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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Providers

Gifts and influence: Conflict of interest policies and prescribing of psychotropic medications in the United States

Marissa King & Peter Bearman

Social Science & Medicine, January 2017, Pages 153-162

Abstract:
The pharmaceutical industry spends roughly 15 billion dollars annually on detailing - providing gifts, information, samples, trips, honoraria and other inducements - to physicians in order to encourage them to prescribe their drugs. In response, several states in the United States adopted policies that restrict detailing. Some states banned gifts from pharmaceutical companies to doctors, other states simply required physicians to disclose the gifts they receive, while most states allowed unrestricted detailing. We exploit this geographic variation to examine the relationship between gift regulation and the diffusion of four newly marketed medications. Using a dataset that captures 189 million psychotropic prescriptions written between 2005 and 2009, we find that uptake of new costly medications was significantly lower in states with marketing regulation than in areas that allowed unrestricted pharmaceutical marketing. In states with gift bans, we observed reductions in market shares ranging from 39% to 83%. Policies banning or restricting gifts were associated with the largest reductions in uptake. Disclosure policies were associated with a significantly smaller reduction in prescribing than gift bans and gift restrictions. In states that ban gift-giving, peer influence substituted for pharmaceutical detailing when a relatively beneficial drug came to market and provided a less biased channel for physicians to learn about new medications. Our work suggests that policies banning or limiting gifts from pharmaceutical representatives to doctors are likely to be more effective than disclosure policies alone.

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Drug Shortages, Pricing, and Regulatory Activity

Christopher Stomberg

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
This study examines the patterns and causes of shortages in generic non-injectable drugs (e.g., tablets and topicals) in the United States. While shortages for injectable drugs have garnered more attention, shortages of other forms of prescription drugs have also been on the increase. In fact, they follow a strikingly similar trend with a number of important tablet drugs having recently been affected by shortage. This poses important questions about the root causes of these trends since most explanations found in the literature are specific to generic injectable drugs. Using a simple heuristic framework, three contributing factors are explored: regulatory oversight, potential market failures in pricing/reimbursement, and competition. This paper features an empirical examination of the contribution of changes in regulatory oversight to drug shortages. A pooled dynamic regression model using FDA data on inspections and citations reveals a statistically significant relationship between FDA regulatory activity (inspections and citations) and drug shortage rates. This result cuts across both injectable and non-injectable drugs, and could reveal a transition in equilibrium quality that should be transitory in nature, but it should also be interpreted with care given the other factors likely affecting shortage rates.

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Damage Caps and Defensive Medicine, Revisited

Myungho Paik, Bernard Black & David Hyman

Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Does tort reform reduce defensive medicine and thus healthcare spending? Several (though not all) prior studies, using a difference-in-differences (DiD) approach, find lower Medicare spending for hospital care after states adopt caps on non-economic or total damages ("damage caps"), during the "second" reform wave of the mid-1980s. We re-examine this issue in several ways. We study the nine states that adopted caps during the "third reform wave," from 2002-2005. We find that damage caps have no significant impact on Medicare Part A spending, but predict roughly 4% higher Medicare Part B spending. We then revisit the 1980s caps, and find no evidence of a post-adoption drop (or rise) in spending for these caps.

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The Effect of Tort Reform on Medical Malpractice Insurance Market Trends

Patricia Born & Bradley Karl

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, December 2016, Pages 718-755

Abstract:
In this article, we examine the extent to which the timing of reforms to the tort liability system coincides with changes in medical malpractice insurance market conditions. Our research is motivated by the fact that, while policy discussions and academic research pertaining to the merits of tort reform often center on ex post effects, it is unclear whether reforms to the tort liability system are responsible for softening conditions in a medical malpractice insurance market that was previously deteriorating. Our analysis of tort reforms in the mid-2000s finds little evidence that state-level medical malpractice insurance losses incurred, premiums earned, or incurred loss ratios were increasing in the years immediately prior to the enactment of various tort reforms, making it difficult to attribute the observed softening of the medical malpractice insurance market that occurred in the mid to late 2000s to the enactment of tort reforms. Our conclusion is that, while tort reforms are effective policy tools for lowering levels of medical malpractice insurance losses incurred and improving insurer profitability, there is little evidence to suggest that reforms are an effective method for softening a medical malpractice insurance marketplace that is otherwise steadily deteriorating.

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The Association between Patient Safety Indicators and Medical Malpractice Risk: Evidence from Florida and Texas

Bernard Black, Amy Wagner & Zenon Zabinski

American Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
According to tort law theory, medical malpractice liability may deter negligence by healthcare providers. However, advocates of malpractice reform often argue that most malpractice claims are unrelated to provider performance. We study the connection between hospital adverse events and malpractice claim rates in the two states with public datasets on med mal claim rates: Florida and Texas. We use Patient Safety Indicators ("PSIs"), developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, to measure rates for 17 types of adverse events. Hospitals with high rates for one PSI usually have high rates for other PSIs. We find a strong association between PSI rates and malpractice claim rates with extensive control variables and hospital fixed effects (in Florida) or county fixed effects (in Texas). Our results, if causal, provide evidence that malpractice claims leading to payouts are not random events. Instead, hospitals that improve patient safety can reduce malpractice payouts. We also study local variation in adverse event rates, in the spirit of the Dartmouth Atlas work on variation in treatment intensity. We find large variations, both across counties and across hospitals within counties. This suggests that many adverse hospital events are avoidable at reasonable cost, since some hospitals are avoiding them.

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Resolving Malpractice Claims after Tort Reform: Experience in a Self-Insured Texas Public Academic Health System

William Sage, Molly Colvard Harding & Eric Thomas

Health Services Research, December 2016, Pages 2615-2633

Objective: To describe the litigation experience in a state with strict tort reform of a large public university health system that has committed to transparency with patients and families in resolving medical errors.

Data Sources/Study Setting: Secondary data collected from The University of Texas System, which self-insures approximately 6,000 physicians at six health campuses across the state. We obtained internal case management data for all medical malpractice claims closed during 1 year before and 6 recent years following the enactment of state tort reform legislation.

