gain weight. Further analysis reveals heterogeneous treatment effects by demographic, health, and socioeconomic characteristics. In particular, we find high risk individuals who gained weight after a job loss were more likely to be male, in worse health, single, and at the bottom half of the wealth distribution. Across the board, effects are concentrated among high-risk individuals who were not overweight prior to job loss, indicating unemployment at older ages may trigger weight gain in otherwise healthy or normal weight populations.

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The impact of changing economic conditions on overweight risk among children in California from 2008 to 2012

Vanessa Oddo et al.

Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Methods: We investigated the association between indicators of changing macroeconomic conditions from 2008 to 2012 and overweight/obesity risk among school-aged children in California (n=1 741 712) using longitudinal anthropometric measurements. Multivariate regression, with individual and county fixed effects, was used to examine the effects of annual county-level unemployment and foreclosure rates on risk of child overweight/obesity, overall and among subgroups (race/ethnicity, sex, county-level median household income and county-level urban/rural status).

Results: From 2008 to 2012, ∼36% of children were overweight/obese and unemployment and foreclosure rates averaged 11% and 6.9%, respectively. A 1-percentage point (pp) increase in unemployment was associated with a 1.4 pp (95% CI 1.3 to 1.5) increase in overweight/obesity risk. Therefore, a child of average weight could expect a 14% increase in their body mass index z-score in association with a 1 pp increase in unemployment during the study period. We found some differences in the magnitude of the effects for unemployment among demographic subgroups, with the largest effects observed for unemployment among American Indians and Pacific Islanders.

Conclusions: Comparing children to themselves over time, we provide evidence that increases in county-level unemployment are associated with increased overweight/obesity risk. Given that overweight among children with lower economic resources remains a challenge for public health, these findings highlight the importance of policy-level approaches, which aim to mitigate the impact of decreased resources as economic conditions change.

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The Changing Body Mass–Mortality Association in the United States: Evidence of Sex-Specific Cohort Trends from Three National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys

Yan Yu

Biodemography and Social Biology, Summer 2016, Pages 143-163

Abstract:
The association between body mass index (BMI) categories and mortality remains uncertain. Using three National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys covering the 1971–2006 period for cohorts born between 1896 and 1968, this study estimates separately for men and women models for year-of-birth (cohort) and year-of-observation (period) trends in how age-specific mortality rates differ across BMI categories. Among women, relative to the normal weight (BMI 18.5–24.9 kg/m2), there are increasing trends in mortality rates for the overweight (BMI 25–29.9) or obese (BMI ≥ 30). Among men, mortality rates relative to the normal weight decrease for the overweight, do not change for the moderately obese (BMI 30–34.9), and increase for the severely obese (BMI ≥ 35). Period and cohort trends are similar, but the cohort trends are more consistent. In the latest cohorts, compared with the normal weight, mortality rates are 50 percent lower for overweight men, not different for moderately obese men, and 100–200 percent higher for severely obese men and for overweight or obese women. For U.S. cohorts born after the 1920s, a lower overweight than normal weight mortality is confined to men. I speculate on possible reasons why the mortality association with overweight and obesity varies by sex and cohort.

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The Effect of Sorority Membership on Eating Disorders, Body Weight, and Disordered-Eating Behaviors

Susan Averett, Sabrina Terrizzi & Yang Wang

Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Eating disorders are currently the deadliest mental disorder in the United States, affecting an estimated 12%–25% of all college women. Previous research has found a positive correlation between sorority membership and eating disorders, but the causal link has not been firmly established. We contribute to the literature by investigating a possible causal link among sororities and diagnosed eating disorders, measurable weight outcomes, and disordered-eating behaviors using data from the American College Health Association Survey. We handle the potential endogeneity of sorority membership using propensity score matching and instrumental variable methods to determine whether joining a sorority is a cause of the weight-related outcomes we study. We find that sorority members exhibit worse weight-related outcomes than those not in a sorority. However, our propensity score matching and instrumental variable results suggest that, other than BMI, this is merely a correlation, and there is little evidence that sorority membership is a cause of the outcomes we study.

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Association Between Artificially Sweetened Beverage Consumption During Pregnancy and Infant Body Mass Index

Meghan Azad et al.

JAMA Pediatrics, July 2016, Pages 662-670

Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study included 3033 mother-infant dyads from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study, a population-based birth cohort that recruited healthy pregnant women from 2009 to 2012. Women completed dietary assessments during pregnancy, and their infants’ BMI was measured at 1 year of age (n = 2686; 89% follow-up). Statistical analysis for this study used data collected after the first year of follow-up, which was completed in October 2013. The data analysis was conducted in August 2015.

Results: The mean (SD) age of the 3033 pregnant women was 32.4 (4.7) years, and their mean (SD) BMI was 24.8 (5.4). The mean (SD) infant BMI z score at 1 year of age was 0.19 (1.05), and 5.1% of infants were overweight. More than a quarter of women (29.5%) consumed artificially sweetened beverages during pregnancy, including 5.1% who reported daily consumption. Compared with no consumption, daily consumption of artificially sweetened beverages was associated with a 0.20-unit increase in infant BMI z score (adjusted 95% CI, 0.02-0.38) and a 2-fold higher risk of infant overweight at 1 year of age (adjusted odds ratio, 2.19; 95% CI, 1.23-3.88). These effects were not explained by maternal BMI, diet quality, total energy intake, or other obesity risk factors. There were no comparable associations for sugar-sweetened beverages.

Conclusions and Relevance: To our knowledge, we provide the first human evidence that maternal consumption of artificial sweeteners during pregnancy may influence infant BMI. Given the current epidemic of childhood obesity and widespread use of artificial sweeteners, further research is warranted to confirm our findings and investigate the underlying biological mechanisms, with the ultimate goal of informing evidence-based dietary recommendations for pregnant women.

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Desire for weight loss, weight-related social contact, and body mass outcomes

Matthew Andersson & Nicholas Christakis

Obesity, July 2016, Pages 1434–1437

Objective: This study evaluated whether desiring to lose weight is associated with subsequent changes in social contact with individuals perceived to be thinner or heavier.

Methods: Longitudinal data were used to examine associations between desiring to lose weight at baseline and social contact with thinner and heavier individuals across a 1-year follow-up period (N = 9,335, 2013–2014 Gallup National Panel). How baseline social contact is linked to body mass outcomes among those desiring to lose weight (N = 7,134) was also examined.

Results: Over time, individuals desiring to lose weight interacted more frequently (+69 interactions/year, on average) and were more likely to possess social ties (tie probability +0.12) with heavier individuals while lessening their interactions (−51 interactions/year) and decreasing their likelihood of ties (tie probability −0.048) with thinner individuals. On the other hand, increasing contacts and interactions with thinner individuals, and declining contacts and interactions with heavier individuals, were linked to actual weight loss.

Conclusions: Using national longitudinal data, an important mismatch was demonstrated between the social contacts created by individuals desiring weight loss and the contextual factors possibly useful for weight loss. This may help to explain why weight loss is often unsuccessful.

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Heterogeneous Behavior, Obesity, and Storability in the Demand for Soft Drinks

Emily Wang, Christian Rojas & Francesca Colantuoni

American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We apply a dynamic estimation procedure to investigate the effect of obesity on the demand for soda. The dynamic model accounts for consumers’ storing behavior, and allows us to study soda consumers’ price sensitivity (how responsive consumers are to the overall price) and sale sensitivity (the fraction of consumers that store soda during temporary price reductions). By matching store-level purchase data to county-level data on obesity incidence, we find higher sale sensitivity in populations with higher obesity rates. Conversely, we find that storers are less price sensitive than non-storers, and that their price sensitivity decreases with the obesity rate. Our results suggest that policies aimed at increasing soda prices might be less effective than previously thought, especially in areas where consumers can counteract that price increase by stockpiling during sale periods; according to our results, this dampening effect would be more pronounced precisely in those areas with higher obesity rates.

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Increased textural complexity in food enhances satiation

Danaé Larsen et al.

Appetite, October 2016, Pages 189–194

Abstract:
For the first time this study has shown a direct effect of food textural complexity on satiation. Independent of oral processing time, increasing the textural complexity of a food significantly decreased food intake. Foods with complex textures stimulate many sensory perceptions during oral processing, with a succession of textures perceived between first bite and swallow. Previously the impact of texture on satiation (commonly tested by increasing viscosities of semi-solids) has been explained by texture's influence on oral processing time; a long oral processing time enhances satiation. The results of the current study show that subjects in a randomised cross-over trial who consumed a “starter” (preload) model food with high textural complexity went on to eat significantly less of a two course ad libitum meal. Subjects who consumed a “starter” model food with low textural complexity, but with the same flavour, energy density and oral processing time, ate significantly more of the same ad libitum meal. The results show that increasing the number of textures perceived during chewing of a solid food triggers the satiation response earlier than when chewing a less texturally complex food. Increasing textural complexity of manufactured foods, to allow for greater sensory stimulation per bite, could potentially be used as a tool to enhance the satiation response and decrease food intake.

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Toddlers’ bias to look at average versus obese figures relates to maternal anti-fat prejudice

Ted Ruffman et al.

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, February 2016, Pages 195–202

Abstract:
Anti-fat prejudice (weight bias, obesity stigma) is strong, prevalent, and increasing in adults and is associated with negative outcomes for those with obesity. However, it is unknown how early in life this prejudice forms and the reasons for its development. We examined whether infants and toddlers might display an anti-fat bias and, if so, whether it was influenced by maternal anti-fat attitudes through a process of social learning. Mother–child dyads (N = 70) split into four age groups participated in a preferential looking paradigm whereby children were presented with 10 pairs of average and obese human figures in random order, and their viewing times (preferential looking) for the figures were measured. Mothers’ anti-fat prejudice and education were measured along with mothers’ and fathers’ body mass index (BMI) and children’s television viewing time. We found that older infants (M = 11 months) had a bias for looking at the obese figures, whereas older toddlers (M = 32 months) instead preferred looking at the average-sized figures. Furthermore, older toddlers’ preferential looking was correlated significantly with maternal anti-fat attitudes. Parental BMI, education, and children’s television viewing time were unrelated to preferential looking. Looking times might signal a precursor to explicit fat prejudice socialized via maternal anti-fat attitudes.

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Marketing Vegetables in Elementary School Cafeterias to Increase Uptake

Andrew Hanks, David Just & Adam Brumberg

Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objectives: Children do not eat enough servings of vegetables, underscoring the need for effective interventions encouraging this behavior. The purpose of this research was to measure the impact that daily exposure to branded vegetable characters has on vegetable selection among boys and girls in elementary schools.

Methods: In a large urban school district, 10 elementary schools agreed to participate in the study. They were randomly assigned to a control condition or 1 of 3 treatment conditions: (1) a vinyl banner displaying vegetable characters that was fastened around the base of the salad bar; (2) short television segments with health education delivered by vegetable characters; or (3) a combination of the vinyl banner and television segments. We collected 22 206 student-day observations over a 6-week period by tallying the number of boys and girls taking vegetables from the school’s salad bar.

Results: Results show that 90.5% (from 12.6% to 24.0%; P = .04) more students took vegetables from the salad bar when exposed to the vinyl banner only, and 239.2% (from 10.2% to 34.6%; P < .001) more students visited the salad bar when exposed to both the television segments and vinyl banners. Both boys and girls responded positively to the vinyl banners (P < .05 in both cases).

Conclusions: Evidence from this study highlights the positive impact of branded media on children’s vegetable selection in the school cafeteria. Results from this study suggest potential opportunities for using branded media to encourage healthier choices for children.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, July 11, 2016

Bet on it

Trading on Twitter: Using Social Media Sentiment to Predict Stock Returns

Hong Kee Sul, Alan Dennis & Lingyao (Ivy) Yuan

Decision Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Decision making is often based on the rational assessment of information, but recent research shows that emotional sentiment also plays an important role, especially for investment decision making. Emotional sentiment about a firm's stock that spreads rapidly through social media is more likely to be incorporated quickly into stock prices (e.g., on the same trading day it was expressed), while sentiment that spreads slowly takes longer to be incorporated into stock prices and thus is more likely to predict stock prices on future days. We analyzed the cumulative sentiment (positive and negative) in 2.5 million Twitter postings about individual S&P 500 firms and compared this to the stock returns of those firms. Our results show that the sentiment in tweets about a specific firm from users with less than 171 followers (the median in our sample) had a significant impact on the stock's returns on the next trading day, the next 10 days, and the next 20 days. Interestingly, sentiment in tweets from users with fewer than 171 followers that were not retweeted had the greatest impact on future stock returns. A trading strategy based on these findings produced meaningful economic gains on the order of an 11-15% annual return.

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What Do Measures of Real-time Corporate Sales Tell Us about Earnings Surprises and Post-Announcement Returns?

Kenneth Froot et al.

NBER Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
We develop real-time proxies of retail corporate sales from multiple sources, including ~50 million mobile devices. These measures contain information from both the earnings quarter ("within quarter") and the period between that quarter's end and the earnings announcement date ("post quarter"). Our within-quarter measure is powerful in explaining quarterly sales growth, revenue surprises, and earnings surprises, generating average excess returns at announcement of 3.4%. However, surprisingly, our post-quarter measure is related negatively to announcement returns, and positively to post-announcement returns. When post-quarter private information is directionally strong, managers, at announcement, provide guidance and use language that points statistically in the opposite direction. This effect is more pronounced when, post-announcement, management insiders trade. We conclude managers do not fully disclose their private information and instead message to shareholders and analysts something of opposite sign. The data suggest they may be motivated in part by subsequent personal stock-trading opportunities.

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Do Investors Use the Olympics as a Category for Investment and Should They?

Patricia Dechow, Alastair Lawrence & Mei Luo

University of California Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
There is a seven year period between the time that a country first learns that it has won a bid to host the Olympics to the playing of the games. We investigate whether investors use the Olympics as a category for investment over this time period. We examine two hosting countries: China in 2008 and the UK in 2012, and identify a set of stocks from a broad range of industries that are mentioned by media outlets as either directly or indirectly involved in the Olympics. We find that in both countries, Olympic stocks exhibit increases in comovement of returns after the Olympics are announced and declines in comovement after the games are played. We also find that Olympic stocks earn large excess returns when the stock market has performed well, consistent with investors moving funds into these stocks after observing strong past stock price performance. However, these excess returns are lost in subsequent market downturns. Further, evidence suggests that the Olympic Games have little impact on cash flows or earnings. Overall, our evidence suggests that Olympic "euphoria" is sufficient in both China and the UK to influence stock returns and valuations but the overall fundamental benefits of the Olympics are small.

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Investment Decisions Under Ambiguity: Evidence from Mutual Fund Investor Behavior

Wei Li, Ashish Tiwari & Lin Tong

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We provide novel evidence on the role of ambiguity aversion in determining the response of mutual fund investors to fund performance. Our analysis is motivated by theoretical models of decision making by ambiguity-averse investors. A key implication of the models is that when investors face information signals of uncertain quality, they place a greater weight on the worst signal. We find strong empirical support for this prediction in the form of heightened sensitivity of investor fund flows to the worst performance measure across multiple horizons. This effect is particularly pronounced for retail funds in contrast to institutional funds.

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Gambling Preferences, Options Markets, and Volatility

Benjamin Blau, Boone Bowles & Ryan Whitby

Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, April 2016, Pages 515-540

Abstract:
This study examines whether the gambling behavior of investors affects volume and volatility in financial markets. Focusing on the options market, we find that the ratio of call option volume relative to total option volume is greatest for stocks with return distributions that resemble lotteries. Consistent with the theoretical predictions of Stein (1987), we demonstrate that gambling-motivated trading in the options market influences future spot price volatility. These results not only identify a link between lottery preferences in the stock market and the options market, but they also suggest that lottery preferences can lead to destabilized stock prices.

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Stock Returns and Future Tense Language in 10-K Reports

Rasa Karapandza

Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper shows that firms talking less about the future in their annual reports generate positive abnormal returns of about 5% annually. I measure how much companies talk about the future in their annual 10-K reports by the frequency of the verbs will, shall, and going to. The evidence favors a risk-based interpretation: firms that use less future tense in their report offer higher returns since they are riskier. These results are consistent with finance theories stating that investors need to be rewarded for holding stocks of firms that put less information about the future in the marketplace.

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Art as a Wartime Investment: Conspicuous Consumption and Discretion

Kim Oosterlinck

Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
During World War II, artworks significantly outperformed all alternative investments in Occupied France. With the surge in demand for portable and easy-to-hide (discreet) assets such as artworks and collectible stamps, prices boomed. This suggests that discreet assets may be viewed as crypto-currencies, demand for which varies depending on the environment and the need to hide value. Regarding art market valuation, this paper argues that while some economic actors derive significant utility from conspicuous consumption, others value the discretion offered by artworks. Motives for purchasing art may thus vary over time.

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Finding Fortune: How Do Institutional Investors Pick Asset Managers?

Gregory Brown, Oleg Gredil & Preetesh Kantak

University of North Carolina Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
This paper studies how professional asset allocators such as endowments, fund-of-funds, or pension funds select fund managers for investments. We develop a simple model of their due-diligence process to motivate predictions about the timing of investment decisions. We then test these predictions using a unique dataset with detailed information on the interactions between a large institutional investor and 1,093 hedge funds over the course of 8 years. Soft information conveyed during the meetings with fund managers strongly influences the decisions. A one standard deviation increase in our proxy for positive soft information doubles the probability of fund selection and reduces the due-diligence time by 20%. Contrary to prior research, we find no evidence that relying on these subjective judgements is wasteful. Instead, in a matched sample, conditioned on the fund characteristics and past performance, the 12-month average peer-adjusted returns are 1.5% higher for the selected funds.

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Prospect Theory and Stock Returns: An Empirical Test

Nicholas Barberis, Abhiroop Mukherjee & Baolian Wang

Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We test the hypothesis that, when thinking about allocating money to a stock, investors mentally represent the stock by the distribution of its past returns and then evaluate this distribution in the way described by prospect theory. In a simple model of asset prices in which some investors think in this way, a stock whose past return distribution has a high (low) prospect theory value earns a low (high) subsequent return, on average. We find empirical support for this prediction in the cross-section of stock returns in the U.S. market, and also in a majority of forty-six other national stock markets.

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Additional evidence of heuristic-based inefficiency in season wins total betting markets: Major League Baseball

Bill Woodland & Linda Woodland

Journal of Economics and Finance, July 2016, Pages 538-548

Abstract:
The large majority of sports betting papers have addressed questions of market efficiency based on the outcome of single game, such as spread (sides) or point totals wagers. This research examines the Major League Baseball (MLB) season wins total over/under betting market with respect to questions of market efficiency and profitability. Woodland and Woodland (2013, 2015) investigated the season wins total markets for the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) and found significant inefficiencies. Betting rules tested in this paper parallel those proposed by Woodland and Woodland for the NFL and NBA. They aim to take advantage of the implications of the representativeness heuristic, that is, individuals expect results from a small number of games to generalize to the entire population. The MLB market is found to be inefficient, and provides opportunities for profitable wagering. We establish a tendency for bettors to overreact to a team's performance in the previous season, particularly for teams with winning records. Results are consistent with the findings for the NFL and NBA season wins totals betting markets. This may be the consequence of monetary betting limits and a structure requiring the completion of a sport's season before the bet outcome is determined, both of which could discourage some bettors from participating.

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Are Friday announcements special? Overcoming selection bias

Roni Michaely, Amir Rubin & Alexander Vedrashko

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We report reduced market response to Friday announcements of dividend changes, seasoned equity offerings, share repurchases, earnings, and mergers, which is seemingly consistent with the notion of investor inattention on Fridays. However, we show that these findings are an outcome of selection bias. Firms that make announcements on Fridays experience reduced market response on any weekday and have common unobserved characteristics across announcement types. After correcting for selection bias, there is no evidence that investors pay less attention to announcements made on Fridays. The method introduced here is applicable to other studies in which an exogenous factor influencing firm performance can actually be associated with firm characteristics.

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Jim Cramer's 'Mad Money' Charitable Trust Performance and Factor Attribution

Jonathan Hartley & Matthew Olson

University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
This study analyzes the complete historical performance of Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS portfolio from 2001 to 2016 which includes many of the stock recommendations made on Cramer's TV show "Mad Money". Both since inception of the portfolio and since the start of "Mad Money" in 2005 (when it was converted into a charitable trust), Cramer's portfolio has underperformed the S&P 500 total return index and a basket of S&P 500 stocks that does not reinvest dividends (both on an overall returns basis and in Sharpe ratio). These findings contrast with previous studies which analyzed Cramer's outperformance in short windows before the 2008 financial crisis. Using factor analysis, we find that Cramer's portfolio returns are primarily driven by underlevered exposure to market returns and in some specifications tilting toward small cap stocks, growth stocks and stocks with low quality of earnings. These results have broad implications for market efficiency, the usefulness of single name stock recommendations made on television, financial education, and the implementation of academic factors thematic in Cramer's portfolio.

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Does Information Intensity Matter for Stock Returns? Evidence from Form 8-K Filings

Xiaofei Zhao

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper identifies an important source of variation in U.S. firms' material information flows: their Form 8-K filing frequency. Exploiting cross-sectional variation in this novel proxy for information intensity, this paper finds that firms with higher information intensity experience lower future returns and lower future volatilities. The marginal return impact is higher at low levels of information intensity and high levels of prior volatility. On average, an information-intensity-based long-short portfolio generates a return spread of 4.3% per year. After adjusting for the Fama-French three factors and the momentum factor, the abnormal return remains 4.4% per year. These novel findings suggest that, because of the dynamic nature of information arrival, the frequency/quantity of information is an important source affecting the information environment and stock returns of public companies. These findings are consistent with the predictions of a broad class of noisy rational expectations equilibrium models and estimation risk models, and they highlight the importance of learning in financial markets with incomplete information.

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Voluntary monthly earnings disclosures and analyst behavior

Shou-Min Tsao, Hsueh-Tien Lu & Edmund Keung

Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine how voluntary monthly earnings disclosures relate to monthly analyst behavior. We focus on the number of analysts following a firm and several properties that characterize analysts' earnings forecasts for the upcoming annual earnings. We find firms that disclose monthly earnings attract more analysts, have more accurate and less dispersed analyst earnings forecasts, and have lower overall uncertainty and less commonality of information in analysts' earnings forecasts. In addition, the effect of monthly earnings disclosure on analyst behavior is more pronounced for the firms that regularly disclose monthly earnings. Our results are consistent with the notion that an important role played by a voluntary increase in reporting frequency is to trigger the generation of idiosyncratic information by financial analysts. In other words, analysts tend to complement rather than substitute for firm-provided voluntary disclosures.

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Can Analysts Assess Fundamental Risk and Valuation Uncertainty? An Empirical Analysis of Scenario-based Value Estimates

Peter Joos, Joseph Piotroski & Suraj Srinivasan

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We use a data set of sell-side analysts' scenario-based equity valuation estimates to examine whether analysts can assess the state-contingent risk surrounding a firm's fundamental value. We find that the spread in analysts' scenario-based valuations captures the riskiness of operations and predicts the absolute magnitude of long-run valuation errors and future changes in firm fundamentals. We also show that analysts' assessment of fundamental risk and its predictive ability systematically improved after the financial crisis, consistent with the macroeconomic shock raising analysts' awareness of firms' systematic risk exposures.

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Loss-Averse Preferences, Performance, and Career Success of Institutional Investors

Andriy Bodnaruk & Andrei Simonov

Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using survey-based measures of mutual fund manager loss aversion, we study the effects of institutional investor preferences on their investment decisions, performance, and career outcomes. We find that managers with higher aversion to losses choose portfolios with lower downside risk, increase their risk-taking more in response to poor past performance, and display a stronger disposition effect. Further, we provide evidence that managers who are more loss-averse have lower performance and are more likely to have their contracts terminated.

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Being Surprised by the Unsurprising: Earnings Seasonality and Stock Returns

Tom Chang et al.

University of Southern California Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
We present evidence consistent with markets failing to properly price information in seasonal earnings patterns. Firms with historically larger earnings in one quarter of the year ("positive seasonality quarters") have higher returns when those earnings are usually announced. Analysts have more positive forecast errors in positive seasonality quarters, consistent with the returns being driven by mistaken earnings estimates. We show that investors appear to overweight recent lower earnings following positive seasonality quarters, leading to pessimistic forecasts in the subsequent positive seasonality quarter. The returns are not explained by risk-based explanations, firm-specific information, increased volume, or idiosyncratic volatility.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bummer

How Are You, My Dearest Mozart? Well-being and Creativity of Three Famous Composers Based on their Letters

Karol Jan Borowiecki

Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The importance of creativity is being increasingly recognized by economists; however, the possibility that emotional factors determine creative processes is largely ignored. Building on 1,400 letters written by three famous music composers, I obtain wellbeing indices that span their lifetimes. The validity of this methodology is shown by linking the indices with biographical information and through estimation of the determinants of well-being. I then exploit the data and provide quantitative evidence on the existence of a causal impact of negative emotions on outstanding creativity, an association hypothesized across several disciplines since the Antiquity, but that has not yet been convincingly established.

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Billboard Hot 100 Songs: Self-Promoting Over the Past 20 Years

Pam McAuslan & Marie Waung

Psychology of Popular Media Culture, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests that an increase in narcissism and individualism in contemporary Western society corresponds with greater self-focus depicted in cultural products (Morling & Lamoreaux, 2008). However, little attention has been given to popular music within this context (DeWall, Pond, Campbell, & Twenge, 2011). The current study examines changes in self-promotion (e.g., references to self, bragging, demands for respect), and the sociodemographic characteristics of both artists and audiences as they relate to self-promoting tendencies in popular music. Data were obtained using Billboard Hot 100 songs for the years 1990, 2000, and 2010. The most popular music in 2010 contained significantly more types of self-promotion than music from previous decades. This change reflects characteristics of genres (e.g., rap/hip-hop, pop, dance) that have gained popularity among younger audiences, but also corresponds to larger societal changes in individualism. Songs by male artists and African American artists were more likely to contain self-promotion than those by female or Caucasian artists. These differences are considered within the context of past theory and research related to socialization across groups more generally. Implications for parents, educators, and consumers are discussed.

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Does Variety Among Activities Increase Happiness?

Jordan Etkin & Cassie Mogilner

Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does variety increase happiness? Eight studies examine how the variety among the activities that fill people’s day-to-day lives affects subsequent happiness. The studies demonstrate that whether variety increases or decreases happiness depends on the perceived duration of the time within which the activities occur. For longer time periods (like a day), variety does increase happiness. However, for shorter time periods (like an hour), variety instead decreases happiness. This reversal stems from people’s sense of stimulation and productivity during that time. Whereas filling longer time periods with more varied activities makes the time feel more stimulating (which increases happiness), filling shorter time periods with more varied activities makes the time feel less productive (which decreases happiness). These effects are robust across actual and perceived variety, actual and perceived time duration, and multiple types of activities (work and leisure, self-selected and imposed, social and solo). Together the findings confirm that “variety is the spice of life” — but not of an hour.

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Population Of US Practicing Psychiatrists Declined, 2003–13, Which May Help Explain Poor Access To Mental Health Care

Tara Bishop et al.