Principal Findings: Closed claims dropped from 244 in 2001-2002 to an annual mean of 96 in 2009-2015, closures following lawsuits from 136 in 2001-2002 to an annual mean of 28 in 2009-2015, and paid claims from 60 in 2001 to an annual mean of 20 in 2009-2015. Patterns of resolution suggest efforts by the university to provide some compensation to injured patients in cases that were no longer economically viable for plaintiffs' lawyers to litigate. The percentage of payments relating to cases in which lawsuits had been filed decreased from 82 percent in 2001-2002 to 47 percent in 2009-2012 and again to 29 percent in 2012-2015, although most paid claimants were represented by attorneys. Unrepresented patients received payment in 13 cases closed in 2009-2012 (22 percent of payments; mean amount $60,566) and in 24 cases closed in 2012-2015 (41 percent of payments; mean amount $109,410). Even after tort reform, however, claims that resulted in payment remained slow to resolve, which was worsened for claimants subject to Medicare secondary payer rules. Strict confidentiality became a more common condition of settlement, although restrictions were subsequently relaxed in order to further transparency and improve patient safety.

Conclusions: Malpractice litigation risk diminished substantially for a public university health system in Texas following legal changes that reduced rights to sue and available damages. Health systems operating in a low-tort environment should work with policy makers, plaintiffs' attorneys, and patient groups to assist unrepresented patients, facilitate early mediation, limit nondisclosure obligations following settlement, and expedite the resolution of Medicare liens.

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Hospital Competition, Quality, and Expenditures in the U.S. Medicare Population

Carrie Colla et al.

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Theoretical models of competition with fixed prices suggest that hospitals should compete by increasing quality of care for diseases with the greatest profitability and demand elasticity. Most empirical evidence regarding hospital competition is limited to heart attacks, which in the U.S. generate positive profit margins but exhibit very low demand elasticity - ambulances usually take patients to the closest (or affiliated) hospital. In this paper, we derive a theoretically appropriate measure of market concentration in a fixed-price model, and use differential travel-time to hospitals in each of the 306 U.S. regional hospital markets to instrument for market concentration. We then estimate the model using risk-adjusted Medicare data for several different population cohorts: heart attacks (low demand elasticity), hip and knee replacements (high demand elasticity) and dementia patients (low demand elasticity, low or negative profitability). First, we find little correlation within hospitals across quality measures. And second, while we replicate the standard result that greater competition leads to higher quality in some (but not all) measures of heart attack quality, we find essentially no association between competition and quality for what should be the most competitive markets - elective hip and knee replacements. Consistent with the model, competition is associated with lower quality care among dementia patients, suggesting that competition could induce hospitals to discourage unprofitable patients.

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Association Between the Opening of Retail Clinics and Low-Acuity Emergency Department Visits

Grant Martsolf et al.

Annals of Emergency Medicine, forthcoming

Methods: We used data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Emergency Department Databases for 2,053 EDs in 23 states from 2007 to 2012. We used Poisson regression models to examine the association between retail clinic penetration and the rate of ED visits for 11 low-acuity conditions. Retail clinic "penetration" was measured as the percentage of the ED catchment area that overlapped with the 10-minute drive radius of a retail clinic. Rate ratios were calculated for a 10-percentage-point increase in retail clinic penetration per quarter. During the course of a year, this represents the effect of an increase in retail clinic penetration rate from 0% to 40%, which was approximately the average penetration rate observed in 2012.

Results: Among all patients, retail clinic penetration was not associated with a reduced rate of low-acuity ED visits (rate ratio=0.999; 95% confidence interval=0.997 to 1.000). Among patients with private insurance, there was a slight decrease in low-acuity ED visits (rate ratio=0.997; 95% confidence interval=0.994 to 0.999). For the average ED in a given quarter, this would equal a 0.3% reduction (95% confidence interval 0.1% to 0.6%) in low-acuity ED visits among the privately insured if retail clinic penetration rate increased by 10 percentage points per quarter.

Conclusion: With increased patient demand resulting from the expansion of health insurance coverage, retail clinics may emerge as an important care location, but to date, they have not been associated with a meaningful reduction in low-acuity ED visits.

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Do Good Reports Mean Higher Prices? The Impact of Hospital Compare Ratings on Cardiac Pricing

Avi Dor, William Encinosa & Kathleen Carey

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Previous research found that the initiation of Hospital Compare (HC) quality reporting had little impact on patient outcomes. However little is known about its impact on hospital prices, which may be significant since insurers are positioned to respond to quality information when engaging hospitals in price negotiations. To explore this issue we estimate variants of difference-in-difference models allowing HC impacts to vary by levels of quality scores. We separately examine the effects of the three main scores (heart attack, heart failure, and combined mortalities) on transaction prices of two related cardiac procedures: bypass surgery and angioplasty. States which had mandated reporting systems preceding HC form the control group. Analyzing claims data of privately insured patients, we find that HC exerted downward pressure on prices, which we attribute to competitive pressures. However, hospitals ranked "above average" captured higher prices, thereby offsetting the overall policy effect. We conclude that HC was effective at constraining prices without penalizing high performers.

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Physician Agency and Patient Survival

Mireille Jacobson et al.

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the role of physician agency in determining health care supply and patient outcomes. We show that an increase in health care supply due to a change in private physician incentives has a theoretically ambiguous impact on patient welfare. The increase can reflect either induced demand for ineffective care or a reduction in prior rationing of effective care. Furthermore, physician market structure matters in determining the welfare effects of changes in private physician incentives. We then analyze a change to Medicare fees that caused physicians to increase their provision of chemotherapy. We find that this increase in treatment improved patient survival, extending median life expectancy for lung cancer patients by about 18%. Consistent with the model, we find that while the treatment response was larger in less concentrated markets, survival improvements were larger in more concentrated markets.

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The Effect of Performance Standards on Health Care Provider Behavior: Evidence from Kidney Transplantation

Sarah Stith & Richard Hirth

Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Winter 2016, Pages 789-825

Abstract:
Performance standards are designed to ensure a basic level of quality, and through public reporting of firm performance, encourage firms to compete on quality thus allowing the market to determine the optimal level of quality. In markets with substantial excess demand, however, demand effects may be insufficient to induce any change in firm behavior and enforcement may be required to ensure high quality. Even with enforcement, quality still may not improve at underperforming firms if gaming the system is less costly than improving quality. We test whether information alone or with regulatory enforcement improves outcomes or elicits gaming behavior in our study of 266 kidney transplant centers between 2001 and 2012. In a context of excess demand induced by price controls, we show that information alone has no impact and enforcement may actually increase market inefficiencies; firms respond to costly quality requirements, not by improving quality, but by reducing supply, which exacerbates the disequilibrium between supply and demand, and by cream-skimming, which reduces access to transplantation among sicker patients.