Health Affairs, July 2016, Pages 1271-1277

Abstract:
A large proportion of the US population suffers from mental illness. Limited access to psychiatrists may be a contributor to the underuse of mental health services. We studied changes in the supply of psychiatrists from 2003 to 2013, compared to changes in the supply of primary care physicians and neurologists. During this period the number of practicing psychiatrists declined from 37,968 to 37,889, which represented a 10.2 percent reduction in the median number of psychiatrists per 100,000 residents in hospital referral regions. In contrast, the numbers of primary care physicians and neurologists grew during the study period. These findings may help explain why patients report poor access to mental health care. Future research should explore the impact of the declining psychiatrist supply on patients and investigate new models of care that seek to integrate mental health and primary care or use team-based care that combines the services of psychiatrists and nonphysician providers for individuals with severe mental illnesses.

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Good day for Leos: Horoscope's influence on perception, cognitive performances, and creativity

Magali Clobert et al.

Personality and Individual Differences, October 2016, Pages 348–355

Abstract:
Do people treat horoscopes as mere entertainment, or does reading horoscopes have more substantial consequences? Building upon research on the expectancy effect as well as on literature highlighting the influence of astrology on individuals, we hypothesized that reading positive versus negative horoscopes would affect people's perceptions, emotions, cognitions, and creativity. Across three experiments, reading positive versus negative astrological forecasts increased positive interpretation of ambiguous events (Experiment 1, N = 195), cognitive performance (Experiment 2, N = 189), and creativity (Experiment 3, N = 193). Furthermore, positive (versus negative) horoscopes decreased negative emotions among people who believe in astrology and the effects of horoscopes on cognitive performances and creativity were stronger among people with a low internal locus of control. Opening newspapers and searching for daily horoscopes have more consequences than one may initially think.

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Narcissism is associated with weakened frontostriatal connectivity: A DTI study

David Chester et al.

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, July 2016, Pages 1036-1040

Abstract:
Narcissism is characterized by the search for affirmation and admiration from others. Might this motivation to find external sources of acclaim exist to compensate for neurostructural deficits that link the self with reward? Greater structural connectivity between brain areas that process self-relevant stimuli (i.e. the medial prefrontal cortex) and reward (i.e. the ventral striatum) is associated with fundamentally positive self-views. We predicted that narcissism would be associated with less integrity of this frontostriatal pathway. We used diffusion tensor imaging to assess the frontostriatal structural connectivity among 50 healthy undergraduates (32 females, 18 males) who also completed a measure of grandiose narcissism. White matter integrity in the frontostriatal pathway was negatively associated with narcissism. Our findings, while purely correlational, suggest that narcissism arises, in part, from a neural disconnect between the self and reward. The exhibitionism and immodesty of narcissists may then be a regulatory strategy to compensate for this neural deficit.

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Drawing to Distract: Examining the Psychological Benefits of Drawing Over Time

Jennifer Drake, Ingrid Hastedt & Clara James

Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, forthcoming

Abstract:
Individuals gravitate toward the arts during times of emotional stress. We examined the benefits of drawing over several sessions to determine whether drawing improves mood and, if so, whether it does so because it allows for emotional expression or distraction. After inducing a sad mood, we asked participants (n = 40) to draw over 4 consecutive days. Half of the participants were instructed to draw as a way to express their feelings (express condition) and half were instructed to draw as a way to focus and observe (distract condition). Mood was measured after the first and final testing session and a life satisfaction scale was administered at the beginning of the first testing session and after the final session. We found that drawing to distract improved mood more than drawing to express, both after a single drawing session and after 4 sessions. These findings are consistent with previous findings on drawing, but run counter to reports on the relative health benefits of expressive writing. We suggest drawing and writing may affect mood through different mechanisms.

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Who Can't Take a Compliment? The Role of Construal Level and Self-Esteem in Accepting Positive Feedback from Close Others

David Kille et al.

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
One way that relationship partners express positive regard – a key variable in relationship success – is through compliments. However, some people are unable to perceive positive regard through compliments. We hypothesized that low self-esteem (LSE) individuals' relatively negative self-theories conflict with the positive information conveyed in compliments. Hence, LSEs' self-verification motives (e.g., Swann, 1997, 2012) may lead LSEs to reject the positive implications of compliments. In an initial study, we demonstrated that LSEs (vs. high self-esteem individuals; HSEs) feel greater self-related concerns and negative affect after receiving compliments, which leads them to devalue those compliments. Drawing on theories of mental construal (e.g., Libby, Valenti, Pfent, & Eibach, 2011), we reasoned that the remedy for such self-theory-driven processes is to adopt a concrete (vs. abstract) mindset: LSEs should be less likely to apply their relatively negative self-theories when they process compliments in a concrete mindset. Across three studies, we used diverse methods to induce participants to experience either a concrete or abstract mindset, and asked them to recall (Studies 2 and 3) or imagine (Study 4) a partner's compliment. We then assessed their perceptions of their partners' regard. Results confirmed that the discrepancy in LSEs' and HSEs' perceptions of positive regard following a compliment from their romantic partners was significantly reduced when a concrete mindset was induced compared to when an abstract mindset (or no mindset, Study 4) was induced.

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Current Evolutionary Adaptiveness of Psychiatric Disorders: Fertility Rates, Parent−Child Relationship Quality, and Psychiatric Disorders Across the Lifespan

Nicholas Jacobson

Journal of Abnormal Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study sought to evaluate the current evolutionary adaptiveness of psychopathology by examining whether these disorders impact the quantity of offspring or the quality of the parent–child relationship across the life span. Using the National Comorbidity Survey, this study examined whether DSM–III–R anxiety, posttraumatic stress, depressive, bipolar, substance use, antisocial, and psychosis disorders predicted later fertility and the quality of parent–child relationships across the life span in a national sample (N = 8,098). Using latent variable and varying coefficient models, the results suggested that anxiety in males and bipolar pathology in males and females were associated with increased fertility at younger ages. The results suggested almost all other psychopathology was associated with decreased fertility in middle to late adulthood. The results further suggested that all types of psychopathology had negative impacts on the parent–child relationship quality (except for antisocial pathology in males). Nevertheless, for all disorders, the impact of psychopathology on both fertility and the parent–child relationship quality was affected by the age of the participant. The results also showed that anxiety pathology is associated with a high-quantity, low-quality parenting strategy followed by a low-quantity, low-quality parenting strategy. Further, the results suggest that bipolar pathology is associated with an early high-quantity and a continued low-quality parenting strategy. Posttraumatic stress, depression, substance use, antisocial personality, and psychosis pathology are each associated with a low-quantity, low-quality parenting strategy, particularly in mid to late adulthood. These findings suggest that the evolutionary impact of psychopathology depends on the developmental context.

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Creativity and Habitual Sleep Patterns Among Art and Social Sciences Undergraduate Students

Neta Ram-Vlasov et al.

Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study aimed to explore whether creativity and visual arts practice are associated with altered sleep structure, patterns, and quality. Fourteen visual arts and 16 social sciences undergraduate students participated in this home-based study. Sleep structure was measured by Polysomnography (PSG), habitual sleep patterns were monitored by Actigraphy and assessed by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the Munich Chronotype Questionnaire (MCTQ), and creativity was measured by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT). Results indicated that for the entire sample, higher visual creativity was associated with higher sleep disturbance, daytime dysfunction, and lower overall sleep quality, and that higher verbal creativity was associated with longer sleep duration and later sleep midpoint. Group comparisons showed that art students reported increased sleep disturbance and daytime dysfunction, and later sleep midpoint and chronotype, and exhibited longer sleep duration compared with the nonart students. This observational and correlative study establishes multidimensional relationships between creativity and sleep. Possible explanations for our findings are offered, acknowledging psychobiological mechanisms that are known to regulate both creativity and sleep.

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Stitching Time: Vintage Consumption Connects the Past, Present, and Future

Gülen Sarial-Abi et al.

Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigated a novel avenue for buffering against threats to meaning frameworks: vintage consumption. Although the appeal of vintage goods, defined as previously owned items from an earlier era, is strong and growing, this paper is among the first to examine the possible psychological ramifications of vintage consumption. Six studies found that vintage items mitigated the typical reactions to meaning threats. Four of these studies also showed that vintage consumption facilitates mental connections among the past, present, and future. As a result, people whose meaning structures had been threatened, for example by being reminded of their own eventual death, preferred vintage products more than others who had not experienced a meaning threat, and more than similar non-vintage products. These findings suggest that meaning disruptions stimulate a desire for intertemporal connections, a desire that vintage products — as existing and continuing symbols of bygone eras — seem to satisfy.

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When context matters: Negative emotions predict psychological health and adjustment

Karin Coifman, Jessica Flynn & Lavinia Pinto

Motivation and Emotion, August 2016, Pages 602-624

Abstract:
Functional theories of emotion argue for the adaptive function of negative emotions in response to specific contextual or environmental demands. However, data supporting these theories in community samples is limited and much research has suggested the opposite: negative emotions predict poor adjustment. To begin to address this discrepancy, we tested the functional association between negative emotion and psychological health and adjustment across three diverse samples: adults in intimate-partnerships, patients with chronic illness, and first-year college students. In each study we employed lab-based methods to elicit and index emotion as a multi-dimensional response system and considered contextual factors and the theorized or demonstrated function of negative emotions in that context and in relation to specific outcomes. Data analysis revealed that contextually sensitive negative emotion was adaptive, and associated with better relationship adjustment and related behaviors (Study 1), higher treatment adherence (Study 2), and adaptive responses to peer rejection (Study 3). Across samples, circumstances, and outcomes, negative emotions were positively associated with psychological health and adjustment.

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An autobiographical gateway: Narcissists avoid first-person visual perspective while retrieving self-threatening memories

Marta Marchlewska & Aleksandra Cichocka

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research examines the role of narcissistic versus genuine self-evaluation in the retrieval of self-threatening memories. Autobiographical memories can be retrieved either from a first-person or a third-person visual perspective. Because narcissism is linked to sensitivity to psychological threats, it should predict retrieval of self-threatening memories using the third-person perspective. Genuine self-esteem, on the other hand, is resilient to threats. Therefore, it should be associated with retrieving self-relevant, even if threatening, memories from the first-person perspective. In two experiments we measured narcissism and self-esteem. Experiment 1 manipulated valence of self-relevant memories by asking participants to recall self-threatening (shameful) or self-boosting (proud) situations. Experiment 2 manipulated self-relevance of negative memories by asking participants to recall self-threatening (shameful) or negative, yet not self-threatening (sad) situations. Visual perspective of memory retrieval served as the dependent variable. In Experiment 1, narcissism predicted avoiding the first-person perspective and employing the third-person perspective in self-threatening memories, while self-esteem predicted the first-person perspective regardless of the memories being self-threatening or self-boosting. In Experiment 2, narcissism predicted the third-person perspective, while genuine self-esteem predicted the first-person perspective when self-threatening memories were recalled. Neither narcissism, nor genuine self-esteem were associated with visual perspective when participants recalled negative memories irrelevant to the self. Results shed light on the role of self-evaluation in processing autobiographical memories.

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Effect of Palliative Care–Led Meetings for Families of Patients With Chronic Critical Illness: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Shannon Carson et al.

Journal of the American Medical Association, 5 July 2016, Pages 51-62

Design, Setting, and Participants: A multicenter randomized clinical trial conducted from October 2010 through November 2014 in 4 medical intensive care units (ICUs). Adult patients (aged ≥21 years) requiring 7 days of mechanical ventilation were randomized and their family surrogate decision makers were enrolled in the study. Observers were blinded to group allocation for the measurement of the primary outcomes.

Interventions: At least 2 structured family meetings led by palliative care specialists and provision of an informational brochure (intervention) compared with provision of an informational brochure and routine family meetings conducted by ICU teams (control). There were 130 patients with 184 family surrogate decision makers in the intervention group and 126 patients with 181 family surrogate decision makers in the control group.

Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale symptom score (HADS; score range, 0 [best] to 42 [worst]; minimal clinically important difference, 1.5) obtained during 3-month follow-up interviews with the surrogate decision makers. Secondary outcomes included posttraumatic stress disorder experienced by the family and measured by the Impact of Events Scale-Revised (IES-R; total score range, 0 [best] to 88 [worst]), discussion of patient preferences, hospital length of stay, and 90-day survival.

Results: Among 365 family surrogate decision makers (mean age, 51 years; 71% female), 312 completed the study. At 3 months, there was no significant difference in anxiety and depression symptoms between surrogate decision makers in the intervention group and the control group (adjusted mean HADS score, 12.2 vs 11.4, respectively; between-group difference, 0.8 [95% CI, −0.9 to 2.6]; P = .34). Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms were higher in the intervention group (adjusted mean IES-R score, 25.9) compared with the control group (adjusted mean IES-R score, 21.3) (between-group difference, 4.60 [95% CI, 0.01 to 9.10]; P = .0495). There was no difference between groups regarding the discussion of patient preferences (intervention, 75%; control, 83%; odds ratio, 0.63 [95% CI, 0.34 to 1.16; P = .14]). The median number of hospital days for patients in the intervention vs the control group (19 days vs 23 days, respectively; between-group difference, −4 days [95% CI, −6 to 3 days]; P = .51) and 90-day survival (hazard ratio, 0.95 [95% CI, 0.65 to 1.38], P = .96) were not significantly different.

Conclusions and Relevance: Among families of patients with chronic critical illness, the use of palliative care–led informational and emotional support meetings compared with usual care did not reduce anxiety or depression symptoms and may have increased posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. These findings do not support routine or mandatory palliative care–led discussion of goals of care for all families of patients with chronic critical illness.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Jerks

Subjective Socioeconomic Status Causes Aggression: A Test of the Theory of Social Deprivation

Tobias Greitemeyer & Christina Sagioglou

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Seven studies (overall N = 3690) addressed the relation between people’s subjective socioeconomic status (SES) and their aggression levels. Based on relative deprivation theory, we proposed that people low in subjective SES would feel at a disadvantage, which in turn would elicit aggressive responses. In 3 correlational studies, subjective SES was negatively related to trait aggression. Importantly, this relation held when controlling for measures that are related to 1 or both subjective SES and trait aggression, such as the dark tetrad and the Big Five. Four experimental studies then demonstrated that participants in a low status condition were more aggressive than were participants in a high status condition. Compared with a medium-SES condition, participants of low subjective SES were more aggressive rather than participants of high subjective SES being less aggressive. Moreover, low SES increased aggressive behavior toward targets that were the source for participants’ experience of disadvantage but also toward neutral targets. Sequential mediation analyses suggest that the experience of disadvantage underlies the effect of subjective SES on aggressive affect, whereas aggressive affect was the proximal determinant of aggressive behavior. Taken together, the present research found comprehensive support for key predictions derived from the theory of relative deprivation of how the perception of low SES is related to the person’s judgments, emotional reactions, and actions.