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Does Health IT Adoption Lead to Better Information or Worse Incentives?

Gautam Gowrisankaran, Keith Joiner & Jianjing Lin

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
We evaluate whether hospital adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) leads to increases in billing where financial gains are large or where hassle costs of complete coding are low. The 2007 Medicare payment reform varied both financial incentives and hassle costs of coding. We find no significant impact of financial incentives on billing levels, inconsistent with bill inflation. However, the reform led to increases in reported severity for medical relative to surgical patients at EMR hospitals, consistent with EMRs decreasing coding costs for medical patients. Greater post-reform completeness of coding with EMRs may increase Medicare costs by $689.6 million annually.

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Expanded Scopes Of Practice For Dental Hygienists Associated With Improved Oral Health Outcomes For Adults

Margaret Langelier et al.

Health Affairs, December 2016, Pages 2207-2215

Abstract:
Dental hygienists are important members of the oral health care team, providing preventive and prophylactic services and oral health education. However, scope-of-practice parameters in some states limit their ability to provide needed services effectively. In 2001 we developed the Dental Hygiene Professional Practice Index, a numerical tool to measure the state-level professional practice environment for dental hygienists. We used the index to score state-level scopes of practice in all fifty states and the District of Columbia in 2001 and 2014. The mean composite score on the index increased from 43.5 in 2001 to 57.6 in 2014, on a 100-point scale. We also analyzed the association of each state's composite score with an oral health outcome: tooth extractions among the adult population because of decay or disease. After we controlled for individual- and state-level factors, we found in multilevel modeling that more autonomous dental hygienist scope of practice had a positive and significant association with population oral health in both 2001 and 2014.

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The Effect of Certificate of Need Laws on All-Cause Mortality

James Bailey

Health Services Research, forthcoming

Data Sources: The data of 1992-2011 all-cause mortality are from the Center for Disease Control's Compressed Mortality File; control variables are from the Current Population Survey, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and Area Health Resources File; and data on Certificate of Need laws are from Stratmann and Russ (2014).

Study design: Using fixed- and random-effects regressions, I test how the scope of state Certificate of Need laws affects all-cause mortality within US counties.

Principal Findings: Certificate of Need laws have no statistically significant effect on all-cause mortality. Point estimates indicate that if they have any effect, they are more likely to increase mortality than decrease it.

Conclusions: Proponents of Certificate of Need laws have claimed that they reduce mortality by concentrating more care into fewer, larger facilities that engage in learning-by-doing. However, I find no evidence that these laws reduce all-cause mortality.

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To What Extent Are State Scope of Practice Laws Related to Nurse Practitioners' Day-to-Day Practice Autonomy?

Jeongyoung Park et al.

Medical Care Research and Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explore the extent to which state scope of practice laws are related to nurse practitioners (NPs)' day-to-day practice autonomy. We found that NPs experienced greater day-to-day practice autonomy when they had prescriptive independence. Surprisingly, there were only small and largely insignificant differences in day-to-day practice autonomy between NPs in fully restricted states and those in states with independent practice but restricted prescription authority. The scope of practice effects were strong for primary care NPs. We also found that the amount of variation in day-to-day practice autonomy within the scope of practice categories existed, which suggests that factors other than state scope of practice laws may influence NP practice as well. Removing barriers at all levels that potentially prevent NPs from practicing to the full extent of their education and training is critical not only to increase primary care capacity but also to make NPs more efficient and effective providers.

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Geographical Distribution of Emergency Department Closures and Consequences on Heart Attack Patients

Yu-Chu Shen & Renee Hsia

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
We develop a conceptual framework and empirically investigate how a permanent emergency department (ED) closure affects patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). We first document that large increases in driving time to closest ED are more likely to happen in low-income communities and communities that had fewer medical resources at baseline. Then using a difference-in-differences design, we estimate the effect of an ED closure on access to cardiac care technology, treatment, and health outcomes among Medicare patients with AMI who lived in 24,567 ZIP codes that experienced no change, an increase of <10 minutes, 10 to <30 minutes, and ?30 minutes in driving time to their closest ED. Overall, access to cardiac care declined in all communities experiencing a closure, with access to a coronary care unit decreasing by 18.64 percentage points (95% CI -30.15, -7.12) for those experiencing ?30-minute increase in driving time. Even after controlling for access to technology and treatment, patients with the longest delays experienced a 6.58 (95% CI 2.49, 10.68) and 6.52 (95% CI 1.69, 11.35) percentage point increase in 90-day and 1-year mortality, respectively, compared with those not experiencing changes in distance. Our results also suggest that the predominant mechanism behind the mortality increase appeared to be time delay as opposed to availability of specialized cardiac treatment.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Jobs lost and found

Do Recessions Accelerate Routine-Biased Technological Change? Evidence from Vacancy Postings

Brad Hershbein & Lisa Kahn

NBER Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
We show that skill requirements in job vacancy postings differentially increased in MSAs that were hit hard by the Great Recession, relative to less hard-hit areas, and that these differences across MSAs persist through the end of 2015. The increases are prevalent within occupations, more pronounced in the non-traded sector, driven by both within-firm upskilling and substitution from older to newer firms, accompanied by increases in capital stock, and are evident in realized employment. We argue that this evidence reflects the restructuring of production toward more-skilled workers and routine-labor saving technologies, and that the Great Recession accelerated this process.

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A New Approach to the Study of Jobless Recoveries

Fabio Méndez, Jared Reber & Jeremy Schwartz

Southern Economic Journal, October 2016, Pages 573–589

Abstract:
This article is concerned with the measurement of jobless recoveries and the elements that may explain their emergence. We first introduce a measure that maps the various elements that define a jobless recovery into a single number that we label the jobless recovery depth. We then construct a database of 389 state-level observations and study the cross-sectional variations that emerge. We find that jobless recoveries in the United States are not nation-wide phenomena, but a local event confined within a cluster of states that expands slowly between 1975 and 2015. We find the state-level evidence to be consistent with theories that link jobless recoveries to unusually long expansionary periods, less dynamic labor markets, and the advent of the great moderation. The evidence is not consistent with theories that link them to decreases in union power, increases in income inequality, or increases in health care costs.

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Disappearing Routine Jobs: Who, How, and Why?

Guido Matias Cortes, Nir Jaimovich & Henry Siu

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
We study the deterioration of employment in middle-wage, routine occupations in the United States in the last 35 years. The decline is primarily driven by changes in the propensity to work in routine jobs for individuals from a small set of demographic groups. These same groups account for a substantial fraction of both the increase in non-employment and employment in low-wage, non-routine manual occupations observed during the same time period. We analyze a general neoclassical model of the labor market featuring endogenous participation and occupation choice. We show that in response to an increase in automation technology, the model embodies an important tradeoff between reallocating employment across occupations and reallocation of workers towards non-employment. Quantitatively, we find that advances in automation technology on their own account for a relatively small portion of the joint decline in routine employment and associated rise in non-routine manual employment and non-employment.

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U.S. Productivity Growth Flowing Downstream

Michael Sposi & Kelvinder Virdi

Federal Reserve Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
Measurements of U.S. productivity growth have declined, particularly in the high-tech sector. This may reflect increased U.S. specialization in upstream activities in the global supply chain. Those activities tend to experience slower productivity growth.

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Raising the standard: Minimum wages and firm productivity

Rebecca Riley & Chiara Rosazza Bondibene

Labour Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper exploits the introduction of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in Britain and subsequent increases in the NMW to identify the effects of minimum wages on productivity. We find that the NMW increased average labour costs for companies that tend to employ low paid workers, both upon the introduction of the NMW and more recently following the Great Recession when many workers experienced pay freezes or wage cuts, but the NMW continued to rise. We find evidence to suggest that companies responded to these increases in labour costs by raising labour productivity. These labour productivity changes did not appear to come about via a reduction in firms' workforce or via capital-labour substitution. Rather they were associated with increases in total factor productivity, as theories of organisational change, training and efficiency wages would suggest.

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An Analysis of the Labor Market for Uber's Driver-Partners in the United States

Jonathan Hall & Alan Krueger

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Uber, the ride-sharing company launched in 2010, has grown at an exponential rate. This paper provides the first comprehensive analysis of the labor market for Uber’s driver-partners, based on both survey and administrative data. Drivers who partner with Uber appear to be attracted to the platform largely because of the flexibility it offers, the level of compensation, and the fact that earnings per hour do not vary much with the number of hours worked. Uber’s driver-partners are more similar in terms of their age and education to the general workforce than to taxi drivers and chauffeurs. Most of Uber’s driver-partners had full- or part-time employment prior to joining Uber, and many continued in those positions after starting to drive with the Uber platform, which makes the flexibility to set their own hours all the more valuable. Uber’s driver-partners also often cited the desire to smooth fluctuations in their income as a reason for partnering with Uber.

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Forming Wage Expectations through Learning: Evidence from College Major Choices

Xiaoyu Xia

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, December 2016, Pages 176–196

Abstract:
How do college students choose their majors, and what role does the family play in their choices? I use data from two major longitudinal surveys to develop and estimate a model in which students learn about earning opportunities associated with different majors through the wages of older siblings and parents. The probability of a student choosing a major that corresponds to the occupation of a family member is strongly correlated with the family member's wage at the time the major choice is made. This correlation remains strong after controlling for family-correlated abilities or preferences, and additional empirical evidence suggests that the observed correlation arises through a family-based wage information channel.

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Human capital and unemployment dynamics: Why more-educated workers enjoy greater employment stability

Isabel Cairó & Tomaz Cajner

Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do more-educated workers experience lower unemployment rates and lower employment volatility? Empirically, these workers have similar job finding rates but much lower and less volatile separation rates than their less-educated peers. We argue that on-the-job training, being complementary to formal education, is the reason for this pattern. Using a search and matching model with endogenous separations, we show that investments in match-specific human capital reduce incentives to separate but leave the job finding rate essentially unaffected. The model generates unemployment dynamics quantitatively consistent with the data. Finally, we provide novel empirical evidence supporting the mechanism studied in the paper.

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Agglomeration, Urban Wage Premiums, and College Majors

Shimeng Liu

Journal of Regional Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The aim of this paper is to examine the manner and extent to which worker skill type affects agglomeration economies that contribute to productivity in cities. I use college majors to proxy for skill types among workers with a bachelor's degree. Workers with college training in information-oriented and technical fields (e.g., STEM areas such as engineering, physical sciences, and economics) are associated with economically important within-field agglomeration economies and also generate sizeable spillovers for workers in other fields. In contrast, within-field and across-field spillovers for workers with college training in the arts and humanities are much smaller and often nonexistent. While previous research suggests proximity to college-educated workers enhances productivity, these findings suggest that not all college-educated workers are alike. Instead, positive spillover effects appear to derive mostly from proximity to workers with college training in information-oriented and technical fields.

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Gender, race & the veteran wage gap

Brandon Vick & Gabrielle Fontanella

Social Science Research, January 2017, Pages 11–28

Abstract:
This paper analyzes earnings outcomes of Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans. We utilize the 2009–2013 American Community Survey and a worker-matching methodology to decompose wage differences between veteran and non-veteran workers. Among fully-employed, 25-40 year-olds, veteran workers make 3% less than non-veteran workers. While male veterans make 9% less than non-veterans, female and black veterans experience a wage premium (2% and 7% respectively). Decomposition of the earnings gap identifies some of its sources. Relatively higher rates of disability and lower rates of educational attainment serve to increase the overall wage penalty against veterans. However, veterans work less in low-paying occupations than non-veterans, serving to reduce the wage penalty. Finally, among male and white subgroups, non-veterans earn more in the top quintile due largely to having higher educational attainment and greater representation in higher-paying occupations, such as management.