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Talking About School Bullying: News Framing of Who Is Responsible for Causing and Fixing the Problem

Sei-Hill Kim & Matthew Telleen

Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Our content analysis examines how American news media have framed the question of who is responsible for causing and solving the school bullying problem. We identified presence of considerable victim blaming in news coverage. Among potential causes examined, victims and their families were mentioned most often as being responsible. When talking about how to solve the problem, the media were focusing heavily on schools and teachers, while bullies and their families — the direct source of the problem — were mentioned least often. We also found that liberal newspapers were focusing more than conservative papers on social-level responsibilities, while conservative papers were more likely than liberal papers to attribute responsibility to individuals, suggesting that the political orientations of news organizations can affect which level of responsibility will be highlighted. Drawing upon the notion of frame building, we discuss in detail how several internal and external factors of news organizations can affect their selective uses of frames.

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Evidence That Self-Affirmation Reduces Relational Aggression: A Proof of Concept Trial

Christopher Armitage & Richard Rowe

Psychology of Violence, forthcoming

Objective: Acts of relational aggression cause significant social and personal costs, and interventions are needed to reduce relational aggression in community as well as clinical settings. The present study used a persuasive message coupled with a self-affirmation manipulation to reduce relational aggression among a group of adolescents recruited from the community.

Method: Participants (N = 503) all received a persuasive message designed to reduce relational aggression and were randomly allocated to participate in a self-affirming or nonaffirming task.

Results: Findings demonstrated a significant reduction in relational aggression over 1-month among participants who were randomized to the self-affirmation condition (d = −0.50) in contrast with a small increase in relational aggression in the control condition (d = +0.20). Contrary to expectations, these effects were not mediated by message processing or changes in interpersonal affect.

Conclusion: The present study used the novel approach of asking pupils to self-affirm following a persuasive message and showed that it was possible to reduce relational aggression. Self-affirmation shows considerable promise as a means of augmenting the delivery of interventions to reduce antisocial behavior in addition to other social and health behaviors.

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Environmental Determinants of Aggression in Adolescents: Role of Urban Neighborhood Greenspace

Diana Younan et al.

Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, July 2016, Pages 591–601

Objective: Neighborhood greenspace improves mental health of urban-dwelling populations, but its putative neurobehavioral benefits in adolescents remain unclear. We conducted a prospective study on urban-dwelling adolescents to examine the association between greenspace in residential neighborhood and aggressive behaviors.

Method: Participants (n = 1,287) of the Risk Factors for Antisocial Behavior Study, a multi-ethnic cohort of twins and triplets born in 1990 to 1995 and living in Southern California, were examined in 2000 to 2012 (aged 9−18 years) with repeated assessments of their aggressive behaviors by the parent-reported Child Behavior Checklist. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) derived from satellite imagery was used as a proxy for residential neighborhood greenspace aggregated over various spatiotemporal scales before each assessment. Multilevel mixed-effects models were used to estimate the effects of greenspace on aggressive behaviors, adjusting for within-family/within-individual correlations and other potential confounders.

Results: Both short-term (1- to 6-month) and long-term (1- to 3-year) exposures to greenspace within 1,000 meters surrounding residences were associated with reduced aggressive behaviors. The benefit of increasing vegetation over the range (∼0.12 in NDVI) commonly seen in urban environments was equivalent to approximately 2 to 2.5 years of behavioral maturation. Sociodemographic factors (e.g., age, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status) and neighborhood quality did not confound or modify these associations, and the benefits remained after accounting for temperature.

Conclusion: Our novel findings support the benefits of neighborhood greenspace in reducing aggressive behaviors of urban-dwelling adolescents. Community-based interventions are needed to determine the efficacy of greenspace as a preemptive strategy to reduce aggressive behaviors in urban environments.

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Seeing more than others: Identification of subtle aggressive information as a function of trait aggressiveness

Sarah Teige-Mocigemba, Fabian Hölzenbein & Karl Christoph Klauer

Social Psychology, Summer 2016, Pages 136-149

Abstract:
Researchers have long argued that aggressive individuals automatically tend to perceive hostile intent in others, even when it is in fact absent (hostile attribution bias). Wilkowski and Robinson (2012) recently showed, however, that aggressive individuals were particularly accurate in the identification of subtle cues of facial anger, indicating greater perceptual sensitivity to anger information rather than a biased perception or interpretation. We tested the generality of this finding in four paradigms with different stimuli. As predicted by Wilkowski and Robinson, the more aggressive participants were, the more accurately they identified subtle aggressive information, whereas accuracy in the identification of nonaggressive emotional information was not a function of self-reported aggressiveness. The discussion focuses on the generality and limitations of the findings.

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The Longitudinal Association Between Competitive Video Game Play and Aggression Among Adolescents and Young Adults

Paul Adachi & Teena Willoughby

Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
The longitudinal association between competitive video game play and aggression among young adults and adolescents was examined. Young adults (N = 1,132; Mage = 19 years) were surveyed annually over 4 years about their video game play and aggression, and data from a 4-year longitudinal study of adolescents (N = 1,492; Mage = 13 years) was reanalyzed. The results demonstrated a longitudinal association between competitive video game play and aggressive behavior among both age groups. In addition, competitive video game play predicted higher levels of aggressive affect over time, which, in turn, predicted higher levels of aggressive behavior over time, suggesting that aggressive affect was a mechanism of this link. These findings highlight the importance of investigating competitive elements of video game play that may predict aggression over time.

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Does Trait Masculinity Relate to Expressing Toughness? The Effects of Masculinity Threat and Self-Affirmation in College Men

Stephanie Fowler & Andrew Geers

Psychology of Men & Masculinity, forthcoming

Abstract:
Men have higher morbidity and mortality rates than women across the life span. One potential explanation for this gap is greater pressure for men to express their masculine toughness. Situations that threaten masculinity often result in compensatory behaviors (e.g., binge drinking) geared toward proving toughness. The present research tested the hypothesis that threats to masculinity would lead men to behave in ways that express toughness to a greater extent if they were highly masculine, as measured by the Bem Sex-Role Inventory. Further, we anticipated that self-affirmation would ameliorate the compensatory responding exhibited by higher masculine men under threat. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 experimental cells in a 2 (Masculine Identity Threat: yes, no) × 2 (Self-Affirmation: yes, no) between-subjects factorial design. Results indicated that men expressed masculine toughness to a greater extent when facing a masculinity threat than when under no threat. Further, higher masculinity amplified the effect of threat in expressing toughness. Results also showed that the opportunity to self-affirm reduced expression of toughness among higher masculine men facing a masculinity threat. Theoretical contributions, implications, and future directions for this line of research are discussed.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, July 8, 2016

Lawful

Less Is More? Detecting Lies in Veiled Witnesses

Amy-May Leach et al.

Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Judges in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada have ruled that witnesses may not wear the niqab - a type of face veil - when testifying, in part because they believed that it was necessary to see a person's face to detect deception (Muhammad v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, 2006; R. v. N. S., 2010; The Queen v. D(R), 2013). In two studies, we used conventional research methods and safeguards to empirically examine the assumption that niqabs interfere with lie detection. Female witnesses were randomly assigned to lie or tell the truth while remaining unveiled or while wearing a hijab (i.e., a head veil) or a niqab (i.e., a face veil). In Study 1, laypersons in Canada (N = 232) were more accurate at detecting deception in witnesses who wore niqabs or hijabs than in those who did not wear veils. Concealing portions of witnesses' faces led laypersons to change their decision-making strategies without eliciting negative biases. Lie detection results were partially replicated in Study 2, with laypersons in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands (N = 291): observers' performance was better when witnesses wore either niqabs or hijabs than when witnesses did not wear veils. These findings suggest that, contrary to judicial opinion, niqabs do not interfere with - and may, in fact, improve - the ability to detect deception.

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The Heavy Costs of High Bail: Evidence from Judge Randomization

Arpit Gupta, Christopher Hansman & Ethan Frenchman

Columbia University Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
Roughly 450,000 people are detained awaiting trial on any given day, typically because bail has not been posted. Using a large sample of criminal cases in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, we analyze the consequences of bail assessment and pretrial detentions by exploiting the variation in bail setting tendencies among randomly assigned bail judges. Our estimates suggest that the assignment of money bail leads to a 6 percentage point rise in the likelihood of pleading guilty, and a 4 percentage point rise in recidivism. We also find evidence for racial bias in bail setting. Our results highlight the importance of credit constraints in shaping defendant judicial outcomes and point to important fairness considerations in the institutional design of pretrial detention programs.

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Targeting young men of color for search and arrest during traffic stops: Evidence from North Carolina, 2002-2013

Frank Baumgartner et al.

Politics, Groups, and Identities, forthcoming

Abstract:
North Carolina mandated the first collection of demographic data on all traffic stops during a surge of attention to the phenomenon of "driving while black" in the late 1990s. Based on analysis of over 18 million traffic stops, we show dramatic disparities in the rates at which black drivers, particularly young males, are searched and arrested as compared to similarly situated whites, women, or older drivers. Further, the degree of racial disparity is growing over time. Finally, the rate at which searches lead to the discovery of contraband is consistently lower for blacks than for whites, providing strong evidence that the empirical disparities we uncover are in fact evidence of racial bias. The findings are robust to a variety of statistical specifications and consistent with findings in other jurisdictions.

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The Interdependence of Perceived Confession Voluntariness and Case Evidence

Rachel Greenspan & Nicholas Scurich

Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current research investigated the mechanisms by which perceptions of confession evidence both influence and are influenced by perceptions of other case evidence using the theoretical framework of coherence-based reasoning (CBR). CBR posits that ambiguity and uncertainty are eschewed by artificially imposing consistency between pieces of evidence through bidirectional reasoning: Inferences about evidence lead to a preferred verdict, which in turn radiates backward to influence the perception of evidence. Two studies tested the CBR account with regard to confessions. An online sample of participants evaluated confession and nonconfession evidence at pretest and posttest. Study 1 revealed that, during pretest, participants (N = 119) deemed the evidence independent and nonprobative and the confession to be voluntary. However, at posttest, in the context of a criminal trial, participants considered the same evidence interrelated and highly inculpatory or exculpatory, depending on their verdict. Moreover, participants who voted to convict deemed the confession substantially voluntary, whereas participants who voted to acquit deemed it involuntary. Study 2 experimentally manipulated the strength of the nonconfession evidence in an effort to push participants (N = 127) toward a particular verdict. The same patterns of results emerged but were conditional on the strength of the nonconfession evidence: Strong case evidence caused the confession to be perceived as more voluntary, despite the fact that the confession was held constant. These findings replicate the coherence effect in a new domain and suggest that judges conducting harmless error analysis or making admissibility decisions might underappreciate the impact of confession evidence on jurors' verdicts.

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Group Threat, Police Officer Diversity and the Deadly Use of Police Force

Joscha Legewie & Jeffrey Fagan

Columbia University Working Paper, May 2016

Abstract:
Officer-involved killings and racial bias in policing are controversial political issues. Prior research indicates that (perceived) group threat measured in terms of population shares and race-specific crime rates are important explanations for variations in police killings across cities in the the United States. We argue that a diverse police force that proportionally represents the population it serves mitigates group threat and thereby reduces the number of officer-involved killings. Count models support our argument. They show that officer involved killings of African Americans are higher in cities with factors commonly associated with group threat, including ethnic/racial polarization and black-on-white homicides. A diverse police force, however, reduces the influence of group threat lowering the number of officer-involved killings of African Americans. The findings represent one of the first analysis of a highly relevant contemporary issue based on a recent and high-quality dataset from 2013 to 2015. By highlighting the interaction between group treat and the proportional representation of minority groups in police departments, our research advances group conflict and threat theories with important theoretical and policy implications for law enforcement and representative bureaucracies more broadly.

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The Interactive Effects of National Origin and Immigration Status on Latino Drug Traffickers in U.S. Federal Courts

Melissa Logue

Race and Justice, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present study was an intragroup examination of noncitizen Latino drug traffickers convicted in the federal courts from 2006 to 2014. Drawing upon focal concerns theory and Sayad's state-centered perspective on the role of governments in framing the crime-immigration debate, this study assessed whether offenders' national origin conditions the effects of immigration status on the odds of receiving a downward departure (lenient sentencing) and the magnitude of the sentence discount imposed. Particular attention was paid to whether any effects worked to the detriment of Mexicans relative to non-Mexicans. The findings revealed that the effect of immigration status was contingent on offenders' national origin for the departure decision, but not the sentence discount. While being undocumented served to decrease the odds of a downward departure regardless of national origin, the effects were greater for Mexicans than for non-Mexicans. These findings indicate that contrary to the goals of the U.S. sentencing guidelines to reduce unwarranted disparities surrounding national origin, the current federal sentencing structure allows them to thrive.

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A Wise Latina or a Baffled Rookie? Media Coverage of Justice Sonia Sotomayor's Ascent to the Bench

Terri Towner & Rosalee Clawson

Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, Summer 2016, Pages 316-340

Abstract:
We examine newspaper coverage of the US Supreme Court confirmation process to investigate whether Sonia Sotomayor received different coverage than other nominees due to her status as a minority woman. Sotomayor was the only justice seated over the last three decades who received extensive attention to her race and gender, and her coverage was more negatively toned than that received by other nominees. Compared to her counterparts, the press downplayed her intellectual abilities, devoted more negative attention to her judicial temperament, and suggested she would struggle to adjust to her new role. We examine explanations for why Sotomayor received different coverage and conclude that the intersectionality of ethnicity and gender best explains the media's characterization of her.