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The Impact of Consumer Credit Access on Employment, Earnings and Entrepreneurship

Kyle Herkenhoff, Gordon Phillips & Ethan Cohen-Cole

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
How does consumer credit access impact job flows, earnings, and entrepreneurship? To answer this question, we build a new administrative dataset which links individual employment and entrepreneur tax records to TransUnion credit reports, and we exploit the discrete increase in consumer credit access following bankruptcy flag removal. After flag removal, individuals flow into self-employment. New entrants earn more, borrow significantly using unsecured and secured consumer credit, and are more likely to become an employer business. In addition, after flag removal, non-employed and self-employed individuals are more likely to find unemployment-insured "formal" jobs at larger firms that pay greater wages. These estimates imply that firms believe previously bankrupt workers are 3.8% less productive than non-bankrupt workers, on average. These results suggest that consumer credit access matters for each stage of entrepreneurship and that credit-checks may be limiting formal sector employment opportunities.

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Locked in by Leverage: Job Search during the Housing Crisis

Jennifer Brown & David Matsa

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
This paper examines how housing market distress affects job search. Using data from a leading online job search platform during the Great Recession, we find that job seekers in areas with depressed housing markets apply for fewer jobs that require relocation. With their search constrained geographically, job seekers broaden their search to lower level positions nearby. These effects are stronger for job seekers with recourse mortgages, which we confirm using spatial regression discontinuity analysis. Our findings suggest that housing market distress distorts labor market outcomes by impeding household mobility.

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The Immediate Hardship of Unemployment: Evidence from the US Unemployment Insurance System

Mark Stater & Jeffrey Wenger

Eastern Economic Journal, January 2017, Pages 17–36

Abstract:
We examine how the reservation wage varies with the waiting time to apply for unemployment benefits. We find that the waiting time has a negative effect on the reservation wage, suggesting that unemployment generates significant and immediate harm for the unemployed. Our results are unique in that they are based on short-term, incomplete spells of unemployment that are precisely measured in weeks. We address the endogeneity of the waiting time using instrumental variables associated with errors in the unemployment insurance (UI) claim, and note that our estimates are likely a lower bound for the welfare declines experienced by the unemployed.

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Swept Out: Measuring Rurality and Migration Intentions on the Upper Great Plains

Jeffrey Jacquet, Eric Guthrie & Hayven Jackson

Rural Sociology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Rural America has long been conceptualized as a place of out-migration, a process that is the subject of many popular sociological works and remains a dominating narrative that describes rural life in the United States today. Population trends demonstrate this migration pattern for nearly the past century; however, emerging data paint a complex picture of migration behavior and intentions in rural areas. In this article, we utilize several measures of rurality to analyze the results of a 2012 mail survey (n = 2487) that describe the migration intentions of both rural and urban South Dakotans. Our findings show that urban residents are more likely to have intentions to migrate than rural residents, and that drivers of migration intentions appear similar in both urban and rural contexts. The survey also sheds light on the influence of community attachment, community satisfaction, quality of life, and other community strengths and weaknesses that rural and urban residents perceive in their communities. Supporting recent research on rural migration intentions, these results do not suggest high rates of out-migration in rural areas. We discuss rural America's recent identity as a place of out-migration, share our survey results, and discuss implications for future rural migration research.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dose of reality

The Heroin Overdose Mystery

Shepard Siegel

Current Directions in Psychological Science, December 2016, Pages 375-379

Abstract:
Heroin overdose deaths in the Unites States more than tripled from 2010 to 2014, reaching almost 11,000 per year. Despite the use of the term “overdose,” many of these victims died after self-administering an amount of opiate that would not be expected to be fatal for these drug-experienced, and drug-tolerant, individuals. Various explanations of this overdose mystery have been proposed. I describe an explanation based on Pavlovian conditioning. Organisms associate cues present at the time of drug administration with the systemic effect of the drug. These drug-predictive cues come to elicit responses that attenuate the effect of a drug. Such anticipatory conditional responses mediate chronic tolerance. If the drug is administered in the presence of novel cues, tolerance fails to occur and the victim suffers an overdose. Overdose prevention strategies should incorporate information about the contribution of drug-associated cues to drug tolerance.

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Effects of the serotonin transporter gene, sensitivity of response to alcohol, and parental monitoring on risk for problem alcohol use

Lora Cope et al.

Alcohol, forthcoming

Abstract:
The serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) has been previously associated with alcohol-related risk. Most findings point to short (S) allele carriers being at increased risk for negative alcohol outcomes relative to long allele homozygotes, although some work indicates a more complex relationship. The current prospective study aimed to clarify how and under what circumstances variations in 5-HTTLPR transmit risk for various alcohol-related outcomes. Participants were 218 adolescents and young adults (29% female) enrolled in the Michigan Longitudinal Study. We tested a moderated mediation model with 5-HTTLPR as the predictor, Self-Rating of the Effects of Alcohol (SRE) score as the mediator, alcohol-related outcomes as the dependent variables, parental monitoring as the moderator of the SRE to alcohol outcomes path, and prior drinks, sex, age, and body mass index as covariates. Four alcohol-related outcomes were tested. The S allele was associated with higher SRE scores (i.e., lower response to alcohol). Parental monitoring was a significant moderator: At low levels of parental monitoring, higher SRE scores predicted more drinks consumed and binge drinking episodes. At high levels of monitoring, higher SRE scores were significantly related to fewer alcohol-related problems. Findings suggest that one mechanism by which 5-HTTLPR variation transmits alcohol-related risk is through level of response to alcohol. Furthermore, the strength and direction of this effect varied by level of parental monitoring, indicating that even in the presence of genetic and physiological vulnerability, parents can influence the likelihood of offspring developing problematic alcohol-related behaviors.

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The Effect of E-Cigarette Minimum Legal Sale Age Laws on Traditional Cigarette Use and Birth Outcomes among Pregnant Teenagers

Michael Pesko & Janet Currie

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
We use United States birth record data to estimate the effect of e-cigarette minimum legal sale age laws on cigarette use and birth outcomes for pregnant teenagers. While these laws may have reduced e-cigarette use, we hypothesize that these laws may have also increased cigarette use during pregnancy by making it more difficult to use e-cigarettes to reduce/quit smoking. We use cross-sectional and panel data models to find that e-cigarette minimum legal sale age laws increase underage pregnant teenagers’ smoking by 2.1 percentage points. The laws may have also modestly improved select birth outcomes, perhaps by reducing overall nicotine exposure from vaping and smoking combined.