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The Perfect Match: Do Criminal Stereotypes Bias Forensic Evidence Analysis?

Laura Smalarz et al.

Law and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research provided the first empirical test of the hypothesis that stereotypes bias evaluations of forensic evidence. A pilot study (N = 107) assessed the content and consensus of 20 criminal stereotypes by identifying perpetrator characteristics (e.g., sex, race, age, religion) that are stereotypically associated with specific crimes. In the main experiment (N = 225), participants read a mock police incident report involving either a stereotyped crime (child molestation) or a nonstereotyped crime (identity theft) and judged whether a suspect's fingerprint matched a fingerprint recovered at the crime scene. Accompanying the suspect's fingerprint was personal information about the suspect of the type that is routinely available to fingerprint analysts (e.g., race, sex) and which could activate a stereotype. Participants most often perceived the fingerprints to match when the suspect fit the criminal stereotype, even though the prints did not actually match. Moreover, participants appeared to be unaware of the extent to which a criminal stereotype had biased their evaluations. These findings demonstrate that criminal stereotypes are a potential source of bias in forensic evidence analysis and suggest that suspects who fit criminal stereotypes may be disadvantaged over the course of the criminal justice process.

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The biasing effect of the "sexually violent predator" label on legal decisions

Nicholas Scurich, Jennifer Gongola & Daniel Krauss

International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Public fear has driven legislation designed to identify and exclude sexual offenders from society, culminating in sexually violent predator (SVP) statutes, in which a sex offender who has served his prison sentence is hospitalized indefinitely if a jury determines that he is likely to reoffend as a result of a mental disorder. Jurors rarely vote not to commit a previously-convicted sex offender as an SVP. This study tests whether the mere label of "sexually violent predator" affects these legal decisions. Venire jurors (n = 161) were asked to decide whether an individual who had been incarcerated for 16 years should be released on parole. The individual was either labeled as a.) a sexually violent predator or b.) a convicted felon, and all other information was identical between the conditions. Jurors were over twice as likely to deny parole to the SVP compared to the felon, even though they did not consider him any more dangerous or any more likely to reoffend. Demographic variables did not moderate this finding. However, jurors' desire to 'get revenge' and to 'make the offender pay', as measured by Gerber and Jackson's (2013) Just Deserts Scale, did significantly relate to decisions to deny parole. These findings suggest that jurors' decisions in SVP hearings are driven by legally impermissible considerations, and that the mere label of "sexually violent predator" induces bias into the decision making process.

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The Two Opposing Effects of Judicial Elections on Legitimacy Perceptions

Benjamin Woodson

State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Judicial elections have two opposing effects on legitimacy perceptions for state supreme courts. Elections not only provide a boost to legitimacy through the chance to hold officials accountable but also involve campaign activity that decreases legitimacy perceptions. This article examines these two opposing effects using a nationally representative survey that includes items assessing diffuse support for state supreme courts. It uses multiple indicators to differentiate between states with highly active election systems involving large amounts of campaign activity and states with less active elections systems that involve little campaign activity. The results from the survey show that the legitimacy of elected courts is higher than appointed courts but only in states with little election activity. In states with high amounts of election activity, the legitimacy of elected courts is lower than appointed courts.

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Evaluating the privacy properties of telephone metadata

Jonathan Mayer, Patrick Mutchler & John Mitchell

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 May 2016, Pages 5536-5541

Abstract:
Since 2013, a stream of disclosures has prompted reconsideration of surveillance law and policy. One of the most controversial principles, both in the United States and abroad, is that communications metadata receives substantially less protection than communications content. Several nations currently collect telephone metadata in bulk, including on their own citizens. In this paper, we attempt to shed light on the privacy properties of telephone metadata. Using a crowdsourcing methodology, we demonstrate that telephone metadata is densely interconnected, can trivially be reidentified, and can be used to draw sensitive inferences.

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Magna Carta: The Rule of Law in Early Common Law Litigation

Thomas Lund

International Review of Law and Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Activist judges are often accused of changing the rule of law into the rule of men. Some Americans are disturbed by U. S. Supreme Court decisions that create new law, invade state sovereignty, and impose recent standards for sexual conduct. The fourteenth century Court of Common Pleas invented the heretical doctrine that judges have the power to change law. The medieval court implemented new rules, ignored the plain meaning of legislation, and undermined Magna Carta guarantees. This paper explains how a head-strong judge seized power, and violated traditional respect for the rule of law. His innovations are discussed in the context of American judicial activism.

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The saliency of gestural misinformation in the perception of a violent crime

Daniel Gurney, Louise Ellis & Emily Vardon-Hynard

Psychology, Crime & Law, Summer 2016, Pages 651-665

Abstract:
Recent research has revealed that misinformation from gestures can influence eyewitness memory. However, it is still unclear whether gestural misinformation can emulate the effects of verbal misinformation on the reporting of major details in serious crimes. To investigate the salience of suggestions provided nonverbally, and how these compare to those made verbally, two experiments were conducted. In Experiment 1, participants watched footage of a crime scene and were presented with one of two types of gestures during questioning that suggested different interpretations of the crime. The results confirmed that the gestures influenced responses, with participants altering their interpretation of the crime according to the information gestured to them. Experiment 2 built on this to investigate how comparable gestural influence was to verbal influence. The results revealed that gestural misinformation caused participants to alter their interpretation of the crime and elicited the same effects as verbal misinformation. Across the two experiments, participants were unlikely to identify the misleading gestures or report feeling misled by them. These results reveal new insights into the strength of gestural misinformation and show that, despite their subtle nature in communication, gestures can exert a powerful influence in eyewitness interviews.

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Merchant Courts, Arbitration, and the Politics of Commercial Litigation in the Eighteenth-Century British Empire

Christian Burset

Law and History Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article offers the first explanation of why Britain, unlike other major European economic powers, did not create merchant courts in the eighteenth century, and instead chose to resolve commercial disputes either through litigation in "ordinary" courts or through arbitration. From the Restoration until the 1750s, lawyers successfully resisted the development of merchant courts in order to protect their monopoly on litigation. (Such courts did emerge in the colonies, however, where the legal profession was less powerful.) In the 1760s, the need for a merchant court became more acute, as litigation levels rose, legal costs skyrocketed, and some merchants complained that existing methods of arbitration were inadequate. But just as merchant courts offered the greatest practical appeal, political polarization impeded institutional innovation, as radical Whigs became increasing unyielding in their opposition to any new court that might undermine civil juries. Meanwhile, various improvements in common law litigation, especially the expanded use of merchant juries, reduced pressure for more fundamental reform and allowed political concerns to predominate. As a result, an enduring fiction emerged that in the Anglo-American legal tradition, litigants resolved their disputes either privately or before courts of general jurisdiction - a fiction that continues to shape our assumptions about civil litigation.

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Strategic Anticipation of En Banc Review in the U.S. Courts of Appeals

Rachael Hinkle

Law & Society Review, June 2016, Pages 383-414

Abstract:
The quest for empirical evidence of strategic judicial behavior has produced mixed results. This study finds such evidence in the decisions made while crafting an opinion. Central to any opinion is which precedents are cited and whether their scope is limited (negative treatment) or expanded (positive treatment). I look for evidence of strategic anticipation of en banc review in these decisions using an original dataset of published search and seizure cases from the U.S. Courts of Appeals from 1953 to 2010. A panel is less likely to negatively treat a precedent with which the full circuit is more closely aligned. Circuit preferences also have an effect on citation itself, but only when the panel is at least moderately aligned with a precedent. Moreover, the panel's own ideology is only a significant predictor of citation when the full circuit is favorably disposed toward a particular precedent.

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The Impact of Police Deployment on Racial Disparities in Discretionary Searches

Steven Briggs & Kelsey Keimig

Race and Justice, forthcoming

Abstract:
A large and growing body of research finds racial disparities in discretionary searches of drivers during traffic stops with Black drivers disproportionately involved in these investigations. Among the explanations for these disparities is the deployment hypothesis which suggests that as police departments increasingly adopt hot spots policing strategies, proactive traffic stops and discretionary searches may spatially cluster around crime hot spots contributing to racial disparities. The present study builds on the existing research literature by identifying hot spots using reported crime data from a police department and examining whether these crime hot spots function as a mediating factor to the relationship between driver race and discretionary searches. Findings provide partial support for the deployment hypothesis. While nearly half of all traffic stops transpired within one quarter mile of hot spots and more frequently involved Black drivers, stops involving Black drivers remained more likely to include discretionary searches and increased concomitantly with distance from the nearest hot spot.

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Police Endorse Color-Blind Racial Beliefs More Than Laypersons

Cris Hughes et al.

Race and Social Problems, June 2016, Pages 160-170

Abstract:
Racial disparities in the US criminal justice system (CJS) have been extensively documented in scholarly work. Critical race scholars have suggested that color-blind racial attitudes inform the set of beliefs that CJS practitioners use in decision making. If this is the case, factors that are related to color-blind racial attitude trends in CJS practitioners must be better understood. We focus on a single CJS practitioner - the police - to assess their color-blind racial beliefs and compare these to the broader US public. Using the Color-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale (CoBRAS), we identified sociodemographic variables associated with high CoBRAS scores in a multiracial lay sample (N = 1401; males and females, mean age = 33.4 years). Police (N = 112) and police recruits (N = 52) CoBRAS scores were compared to CoBRAS scores of lay participants with similar sociodemographics as the police and recruit samples, (respectively, N = 451; N = 291). Police scored significantly higher on the CoBRAS than laypersons even when controlling for sociodemographic variables. Police recruits also have higher CoBRAS scores than laypersons, again controlling for sociodemographic variables. These findings suggest that police work attracts people who endorse color-blind racial beliefs. These findings make understanding the relationship between color-blind racial beliefs and discriminatory behavior of CJS practitioners imperative.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Diversification

Holistic Admissions After Affirmative Action: Does “Maximizing” the High School Curriculum Matter?

Michael Bastedo, Joseph Howard & Allyson Flaster

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, June 2016, Pages 389-409

Abstract:
Selective colleges and universities purport to consider students’ achievement in the context of the academic opportunities available in their high schools. Thus, students who “maximize” their curricular opportunities should be more likely to gain admission. Using nationally representative data, we examine the effect of “maximizing the curriculum” on admission to selective colleges. We find that curriculum maximization has very little effect on students’ probability of college admission outside of states with affirmative action bans. Low-income students are less likely to maximize their high school curriculum, and underrepresented racial minority students are both less likely to maximize their high school curriculum and less likely to benefit from doing so when applying to colleges in states that ban affirmative action. Thus, even if widely diffused, holistic admissions practices may be unlikely to adequately reduce race or class disparities in higher education.

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Ban the Box, Criminal Records, and Statistical Discrimination: A Field Experiment

Amanda Agan & Sonja Starr

University of Michigan Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
“Ban-the-Box” (BTB) policies restrict employers from asking about applicants’ criminal histories on job applications and are often presented as a means of reducing unemployment among black men, who disproportionately have criminal records. However, withholding information about criminal records could risk encouraging statistical discrimination: employers may make assumptions about criminality based on the applicant’s race. To investigate this possibility as well as the effects of race and criminal records on employer callback rates, we sent approximately 15,000 fictitious online job applications to employers in New Jersey and New York City, in waves before and after each jurisdiction’s adoption of BTB policies. Our causal effect estimates are based on a triple-differences design, which exploits the fact that many businesses’ applications did not ask about records even before BTB and were thus unaffected by the law. Our results confirm that criminal records are a major barrier to employment, but they also support the concern that BTB policies encourage statistical discrimination on the basis of race. Overall, white applicants received 23% more callbacks than similar black applicants (38% more in New Jersey; 6% more in New York City; we also find that the white advantage is much larger in whiter neighborhoods). Employers that ask about criminal records are 62% more likely to call back an applicant if he has no record (45% in New Jersey; 78% in New York City) — an effect that BTB compliance necessarily eliminates. However, we find that the race gap in callbacks grows dramatically at the BTB-affected companies after the policy goes into effect. Before BTB, white applicants to BTB-affected employers received about 7% more callbacks than similar black applicants, but BTB increases this gap to 45%.

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The costs and benefits of enrolling in an academically matched college

Jessica Howell & Matea Pender

Economics of Education Review, April 2016, Pages 152–168

Abstract:
In response to increased efforts to raise college completion rates through improved academic match between students and their colleges, we examine the costs and benefits to students of following such advice as well as the impact on postsecondary institutions. We analyze data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, the College Board, the National Student Clearinghouse, and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System to estimate the impact of improved academic match on students’ predicted net price and bachelor's completion probabilities. The results indicate that undermatching low-income students across the distribution of academic ability would experience a substantial boost in bachelor's degree completion probability – 13.5% points, on average – if they attended a college that better matched their academic credentials. Given this average effect and the number of undermatched low-income students who are minimally “treated” under our simulation, we predict that an additional 3500 low-income students per cohort would complete a bachelor's degree. We find that moving all undermatched low-income students into “safety” colleges would not overly burden this set of institutions, which, on average, would only need to increase the size of first-year cohorts by less than 1%. Moreover, such colleges would experience no change in average SAT scores and overall graduation rates. One estimate of the financial impact on colleges is substantial (i.e., on average, $6.5 M–7.5 M annually per cohort per institution that has a simulated net gain in enrollment) if institutions cover full tuition and fees for these additional low-income students.

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Teaching a lay theory before college narrows achievement gaps at scale

David Yeager et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 14 June 2016, Pages E3341–E3348

Abstract:
Previous experiments have shown that college students benefit when they understand that challenges in the transition to college are common and improvable and, thus, that early struggles need not portend a permanent lack of belonging or potential. Could such an approach — called a lay theory intervention — be effective before college matriculation? Could this strategy reduce a portion of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic achievement gaps for entire institutions? Three double-blind experiments tested this possibility. Ninety percent of first-year college students from three institutions were randomly assigned to complete single-session, online lay theory or control materials before matriculation (n > 9,500). The lay theory interventions raised first-year full-time college enrollment among students from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds exiting a high-performing charter high school network or entering a public flagship university (experiments 1 and 2) and, at a selective private university, raised disadvantaged students’ cumulative first-year grade point average (experiment 3). These gains correspond to 31–40% reductions of the raw (unadjusted) institutional achievement gaps between students from disadvantaged and nondisadvantaged backgrounds at those institutions. Further, follow-up surveys suggest that the interventions improved disadvantaged students’ overall college experiences, promoting use of student support services and the development of friendship networks and mentor relationships. This research therefore provides a basis for further tests of the generalizability of preparatory lay theories interventions and of their potential to reduce social inequality and improve other major life transitions.

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Preference for the Diversity Policy Label Versus the Affirmative Action Policy Label

Madeleine Fugère et al.

Social Justice Research, June 2016, Pages 206-227

Abstract:
Study 1 assessed associations with the labels “diversity policy” (DP) and “affirmative action policy” (AAP) and perceptions of potential policy components. Student and community participants (N = 143) completed a survey assessing associations with one of the policy labels. Both policies evoked similar associations such as “race/minorities” and “equality/equal opportunity,” but the AAP was more often associated with “bias/inequality/discrimination,” “unfairness,” and “racism/prejudice.” When rating potential policy components, reverse discrimination was considered more likely under the AAP. In Study 2 we explored the evaluation of equivalent policy components associated with different policy labels. Student participants (N = 126) rated the policy labeled as the DP more favorably than the AAP. Both studies suggest more favorable attitudes toward the DP label.

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Colorism and educational outcomes of Asian Americans: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health

Igor Ryabov

Social Psychology of Education, June 2016, Pages 303-324

Abstract:
Using a nationally representative longitudinal data set, the current study examines the link between colorism and educational attainment of Asian American young adults. Three levels of educational attainment are used as outcomes: high school diploma, some college and a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Independent variables include skin tone, ethnic origin, parental income and education, family structure, parental involvement, family social support and others. Given the fact that colorism affects genders disparately, the analyses are conducted separately for males and females. The findings suggest that, compared to their co-ethnics with light brown skin tone, Asian American males and females with white skin are more likely to be college educated. Conversely, the odds of getting a Bachelor’s degree or higher are significantly higher for Asian Americans with light skin tone than for their co-ethnics with dark brown skin tone. All in all, the findings point to the pattern of the inverse relationship between educational attainment and the darkness of skin tone.

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Can Admissions Percent Plans Lead to Better Collegiate Fit for Minority Students?

Kalena Cortes & Jane Arnold Lincove

American Economic Review, May 2016, Pages 348-354

Abstract:
Why do so many students mismatch when choosing a college? A plausible hypothesis is a lack of information about the likelihood of admission. This study contributes to the literature on mismatch by testing whether public university automatic admissions policies mitigate academic undermatch and promote academic overmatch by providing some students with admissions certainty. Focusing on the interaction of admissions certainty and race/ethnicity, our results support the hypothesis that a priori admissions information can vastly improve minority access to college quality by encouraging eligible students to apply to, and more importantly, enroll in more challenging institutions.

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Blaming the Building: How Venue Quality Influences Consumer Bias Against Stigmatized Leaders

Derek Avery, Patrick McKay & Sabrina Volpone

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Because stigmatized individuals are viewed as incongruent with commonly held implicit leadership theories, they are often deemed less fit to lead than their nonstigmatized counterparts (Eagly & Karau, 2002). This suggests consumers might use such views to discredit not only stigmatized leaders, but also the companies they represent. However, cognition based on social categories (1 potential form of stigma) may be more likely when there are readily available alternative factors to account for one’s decisions via casuistry. Across 2 complementary studies (field and experiment), we find that customers react negatively to stigmatized leaders only when the physical state of the company venue provides an ostensible defense to mask their biased behavior. When facilities are of lower quality, consumers appear to use a leader’s stigma to infer lower product quality, coinciding in less patronage for companies with stigmatized as opposed to nonstigmatized leaders. Thus, consumers penalize companies with stigmatized leaders only when doing so can easily be attributed to an alternative factor (e.g., a lower quality venue) not involving the leader’s stigma.

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Supply and Demand for Discrimination: Strategic Revelation of Own Characteristics in a Trust Game

Anthony Heyes & John List

American Economic Review, May 2016, Pages 319-323

Abstract:
In strategic settings a player may be able to influence the behavior of an opponent by revealing information about their own characteristics. They may for example aim to exploit stereotypes held by others. We provide an experimental test of this. A substantial fraction of players in a trust game exhibit a positive willingness to pay to reveal a photograph of themselves to their randomly-assigned partner. This suggests that they perceive that they can use their own characteristics to influence the behavior of others. The demand for such self-revelation depends negatively on price.

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Differences in incomes of physicians in the United States by race and sex: Observational study

Dan Ly, Seth Seabury & Anupam Jena

British Medical Journal, June 2016

Participants: The 2000-13 American Community Survey (ACS) included 43 213 white male, 1698 black male, 15 164 white female, and 1252 black female physicians. The 2000-08 Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) physician surveys included 12 843 white male, 518 black male, 3880 white female, and 342 black female physicians.

Main outcome measures: Annual income adjusted for age, hours worked, time period, and state of residence (from ACS data). Income was adjusted for age, specialty, hours worked, time period, years in practice, practice type, and percentage of revenue from Medicare/Medicaid (from HSC physician surveys).

Results: White male physicians had a higher median annual income than black male physicians, whereas race was not consistently associated with median income among female physicians. For example, in 2010-13 in the ACS, white male physicians had an adjusted median annual income of $253 042 (95% confidence interval $248 670 to $257 413) compared with $188 230 ($170 844 to $205 616) for black male physicians (difference $64 812; P<0.001). White female physicians had an adjusted median annual income of $163 234 ($159 912 to 166 557) compared with $152 784 ($137 927 to $167 641) for black female physicians (difference $10 450; P=0.17). $100 000 is currently equivalent to about £69 000 (€89 000). Patterns were unaffected by adjustment for specialty and characteristics of practice in the HSC physician surveys.

Conclusions: White male physicians earn substantially more than black male physicians, after adjustment for characteristics of physicians and practices, while white and black female physicians earn similar incomes to each other, but significantly less than their male counterparts. Whether these differences reflect disparities in job opportunities is important to determine.

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Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and National Institutes of Health R01 Research Awards: Is There Evidence of a Double Bind for Women of Color?

Donna Ginther, Shulamit Kahn & Walter Schaffer

Academic Medicine, forthcoming

Method: The authors used data from the NIH Information for Management, Planning, Analysis, and Coordination grants management database for the years 2000-2006 to examine gender differences and race/ethnicity-specific gender differences in the probability of receiving an R01 Type 1 award. The authors used descriptive statistics and probit models to determine the relationship between gender, race/ethnicity, degree, investigator experience, and R01 award probability, controlling for a large set of observable characteristics.

Results: White women PhDs and MDs were as likely as white men to receive an R01 award. Compared with white women, Asian and black women PhDs and black women MDs were significantly less likely to receive funding. Women submitted fewer grant applications, and blacks and women who were new investigators were more likely to submit only one application between 2000 and 2006.

Conclusions: Differences by race/ethnicity explain the NIH funding gap for women of color, as white women have a slight advantage over men in receiving Type 1 awards. Findings of a lower submission rate for women and an increased likelihood that they will submit only one proposal are consistent with research showing that women avoid competition. Policies designed to address the racial and ethnic diversity of the biomedical workforce have the potential to improve funding outcomes for women of color.

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Wanting to See People Like Me? Racial and Gender Diversity in Popular Adolescent Television

Morgan Ellithorpe & Amy Bleakley

Journal of Youth and Adolescence, July 2016, Pages 1426-1437

Abstract:
Media are one source for adolescent identity development and social identity gratifications. Nielsen viewing data across the 2014–2015 television season for adolescents ages 14–17 was used to examine racial and gender diversity in adolescent television exposure. Compared to US Census data, mainstream shows under represent women, but the proportion of Black characters is roughly representative. Black adolescents watch more television than non-Black adolescents and, after taking this into account, shows popular with Black adolescents are more likely than shows popular with non-Black adolescents to exhibit racial diversity. In addition, shows popular with female adolescents are more likely than shows popular with males to exhibit gender diversity. These results support the idea that adolescents seek out media messages with characters that are members of their identity groups, possibly because the characters serve as tools for identity development and social identity gratifications.

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Math-oriented fields of study and the race gap in graduation likelihoods at elite colleges

Dafna Gelbgiser & Sigal Alon

Social Science Research, July 2016, Pages 150–164

Abstract:
This study examines the relationship between chosen field of study and the race gap in college completion among students at elite colleges. Fields of study are characterized by varying institutional arrangements, which impact the academic performance of students in higher education. If the effect of fields on graduation likelihoods is unequal across racial groups, then this may account for part of the overall race gap in college completion. Results from a large sample of students attending elite colleges confirm that fields of study influence the graduation likelihoods of all students, above and beyond factors such as students’ academic and social backgrounds. This effect, however, is asymmetrical: relative to white students, the negative effect of the institutional arrangements of math-oriented fields on graduation likelihood is greater for black students. Therefore, the race gap is larger within math-oriented fields than in other fields, which contributes to the overall race gap in graduation likelihoods at these selective colleges. These results indicate that a nontrivial share of the race gap in college completion is generated after matriculation, by the environments that students encounter in college. Consequently, policy interventions that target field of study environments can substantially mitigate racial disparities in college graduation rates.

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Distribution, Composition and Exclusion: How School Segregation Impacts Racist Disciplinary Patterns

Kendralin Freeman & Christina Steidl

Race and Social Problems, June 2016, Pages 171-185

Abstract:
This paper investigates a broad two-pronged social problem: the persistent segregation and fragmentation of school districts alongside the disproportionate application of school discipline to students of color. Previous work suggests many factors within schools that contribute to the unequal application of school discipline. We use hierarchical linear modeling to move beyond this immediate school context and ask how broader social processes, specifically multiple forms of school segregation, impact the disproportionate discipline administered to black students in secondary schools. Results demonstrate that schools located in more segregated districts tend to have lower racial disparities in suspensions for black students, thus painting a complex picture of the consequences of segregated schooling for students of color. The findings suggest that racial inequality can arise in many guises and that efforts to create racially integrated schools do not release districts from other important work related to racial equity. Integrated school districts should be even more concerned with creating policies and practices to raise awareness of and reduce racial disparities, specifically in school discipline.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

They care

Achieving Kaiser Permanente quality

Matthew McHugh et al.

Health Care Management Review, July/September 2016, Pages 178–188

Background: The Kaiser Permanente model of integrated health delivery is highly regarded for high-quality and efficient health care. Efforts to reproduce Kaiser’s success have mostly failed. One factor that has received little attention and that could explain Kaiser’s advantage is its commitment to and investment in nursing as a key component of organizational culture and patient-centered care.

Methodology: This was a cross-sectional analysis of linked secondary data from multiple sources, including a detailed survey of nurses, for 564 adult, general acute care hospitals from California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey in 2006–2007. We used logistic regression models to examine whether patient (mortality and failure-to-rescue) and nurse (burnout, job satisfaction, and intent-to-leave) outcomes in Kaiser hospitals were better than in non-Kaiser hospitals. We then assessed whether differences in nursing explained outcomes differences between Kaiser and other hospitals. Finally, we examined whether Kaiser hospitals compared favorably with hospitals known for having excellent nurse work environments — Magnet hospitals.

Findings: Patient and nurse outcomes in Kaiser hospitals were significantly better compared with non-Magnet hospitals. Kaiser hospitals had significantly better nurse work environments, staffing levels, and more nurses with bachelor’s degrees. Differences in nursing explained a significant proportion of the Kaiser outcomes advantage. Kaiser hospital outcomes were comparable with Magnet hospitals, where better outcomes have been largely explained by differences in nursing.

Implications: An important element in Kaiser’s success is its investment in professional nursing, which may not be evident to systems seeking to achieve Kaiser’s advantage. Our results suggest that a possible strategy for achieving outcomes like Kaiser may be for hospitals to consider Magnet designation, a proven and cost-effective strategy to improve process of care through investments in nursing.

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Effect of physician disclosure of specialty bias on patient trust and treatment choice

Sunita Sah, Angela Fagerlin & Peter Ubel

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 5 July 2016, Pages 7465–7469

Abstract:
This paper explores the impact of disclosures of bias on advisees. Disclosure — informing advisees of a potential bias — is a popular solution for managing conflicts of interest. Prior research has focused almost exclusively on disclosures of financial conflicts of interest but little is known about how disclosures of other types of biases could impact advisees. In medicine, for example, physicians often recommend the treatment they specialize in; e.g., surgeons are more likely to recommend surgery than nonsurgeons. In recognition of this bias, some physicians inform patients about their specialty bias when other similarly effective treatment options exist. Using field data (recorded transcripts of surgeon–patient consultations) from Veteran Affairs hospitals and a randomized controlled laboratory experiment, we examine and find that disclosures of specialty bias increase patients’ trust and their likelihood of choosing a treatment in accordance with the physicians’ specialty. Physicians in the field also increased the strength of their recommendation to have the specialty treatment when they disclosed their bias or discussed the opportunity for the patient to seek a consultation with a physician from another specialty. These findings have important implications for handling advisor bias, shared advisor–advisee decision-making, and disclosure policies.