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Adolescent Cigarette Smoking Perceptions and Behavior: Tobacco Control Gains and Gaps Amidst the Rapidly Expanding Tobacco Products Market From 2001 to 2015

Karma McKelvey & Bonnie Halpern-Felsher

Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Methods: Data from two California school-based studies (Xage = 14) were compared: one conducted in 2001–2002 (“2001”), N = 395; the second in 2014–2015 (“2015”); N = 282.

Results: In 2015, more participants reported it was very unlikely they would smoke (94% vs. 65%) and that they never smoked (95% vs. 74%); they reported perceiving less likelihood of looking more mature (17% vs. 28%) and greater likelihood of getting into trouble (86% vs. 77%), having a heart attack (76% vs. 69%), and contracting lung cancer (85% vs. 78%) from smoking (p < .001). Perceptions of short-term health problems and addiction were similar in 2001 and 2015.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that adolescents in 2015 perceived greater risks compared to those in 2001 even amidst the rapidly changing tobacco product landscape. In addition to continuing messages of long-term health risks, prevention efforts should include messages about addiction and short-term health and social risks.

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Changing Perceptions of Harm of E-Cigarettes Among U.S. Adults, 2012–2015

Ban Majeed et al.

American Journal of Preventive Medicine, forthcoming

Introduction: Although the impact of long-term use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) on health is still unknown, current scientific evidence indicates that e-cigarettes are less harmful than combustible cigarettes. The study examined whether perceived relative harm of e-cigarettes and perceived addictiveness have changed during 2012–2015 among U.S. adults.

Methods: Data were from Tobacco Products and Risk Perceptions surveys of probability samples representative of U.S. adults in 2012, 2014, and 2015. Changes over time in perceived harmfulness of e-cigarettes were examined using pairwise comparisons of proportions and multinomial logistic regression analysis. Analyses were conducted in January 2016.

Results: Whereas 11.5% and 1.3% of adults perceived e-cigarettes to have about the same level of harm and to be more harmful than cigarettes, respectively, in 2012, 35.7% and 4.1% did so in 2015. The proportion of adults who thought e-cigarettes were addictive more than doubled during 2012–2015 (32.0% in 2012 vs 67.6% in 2015). Compared with 2012, the odds of perceiving e-cigarettes to be equally or more harmful (than to be less harmful) doubled (95% CI=1.64, 2.41) in 2014, and tripled (95% CI=2.60, 3.81) in 2015.

Conclusions: There is an increase in the proportion of U.S. adults who misperceive the harm of e-cigarettes and consider them to be as harmful as combustible cigarettes. The study highlights the need to design public health messages that accurately interpret the scientific data on the potential harm of e-cigarettes and clearly differentiate the absolute from the relative harm of e-cigarettes.

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The Design of Medical Marijuana Laws and Adolescent Use and Heavy Use of Marijuana: Analysis of 45 States from 1991-2011

Julie Johnson, Dominic Hodgkin & Sion Kim Harris

Drug and Alcohol Dependence, January 2017, Pages 1–8

Objectives: To assess the association between U.S. state medical marijuana laws (MML), the most liberal category of marijuana policies before legalization, their specific provisions, and adolescent past-30-day use and heavy marijuana use.

Methods: This quasi-experimental study used state Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data collected during 1991-2011 from 45 states (N = 715,014) to examine MML effects, taking advantage of heterogeneity across states in MML status and design. Multiple logistic regression modeling was used to adjust for state and year effects, and youth demographics.

Results: Unadjusted analyses found that MMLs were associated with higher rates of adolescent past-30-day marijuana use (odds ratio [OR] = 1.08, 95% confidence interval, [(CI) = 1.03,1.13]) and heavy marijuana use (OR = 1.12, [CI = 1.05,1.21]). However, analyses adjusting for state/year effects found a 7% lower odds of use (OR = 0.99, [CI = 0.98,0.999]) and no difference in heavy use. In the adjusted models, years since MML enactment (OR = 0.93, [CI = 0.86,0.99]) and MML inclusion of more liberalized provisions (OR = 0.98, [CI = 0.96,0.998]) were associated with slightly lowered odds of past-30-day marijuana use. Conversely, allowance for ≥2.5 usable marijuana ounces was associated with higher past-30-day marijuana use odds (OR = 1.21, [CI = 1.09,1.34]) and a voluntary vs. mandatory patient registration with higher odds of both past-30-day use (OR = 1.41, [CI = 1.28,1.56]) and heavy use (OR = 1.23, [CI = 1.08,1.40]).

Conclusions: MML enactment, years since enactment, and inclusion of more liberalized provisions were not associated with increased adolescent marijuana use in this dataset after adjusting for state and year effects; however, higher possession limits and a voluntary registration were. It is possible that state norms are the impetus for MML enactment.

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A Bivariate Genetic Analysis of Drug Abuse Ascertained Through Medical and Criminal Registries in Swedish Twins, Siblings and Half-Siblings

Hermine Maes et al.

Behavior Genetics, November 2016, Pages 735–741

Abstract:
Using Swedish nationwide registry data, the authors investigated the correlation of genetic and environmental risk factors in the etiology of drug abuse as ascertained from medical and criminal registries by modeling twin and sibling data. Medical drug abuse was defined using public inpatient and outpatient records, while criminal drug abuse was ascertained through legal records. Twin, full and half sibling pairs were obtained from the national twin and genealogical registers. Information about sibling pair residence within the same household was obtained from Statistics Sweden. Standard bivariate genetic structural equation modeling was applied to the population-based data on drug abuse ascertained through medical and crime registries, using OpenMx. Analyses of all possible pairs of twins (MZ: N = 4482; DZ: N = 9838 pairs), full- (N = 1,278,086) and half-siblings (paternal: N = 7767; maternal N = 70,553) who grew up together suggested that factors explaining familial resemblance for drug abuse as defined through medical or criminal registries were mostly the same. Results showed substantial heritability and moderate contributions of shared environmental factors to drug abuse; both were higher in males versus females, and higher for drug abuse ascertained through criminal than medical records. Because of the low prevalence of both assessments of drug abuse, having access to population data was crucial to obtain stable estimates. Using objective registry data, the authors found that drug abuse — whether ascertained through medical versus criminal records — was highly heritable. Furthermore, shared environmental factors contributed significantly to the liability of drug abuse. Genetic and shared environmental risk factors for these two forms of drug abuse were highly correlated.