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The Determinants of Productivity in Medical Testing: Intensity and Allocation of Care

Jason Abaluck et al.

American Economics Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
A large body of research has investigated whether physicians overuse care. There is less evidence on whether, for a fixed level of spending, doctors allocate resources to patients with the highest expected returns. We assess both sources of inefficiency exploiting variation in rates of negative imaging tests for pulmonary embolism. We document enormous across-doctor heterogeneity in testing conditional on patient population, which explains the negative relationship between physicians’ testing rates and test yields. Furthermore, doctors do not target testing to the highest risk patients, reducing test yields by one third. Our calibration suggests misallocation is more costly than overuse.

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Pharmaceutical Industry–Sponsored Meals and Physician Prescribing Patterns for Medicare Beneficiaries

Colette DeJong et al.

JAMA Internal Medicine, forthcoming

Design, Setting, and Participants: Cross-sectional analysis of industry payment data from the federal Open Payments Program for August 1 through December 31, 2013, and prescribing data for individual physicians from Medicare Part D, for all of 2013. Participants were physicians who wrote Medicare prescriptions in any of 4 drug classes: statins, cardioselective β-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ACE inhibitors and ARBs), and selective serotonin and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs and SNRIs). We identified physicians who received industry-sponsored meals promoting the most-prescribed brand-name drug in each class (rosuvastatin, nebivolol, olmesartan, and desvenlafaxine, respectively). Data analysis was performed from August 20, 2015, to December 15, 2015.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Prescribing rates of promoted drugs compared with alternatives in the same class, after adjustment for physician prescribing volume, demographic characteristics, specialty, and practice setting.

Results: A total of 279 669 physicians received 63 524 payments associated with the 4 target drugs. Ninety-five percent of payments were meals, with a mean value of less than $20. Rosuvastatin represented 8.8% (SD, 9.9%) of statin prescriptions; nebivolol represented 3.3% (7.4%) of cardioselective β-blocker prescriptions; olmesartan represented 1.6% (3.9%) of ACE inhibitor and ARB prescriptions; and desvenlafaxine represented 0.6% (2.6%) of SSRI and SNRI prescriptions. Physicians who received a single meal promoting the drug of interest had higher rates of prescribing rosuvastatin over other statins (odds ratio [OR], 1.18; 95% CI, 1.17-1.18), nebivolol over other β-blockers (OR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.69-1.72), olmesartan over other ACE inhibitors and ARBs (OR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.51-1.53), and desvenlafaxine over other SSRIs and SNRIs (OR, 2.18; 95% CI, 2.13-2.23). Receipt of additional meals and receipt of meals costing more than $20 were associated with higher relative prescribing rates.

Conclusions and Relevance: Receipt of industry-sponsored meals was associated with an increased rate of prescribing the brand-name medication that was being promoted. The findings represent an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship.

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Primary Care Appointment Availability and Nonphysician Providers One Year After Medicaid Expansion

Renuka Tipirneni et al.

American Journal of Managed Care, June 2016, Pages 427-431

Objectives: With insurance enrollment greater than expected under the Affordable Care Act, uncertainty about the availability and timeliness of healthcare services for newly insured individuals has increased. We examined primary care appointment availability and wait times for new Medicaid and privately insured patients before and after Medicaid expansion in Michigan.

Methods: Extended follow-up of a previously reported simulated patient (“secret shopper”) study assessing accessibility of routine new patient appointments in a stratified proportionate random sample of Michigan primary care practices before versus 4, 8, and 12 months after Medicaid expansion.

Results: During the study period, approximately 600,000 adults enrolled in Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program, representing 57% of the previously uninsured nonelderly adult population. One year after expansion, we found that appointment availability remained increased by 6 percentage points for new Medicaid patients (95% CI, 1.6-11.1) and decreased by 2 percentage points for new privately insured patients (95% CI, –0.5 to –3.8). Over the same period, the proportion of appointments scheduled with nonphysician providers (nurse practitioners or physician assistants) increased from 8% to 21% of Medicaid appointments (95% CI, 5.6-20.2) and from 11% to 19% of private-insurance appointments (95% CI, 1.3-14.1). Median wait times remained stable for new Medicaid patients and increased slightly for new privately insured patients, both remaining within 2 weeks.

Conclusions: During the first year following Medicaid expansion in Michigan, appointment availability for new Medicaid patients increased, a greater proportion of appointments could be obtained with nonphysician providers, and wait times remained within 2 weeks.

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Insurance and the High Prices of Pharmaceuticals

David Besanko, David Dranove & Craig Garthwaite

NBER Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
We present a model in which prospective patients are liquidity constrained, and thus health insurance allows patients access to treatments and services that they otherwise would have been unable to afford. Consistent with large expansions of insurance in the U.S. (e.g., the Affordable Care Act), we assume that policies expand the set of services that must be covered by insurance. We show that the profit-maximizing price for an innovative treatment is greater in the presence of health insurance than it would be for an uninsured population. We also show that consumer surplus is less than it would be if the innovation was not covered. These results show that even in the absence of moral hazard, there are channels through which insurance can negatively affect consumer welfare. Our model also provides an economic rationale for the claim that pharmaceutical firms set prices that exceed the value their products create. We empirically examine our model's predictions by studying the pricing of oncology drugs following the 2003 passage of Medicare Part D. Prior to 2003, drugs covered under Medicare Part B had higher prices than those that would eventually be covered under Part D. In general, the trends in pricing across these categories were similar. However, after 2003 there was a far greater increase in prices for products covered under Part D, and as result, products covered by both programs were sold at similar prices. In addition, these prices were quite high compared to the value created by the products --- suggesting that the forced bundle of Part D might have allowed firms to capture more value than their products created.

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The Growing Integration of Physician Practices: With a Medicaid Side Effect

Michael Richards, Sayeh Nikpay & John Graves

Medical Care, July 2016, Pages 714–718

Objectives: We track the organizational landscape among all office-based US physician practices from 2009 to 2015 and document the degree of vertical integration over time. Then, we examine the implications of vertical integration on practices’ acceptance of publicly insured patients.

Research Design: We use descriptive trends and linear regression models with practice level fixed effects to capture the relationships between within-office changes in integration behavior and changes in public payer acceptance.

Results: Independent (nonintegrated) physician practices are still the most common organizational type, but their share is declining as the share of practices integrated with a health system increases 3-fold between 2009 and 2015. Although >80% of practices that are part of a health system accept Medicaid, <60% of independent practices will see these patients. Vertically integrating with a health system makes it more likely a practice will start seeing Medicaid patients.

Conclusions: Integration — and possibly consolidation — appears to be occurring and may be increasing over time in the United States. However, it also seems to increase the number of physician practices participating in the Medicaid program. This beneficial side effect has not been previously documented and should be kept in mind as policymakers weigh the pros and cons of a more integrated health care system.

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Risk-Adjustment Simulation: Plans May Have Incentives To Distort Mental Health And Substance Use Coverage

Ellen Montz et al.

Health Affairs, June 2016, Pages 1022-1028

Abstract:
Under the Affordable Care Act, the risk-adjustment program is designed to compensate health plans for enrolling people with poorer health status so that plans compete on cost and quality rather than the avoidance of high-cost individuals. This study examined health plan incentives to limit covered services for mental health and substance use disorders under the risk-adjustment system used in the health insurance Marketplaces. Through a simulation of the program on a population constructed to reflect Marketplace enrollees, we analyzed the cost consequences for plans enrolling people with mental health and substance use disorders. Our assessment points to systematic underpayment to plans for people with these diagnoses. We document how Marketplace risk adjustment does not remove incentives for plans to limit coverage for services associated with mental health and substance use disorders. Adding mental health and substance use diagnoses used in Medicare Part D risk adjustment is one potential policy step toward addressing this problem in the Marketplaces.

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Health insurance reform and part-time work: Evidence from Massachusetts

Marcus Dillender, Carolyn Heinrich & Susan Houseman

Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
A concern with requiring employers to provide health insurance to full-time employees is that employers may increase their use of part-time workers to circumvent the mandate. In this paper, we study the effect of the employer mandate in the Massachusetts health insurance reform on part-time work using a difference-in-differences strategy that compares changes in part-time work in Massachusetts after the reform to changes in various control groups. We find strong evidence that the Massachusetts employer mandate increased part-time employment among low-educated workers and some evidence that it increased part-time employment among younger workers. Our estimate of a 1.7 percentage point increase in part-time employment among workers without a college degree suggests that lower-skilled workers may be vulnerable to having their hours cut so that employers do not have to offer them health insurance.

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Strategic Formulary Design in Medicare Part D Plans

Kurt Lavetti & Kosali Simon

NBER Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
The design of Medicare Part D causes most Medicare beneficiaries to receive fragmented health insurance, whereby prescription drugs and other medical care are covered by separate insurance plans. Fragmentation of insurance plans is potentially inefficient since separate insurers maximize profits over only one component of healthcare spending, despite many complementarities and substitutabilities between types of healthcare. Fragmentation of some plans but not others can also lead to market distortions due to differential adverse selection, as integrated plans may use drug formulary designs to induce enrollment by patients who are profitable under Parts A & B, while stand-alone drug plans have no such incentive. We study whether the design of insurance plans in Medicare Part D reflects these two differences in incentives using data on the universe of Part D plan formularies, drug prices, and Medicare claims data. We find evidence consistent with both hypotheses. Relative to fragmented plans, integrated plans systematically design their drug formularies to encourage enrollment by beneficiaries with medical conditions that are profitable under Parts A & B. However, integrated plans also more generously cover drugs that have the potential to causally reduce medical costs. These large differences in incentives and plan design between integrated and fragmented plans are likely the precursors of substantial differential selection of enrollees, and the basic design of Medicare Part D abets this covert selection.

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Association between Temporal Changes in Primary Care Workforce and Patient Outcomes

Chiang-Hua Chang, James O'Malley & David Goodman

Health Services Research, forthcoming

Objective: To examine the association between 10-year temporal changes in the primary care workforce and Medicare beneficiaries' outcomes.

Data Sources: 2001 and 2011 American Medical Association Masterfiles and fee-for-service Medicare claims.

Study Design/Methods: We calculated two primary care workforce measures within Primary Care Service Areas: the number of primary care physicians per 10,000 population (per capita) and the number of Medicare primary care full-time equivalents (FTEs) per 10,000 Medicare beneficiaries. The three outcomes were mortality, ambulatory care–sensitive condition (ACSC) hospitalizations, and emergency department (ED) visits. We measured the marginal association between changes in primary care workforce and patient outcomes using Poisson regression models.

Principal Findings: An increase of one primary care physician per 10,000 population was associated with 15.1 fewer deaths per 100,000 and 39.7 fewer ACSC hospitalizations per 100,000 (both p < .05). An increase of one Medicare primary care FTE per 10,000 beneficiaries was associated with 82.8 fewer deaths per 100,000, 160.8 fewer ACSC hospitalizations per 100,000, and 712.3 fewer ED visits per 100,000 (all p < .05).

Conclusions: Medicare beneficiaries' outcomes improved as the number of primary care physicians and their clinical effort increased.

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Labor Supply Effects of Occupational Regulation: Evidence from the Nurse Licensure Compact

Christina DePasquale & Kevin Stange

NBER Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
There is concern that licensure requirements impede mobility of licensed professionals to areas of high demand. Nursing has not been immune to this criticism, especially in the context of perceived nurse shortages and large expected future demand. The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) was introduced to solve this problem by permitting registered nurses to practice across state lines without obtaining additional licensure. We exploit the staggered adoption of the NLC to examine whether a reduction in licensure-induced barriers alters the nurse labor market. Using data on over 1.8 million nurses and other health care workers we find no evidence that the labor supply or mobility of nurses increases following the adoption of the NLC, even among the residents of counties bordering other NLC states who are potentially most affected by the NLC. This suggests that nationalizing occupational licensing will not substantially reduce labor market frictions.

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Changes in Retail Prices of Prescription Dermatologic Drugs From 2009 to 2015

Miranda Rosenberg & Steven Rosenberg

JAMA Dermatology, February 2016, Pages 158-163

Design, Setting, and Participants: Four national chain pharmacies received surveys requesting price data on commonly prescribed dermatologic drugs in 2009, 2011, 2014, and 2015. The initial survey requested information on 72 brand-name drugs. Subsequent surveys increased to eventually include 120 additional brand-name drugs and their generic alternatives when available. Owing to the frequency of prescription, diseases treated, or unusual price increases, 19 brand-name drugs surveyed in all 4 years were selected for final price trend analysis, which was conducted from August 1 to 15, 2015.

Results: Prices of surveyed brand-name drugs increased rapidly between 2009 and 2015. Of the 19 brand-name drugs analyzed, the retail prices of 7 drugs more than quadrupled during the study period. Among these 19 drugs, the mean price increase was 401% during the 6-year survey period, with the majority of the price increases occurring after 2011. Prices of topical antineoplastic drugs had the greatest mean absolute and percentage increase ($10 926.58 [1240%]). Prices of drugs in the antiinfective class had the smallest mean absolute increase ($333.99); prices of psoriasis medications had the smallest mean percentage increase (180%). Prices of acne and rosacea medications increased a mean of 195%, and prices of topical corticosteroids increased a mean of 290% during the study period. Selected generic drugs surveyed in 2011 and 2014 also increased a mean of 279% during the 3-year period.

Conclusions and Relevance: The price of prescription dermatologic drugs rose considerably from 2009 to 2015, with the vast majority of price increases occurring after 2011. Percent increases for multiple, frequently prescribed medications greatly outpaced inflation, national health expenditure growth, and increases in reimbursements for physician services.

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Bundled Payment vs. Fee-for-Service: Impact of Payment Scheme on Performance

Elodie Adida, Hamed Mamani & Shima Nassiri

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Healthcare reimbursements in the United States have been traditionally based on a fee-for-service (FFS) scheme, providing incentives for high volume of care, rather than efficient care. The new healthcare legislation tests new payment models that remove such incentives, such as the bundled payment (BP) system. We consider a population of patients (beneficiaries). The provider may reject patients based on the patient’s cost profile and selects the treatment intensity based on a risk-averse utility function. Treatment may result in success or failure, where failure means that unforeseen complications require further care. Our interest is in analyzing the effect of different payment schemes on outcomes such as the presence and extent of patient selection, the treatment intensity, the provider’s utility and financial risk, and the total system payoff. Our results confirm that FFS provides incentives for excessive treatment intensity and results in suboptimal system payoff. We show that BP could lead to suboptimal patient selection and treatment levels that may be lower or higher than desirable for the system, with a high level of financial risk for the provider. We also find that the performance of BP is extremely sensitive to the bundled payment value and to the provider’s risk aversion. The performance of both BP and FFS degrades when the provider becomes more risk averse. We design two payment systems, hybrid payment and stop-loss mechanisms, that alleviate the shortcomings of FFS and BP and may induce system optimum decisions in a complementary manner.

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Moneyball in Medicare

Edward Norton et al.

NBER Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
US policymakers place a high priority on tying Medicare payments to the value of care delivered. A critical part of this effort is the Hospital Value-based Purchasing Program (HVBP), which rewards or penalizes hospitals based on their quality and episode-based costs of care. Within HVBP, each patient affects hospital performance on a variety of quality and spending measures, and performance translates directly to changes in program points and ultimately dollars. In short, hospital revenue from a patient consists not only of the DRG payment, but also consists of that patient’s marginal future reimbursement. We estimate the magnitude of the marginal future reimbursement for individual patients across each type of quality and performance measure. We describe how those incentives differ across hospitals, including integrated and safety-net hospitals. We find some evidence that hospitals improved their performance over time in the areas where they have the highest marginal incentives to improve care.

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Association Between Medicare Accountable Care Organization Implementation and Spending Among Clinically Vulnerable Beneficiaries

Carrie Colla et al.

JAMA Internal Medicine, forthcoming

Importance: Accountable care contracts hold physician groups financially responsible for the quality and cost of health care delivered to patients. Focusing on clinically vulnerable patients, those with serious conditions who are responsible for the greatest proportion of spending, may result in the largest effects on both patient outcomes and financial rewards for participating physician groups.

Design, Setting, and Participants: For this cohort study, 2 study populations were defined: the overall Medicare population and the clinically vulnerable subgroup of Medicare beneficiaries. The overall Medicare population was based on a random 40% sample drawn from continuously enrolled fee-for-service beneficiaries with at least 1 evaluation and management visit in a calendar year. The clinically vulnerable study population included all Medicare beneficiaries 66 years or older who had at least 3 Hierarchical Condition Categories (HCCs). Beneficiaries entered the cohort during the quarter between January 2009 to December 2011 when they first had at least 3 HCCs and remained in the cohort until death. Cohort entry was restricted to the preperiod to account for potential changes in coding practices after ACO implementation. Difference-in-difference estimations were used to compare changes in health care outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries attributed to physicians in ACOs with those attributed to non-ACO physicians from January 2009 to December 2013.

Results: Total spending decreased by $34 (95% CI, −$52 to −$15) per beneficiary-quarter after ACO contract implementation across the overall Medicare population (n = 15 592 600) and decreased $114 in clinically vulnerable patients (n = 8 673 823) (95% CI, −$178 to −$50). In the overall Medicare cohort, hospitalizations and emergency department visits decreased by 1.3 and 3.0 events per 1000 beneficiaries per quarter, respectively (95% CIs: −2.1 to −0.4 and −4.8 to −1.3), and hospitalizations and emergency department visits decreased in the clinically vulnerable cohort by 2.9 and 4.1 events per 1000 beneficiaries per quarter, respectively (95% CIs: −5.2 to −0.7 and −7.1 to −1.2). Changes in total spending associated with ACOs did not vary by clinical condition of beneficiaries.

Conclusions and Relevance: Medicare ACO programs are associated with modest reductions in spending and use of hospitals and emergency departments. Savings were realized through reductions in use of institutional settings in clinically vulnerable patients.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Fiscal problems

The Permanent Effects of Fiscal Consolidations

Antonio Fatás & Lawrence Summers

NBER Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
The global financial crisis has permanently lowered the path of GDP in all advanced economies. At the same time, and in response to rising government debt levels, many of these countries have been engaging in fiscal consolidations that have had a negative impact on growth rates. We empirically explore the connections between these two facts by extending to longer horizons the methodology of Blanchard and Leigh (2013) regarding fiscal policy multipliers. Our results provide support for the presence of strong hysteresis effects of fiscal policy. The large size of the effects points in the direction of self-defeating fiscal consolidations as suggested by DeLong and Summers (2012). Attempts to reduce debt via fiscal consolidations have very likely resulted in a higher debt to GDP ratio through their long-term negative impact on output.

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A Contagious Malady? Open Economy Dimensions of Secular Stagnation

Gauti Eggertsson et al.

NBER Working Paper, June 2016

Abstract:
Conditions of secular stagnation - low interest rates, below target inflation, and sluggish output growth - characterize much of the global economy. We consider an overlapping generations, open economy model of secular stagnation, and examine the effect of capital flows on the transmission of stagnation. In a world with a low natural rate of interest, greater capital integration transmits recessions across countries as opposed to lower interest rates. In a global secular stagnation, expansionary fiscal policy carries positive spillovers implying gains from coordination, and fiscal policy is self-financing. Expansionary monetary policy, by contrast, is beggar-thy-neighbor with output gains in one country coming at the expense of the other. Similarly, we find that competitiveness policies including structural labor market reforms or neomercantilist trade policies are also beggar-thy-neighbor in a global secular stagnation.

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Millionaire Migration and Taxation of the Elite: Evidence from Administrative Data

Cristobal Young et al.

American Sociological Review, June 2016, Pages 421-446

Abstract:
A growing number of U.S. states have adopted “millionaire taxes” on top income-earners. This increases the progressivity of state tax systems, but it raises concerns about tax flight: elites migrating from high-tax to low-tax states, draining state revenues, and undermining redistributive social policies. Are top income-earners “transitory millionaires” searching for lower-tax places to live? Or are they “embedded elites” who are reluctant to migrate away from places where they have been highly successful? This question is central to understanding the social consequences of progressive taxation. We draw on administrative tax returns for all million-dollar income-earners in the United States over 13 years, tracking the states from which millionaires file their taxes. Our dataset contains 45 million tax records and provides census-scale panel data on top income-earners. We advance two core analyses: (1) state-to-state migration of millionaires over the long-term, and (2) a sharply-focused discontinuity analysis of millionaire population along state borders. We find that millionaire tax flight is occurring, but only at the margins of statistical and socioeconomic significance.

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“Dynamic Scoring”: Why and How to Include Macroeconomic Effects in Budget Estimates for Legislative Proposals

Douglas Elmendorf

Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Fall 2015, Pages 91-149

Abstract:
Official estimates of the budgetary effects of legislative proposals generally include anticipated behavioral responses except for those that would alter overall output or employment. Based on my experience as director of the Congressional Budget Office and on the analysis in this paper, I conclude that such macroeconomic effects of legislative proposals should be included in budget estimates — that is, so-called dynamic scoring should be used — for major (but not minor) proposals and for proposals affecting federal spending as well as revenues. However, such macroeconomic effects should not be included when the estimating agencies do not have the tools or time needed to do a careful analysis of those effects. Current rules governing the official estimating process do not fully meet those conditions.

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Searching for a Tolerable Tax: Public Attitudes toward Roadway Financing Alternatives

Denvil Duncan et al.

Public Finance Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
A growing number of states are pursuing strategies to combat declining fuel tax revenue and fund road construction and maintenance, including the use of sales taxes, income taxes, and tolls; raising fuel tax rates; and adopting road mileage user fees. We use data from a nationally representative survey to compare public acceptability of a mileage user fee with each of these alternative revenue mechanisms. We find that support for the revenue options varies from 13.4 percent for income taxes to 33.8 percent for tolls, with higher gasoline tax rates, mileage user fees, and sales taxes in the middle. The evidence also points to stronger intensity of opposition than intensity of support across all alternatives. Finally, we find that, conditional on opposition to the mileage user fee, public acceptability is highest for tolls, followed by higher fuel taxes, sales taxes, and income taxes. Policy implications are discussed.

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Taxes and leverage at multinational corporations

Michael Faulkender & Jason Smith

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Empirical research has struggled to show that variation in corporate capital structure arises from variation in estimated corporate income tax rates. We argue that, in previous studies, both the tax rates applied to multinational corporations and the taxable income earned have been mismeasured. Using the Bureau of Economic Analysis annual survey sample combined with each firm's income and country specific tax rate, we find that firms do have higher leverage ratios and lower interest coverage ratios when they operate in countries with higher tax rates, as theory would suggest. The trade-off theory of capital structure continues to have empirical support.

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The Domino Effects of Federal Research Funding

Lauren Lanahan, Alexandra Graddy-Reed & Maryann Feldman

PLoS ONE, June 2016

Abstract:
The extent to which federal investment in research crowds out or decreases incentives for investment from other funding sources remains an open question. Scholarship on research funding has focused on the relationship between federal and industry or, more comprehensively, non-federal funding without disentangling the other sources of research support that include nonprofit organizations and state and local governments. This paper extends our understanding of academic research support by considering the relationships between federal and non-federal funding sources provided by the National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development Survey. We examine whether federal research investment serves as a complement or substitute for state and local government, nonprofit, and industry research investment using the population of research-active academic science fields at U.S. doctoral granting institutions. We use a system of two equations that instruments with prior levels of both federal and non-federal funding sources and accounts for time-invariant academic institution-field effects through first differencing. We estimate that a 1% increase in federal research funding is associated with a 0.411% increase in nonprofit research funding, a 0.217% increase in state and local research funding, and a 0.468% increase in industry research funding, respectively. Results indicate that federal funding plays a fundamental role in inducing complementary investments from other funding sources, with impacts varying across academic division, research capacity, and institutional control.

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The Impact of Education Earmarking on State-Level Lottery Sales

Carol Stivender et al.

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

Abstract:
Prior research argues that lottery consumers consider how funds are to be used in making lottery purchase decisions. Possible explanations for this behavior include altruism as well as the desire of low-income families to provide educational opportunities within their community. This paper uses a panel of lottery sales for U.S. states covering the period 1980–2000 to test hypotheses regarding the impact of educational earmarking on lottery purchases. Our estimates suggest that states earmarking all or part of their revenue to education experience an increase in lottery sales between 11 % and 25 %, depending on the specification of state trends. Whether the propensity for earmarking to increase sales is viewed positively or negatively depends largely on one’s ethical and moral views of lotteries.

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Does Government-sponsored Advertising Increase Social Welfare? A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation

Carlos Carpio & Olga Isengildina-Massa

Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, June 2016, Pages 239-259

Abstract:
The main objective of this study was to analyze the effect of advertising on social welfare in a perfectly competitive market where the level of advertising is chosen by a social planner. The theoretical model revealed that social planner-sponsored advertising that increases the equilibrium price of the advertised good can increase society's welfare if the effect of advertising in consumers' utility is higher than the consumer welfare-reducing price effect. The empirical illustration focuses on the U.S. state of South Carolina's “buy local” food products campaign. The findings suggest that this government-sponsored advertising campaign increases total welfare.

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How do corporate tax bases change when corporate tax rates change? With implications for the tax rate elasticity of corporate tax revenues

Laura Kawano & Joel Slemrod

International Tax and Public Finance, June 2016, Pages 401-433

Abstract:
We construct a new database of extensive margin changes to multiple aspects of corporate tax bases for OECD countries between 1980 and 2004. We use our data to systematically document the tendency of countries to implement policies that both lower the corporate tax rate and broaden the corporate tax base. This correlation informs our interpretation of previous estimates of the relationship between corporate tax rates and corporate tax revenues, which typically do not include comprehensive measures of the corporate tax base definition. We then re-examine the relationship between corporate tax rates and corporate tax revenues. We find that accounting for unobserved heterogeneity attenuates the relationship between corporate tax rates and corporate tax revenues, and increases the implied revenue-maximizing tax rate. Controlling for our new tax base measures does not substantively impact the magnitude of this relationship.

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Measuring Consumer Responses to a Bottled Water Tax Policy

Peter Berck et al.

American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using panel data of retail purchases, we measure the effects of the introduction, and later removal, of a bottled-water tax in the state of Washington. We use a difference-in-differences approach to measure effects of the tax against untreated stores (in comparable control states) and untreated weeks (the pre-period). We further estimate triple-difference specifications comparing bottled water to juice and milk substitute products. Our results show that, when imposed, the tax causes bottled water sales to drop by nearly 6% in our preferred specification. Sales never fully recover, even after the tax removal. In terms of the heterogeneity of this effect, we find larger quantity drops in high tax rate areas and in the lowest and highest quintile income areas.

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Behavioral Interventions to Increase Tax-Time Saving: Evidence from a National Randomized Trial

Michal Grinstein-Weiss et al.

Journal of Consumer Affairs, forthcoming

Abstract:
We provide new large-scale experimental evidence on policies that aim to boost household saving out of income tax refunds. Households that filed income tax returns with an online tax preparer and chose to receive their refund electronically were randomized into eight treatment groups, which received different combinations of motivational saving prompts and suggested shares of the refund to save — 25% and 75% — and a control group, which received neither. In treatment conditions where they were presented, motivational prompts focused on various savings goals: general, retirement, or emergency. Analysis reveals that higher suggested allocations generated increased allocations of the refund to savings but that prompts for different reasons to save did not. These interventions, which draw on lessons from behavioral economics, represent potentially low-cost, scalable tools for policy makers interested in helping low- and moderate-income households build savings.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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