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A Structural Model of the Retail Market for Illicit Drugs

Manolis Galenianos & Alessandro Gavazza

American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We estimate a model of illicit drugs markets using data on purchases of crack cocaine. Buyers are searching for high-quality drugs, but they determine drugs’ quality (i.e., their purity) only after consuming them. Hence, sellers can rip off first-time buyers or can offer higher-quality drugs to induce buyers to purchase from them again. In equilibrium, a distribution of qualities persists. The estimated model implies that if drugs were legalized, in which case purity could be regulated and hence observable, the average purity of drugs would increase by approximately 20 percent and the dispersion would decrease by approximately 80 percent. Moreover, increasing penalties may raise the purity and affordability of the drugs traded by increasing sellers’ relative profitability of targeting loyal buyers versus first-time buyers.

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It’s Complicated: Examining Smokers’ Relationships With Their Cigarette Brands

Sarah Johnson, Blair Coleman & Carol Schmitt

Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite increased restrictions and taxes, decreased social acceptability, and widespread awareness of the harms of tobacco use, many in the U.S. continue to smoke cigarettes. Thus, understanding smokers’ attitudes and motivations remains an important goal. This study adopts the consumer psychology concept of brand relationship to provide a new lens through which to examine smokers’ attitudes about their cigarette use. Twelve focus groups (N = 143) were conducted with adult cigarette smokers from September to November, 2013. Using a semistructured moderator guide and “top of mind” worksheets, the discussion examined participants’ attitudes toward (a) their own cigarette brand and (b) tobacco companies in general. Data were coded and analyzed following principles of thematic analysis. Adult smokers reported positive attitudes toward their cigarette brand, as their brand was strongly associated with the positive experience of smoking (e.g., satisfying craving and relief from withdrawal). In contrast, thinking about tobacco companies in general evoked negative reactions, revealing overwhelmingly negative attitudes toward the industry. Findings reveal a complicated relationship between smokers and their cigarette brand: simultaneously embracing their cigarettes and rejecting the industry that makes them. Taken together, these data suggest smokers maintain largely positive brand relationships, diverting negative feelings about smoking toward the tobacco industry. Finally, they highlight the synergy between branding and the subjective smoking experience, whereby positive brand attitudes are reinforced through withdrawal relief. Ultimately, this information could inform a more complete understanding of how smokers interpret and respond to tobacco communications, including marketing from their brand.

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Do individuals higher in impulsivity drink more impulsively? A pilot study within a high risk sample of young adults

Angela Stevens et al.

Addictive Behaviors, February 2017, Pages 147–153

Abstract:
Extant literature has established a strong relation between individual differences in “impulsivity” and alcohol consumption. However, the relation between “impulsivity,” intentions-to-drink, and alcohol consumption has remained understudied. As a part of a larger study, 77 participants (60.5% female, 76.3% White, M age = 20.8) completed 10 days of daily diary reports regarding their intention to use alcohol and alcohol consumption. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was used to estimate within-person relations between intentions-to-drink and subsequent alcohol use. All models were adjusted for participant age, biological sex, and day of the week. Results showed a strong positive association between daily intention to consume alcohol and self-reported alcohol use (β = 0.50, p < 0.01). Importantly, tests of interactions indicated that individuals higher in impulsivity were not significantly more likely to engage in unplanned drinking. Multilevel mediation analyses indicated significant indirect effects between impulsivity-like constructs, including positive urgency, lack-of-planning, and self-report delay discounting, and reported daily alcohol consumption via higher overall (i.e., between-person) levels of intentions-to-drink; that is, individuals who reported higher levels of these impulsivity-related constructs were more likely to intend to drink across the 10-days and, in turn, consumed more alcohol. Findings from the study suggest that treatment providers could address drinking intentions among individuals higher in impulsivity and work to establish potential replacement behaviors to reduce alcohol consumption in this population.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, December 12, 2016

Course requirements

College on the Cheap: Consequences of Community College Tuition Reductions

Jeffrey Denning

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the effects of community college tuition on college enrollment. I exploit quasi-experimental variation from discounts for community college tuition in Texas that were expanded over time and across geography for identification. Community college enrollment in the first year after high school increased by 5.1 percentage points for each $1,000 decrease in tuition which implies an elasticity of –0.29. Lower tuition also increased transfer from community colleges to universities. Marginal community college enrollees induced to attend by reduced tuition have similar graduation rates as average community college enrollees.

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Measuring Inflation in Grades: An Application of Price Indexing to Undergraduate Grades

Rey Hernández-Julián & Adam Looney

Economics of Education Review, December 2016, Pages 220–232

Abstract:
Rising average grades at American universities have prompted fears of ‘grade inflation.’ This paper applies the methods used to estimate price inflation to examine the causes of rising grades. We use rich data from a large public university to decompose the increase in average grades into those components explained by changes in student characteristics and course choices, and the unexplained component, which we refer to as ‘inflation.’ About one-quarter of the increase in grades from 1982 to 2001 was driven by changes in the courses selected by students; enrollment shifted toward historically ‘easier-grading’ departments over time, mechanically increasing average grades. An additional one-quarter of the increase is attributable to increases in the observable quality of students, such as average SAT scores. Less than half of the increase in average grades from 1982 to 2001 appears to arise from the unexplained factors, or ‘inflation.’ These results add to the evidence suggesting that differences in relative grades across departments discourage students from studying in low-grading departments, like math, physics, or engineering.

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Price Regulation, Price Discrimination, and Equality of Opportunity in Higher Education: Evidence from Texas

Rodney Andrews & Kevin Stange

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
This paper assesses the importance of price regulation and price discrimination to low-income students' access to opportunities in public higher education. Following a policy change in the state of Texas that shifted tuition-setting authority away from the state legislature to the governing board of each public university, most institutions raised sticker prices and many began charging more for high-return undergraduate majors, such as business and engineering. We use administrative data on Texas public university students from 2000 to 2009 matched to earnings records, financial aid, and new measures of tuition and resources at a program level to assess how deregulation affected the representation of disadvantaged students in high-return institutions and majors in the state. We find that poor students actually shifted towards higher-return programs following deregulation, relative to non-poor students. Deregulation facilitated more price discrimination by increasing grant aid for low-income students and also enabled supply-side enhancements such as more spending per student, which may have partially offset the detrimental effects of higher sticker price. The Texas experience suggests that providing institutions more autonomy over pricing and increasing sticker prices need not diminish the opportunities available to disadvantaged students.

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Parental Responses to Public Investments in Children: Evidence from a Maximum Class Size Rule

Peter Fredriksson, Björn Öckert & Hessel Oosterbeek

Journal of Human Resources, Fall 2016, Pages 832-868

Abstract:
We study differential parental responses to variation in class size induced by a maximum class size rule in Swedish schools. In response to an increase in class size: (1) only high-income parents help their children more with homework; (2) all parents are more likely to move their child to another school; and (3) only low-income children find their teachers harder to follow when taught in a larger class. These findings indicate that public and private investments in children are substitutes, and help explain why the negative effect of class size on achievement in our data is concentrated among low-income children.

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Impact of North Carolina's Early Childhood Programs and Policies on Educational Outcomes in Elementary School

Kenneth Dodge et al.

Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
North Carolina's Smart Start and More at Four (MAF) early childhood programs were evaluated through the end of elementary school (age 11) by estimating the impact of state funding allocations to programs in each of 100 counties across 13 consecutive years on outcomes for all children in each county-year group (n = 1,004,571; 49% female; 61% non-Latinx White, 30% African American, 4% Latinx, 5% other). Student-level regression models with county and year fixed effects indicated significant positive impacts of each program on reading and math test scores and reductions in special education and grade retention in each grade. Effect sizes grew or held steady across years. Positive effects held for both high- and low-poverty families, suggesting spillover of effects to nonparticipating peers.

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Shifting College Majors in Response to Advanced Placement Exam Scores

Christopher Avery et al.

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Mapping continuous raw scores from millions of Advanced Placement examinations onto the 1 to 5 integer scoring scale, we apply a regression discontinuity design to understand how students’ choice of college major is impacted by receiving a higher integer score despite similar exam performance to students who earned a lower integer score. Attaining higher scores increases the probability that a student will major in that exam subject by approximately 5 percent (0.64 percentage points), with some individual exams demonstrating increases in major choice by as much as 30 percent. These direct impacts of a higher score explain approximately 11 percent of the unconditional 64 percent (5.7 percentage points) gap in the probability of majoring in the same subject as the AP exam when attaining a 5 versus a 4. We estimate that a substantial portion of the overall effect is driven by behavioral responses to the positive signal of receiving a higher score.

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Effects of ParentCorps in Prekindergarten on Child Mental Health and Academic Performance: Follow-up of a Randomized Clinical Trial Through 8 Years of Age

Laurie Miller Brotman et al.

JAMA Pediatrics, December 2016, Pages 1149-1155

Design, Setting, and Participants: This is a 3-year follow-up study of a cluster randomized clinical trial of ParentCorps in public schools with prekindergarten programs in New York City. Ten elementary schools serving a primarily low-income, black student population were randomized in 2005, and 4 consecutive cohorts of prekindergarten students were enrolled from September 12, 2005, through December 31, 2008. We report follow-up for the 3 cohorts enrolled after the initial year of implementation. Data analysis was performed from September 1, 2014, to December 31, 2015.

Interventions: ParentCorps included professional development for prekindergarten and kindergarten teachers and a program for parents and prekindergarten students (13 two-hour group sessions delivered after school by teachers and mental health professionals).

Results: A total of 1050 children (4 years old; 518 boys [49.3%] and 532 girls [50.7%]) in 99 prekindergarten classrooms participated in the trial (88.1% of the prekindergarten population), with 792 students enrolled from 2006 to 2008. Most families in the follow-up study (421 [69.6%]) were low income; 680 (85.9%) identified as non-Latino black, 78 (9.8%) as Latino, and 34 (4.3%) as other. Relative to their peers in prekindergarten programs, children in ParentCorps-enhanced prekindergarten programs had lower levels of mental health problems (Cohen d = 0.44; 95% CI, 0.08-0.81) and higher teacher-rated academic performance (Cohen d = 0.21; 95% CI, 0.02-0.39) in second grade.

Conclusions and Relevance: Intervention in prekindergarten led to better mental health and academic performance 3 years later. Family-centered early intervention has the potential to prevent problems and reduce disparities for low-income minority children.

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Why Good Teaching Evaluations May Reward Bad Teaching: On Grade Inflation and Other Unintended Consequences of Student Evaluations

Wolfgang Stroebe

Perspectives on Psychological Science, November 2016, Pages 800-816

Abstract:
In this article, I address the paradox that university grade point averages have increased for decades, whereas the time students invest in their studies has decreased. I argue that one major contributor to this paradox is grading leniency, encouraged by the practice of university administrators to base important personnel decisions on student evaluations of teaching. Grading leniency creates strong incentives for instructors to teach in ways that would result in good student evaluations. Because many instructors believe that the average student prefers courses that are entertaining, require little work, and result in high grades, they feel under pressure to conform to those expectations. Evidence is presented that the positive association between student grades and their evaluation of teaching reflects a bias rather than teaching effectiveness. If good teaching evaluations reflected improved student learning due to effective teaching, they should be positively related to the grades received in subsequent courses that build on knowledge gained in the previous course. Findings that teaching evaluations of concurrent courses, though positively correlated with concurrent grades, are negatively related to student performance in subsequent courses are more consistent with the assumption that concurrent evaluations are the result of lenient grading rather than effective teaching. Policy implications are discussed.

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Are Charters the Best Alternative? A Cost Frontier Analysis of Alternative Education Campuses in Texas

Timothy Gronberg, Dennis Jansen & Lori Taylor

Southern Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Previous research on the relative efficiency of charter schools focused on schools that serve a general student population. In Texas, as in many other states, some charter schools have been designed specifically to serve students who are at risk of dropping out of school. Such “alternative education campuses” may have very different cost and efficiency profiles than schools designed to serve students in regular education programs. In this article, we estimate a translog stochastic cost frontier model using panel data for alternative public high school campuses in Texas over the five-year period 2007–2011, and find that alternative education high school campuses operated by charter schools are systematically more efficient than alternative education high school campuses operated by traditional public school districts. Policies that encourage the formation of alternative education charter campuses may thus be a sensible component of strategies to combat the pervasive and pernicious problem of high school dropouts.

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The Effects of Public Unions on Compensation: Evidence from Wisconsin

Andrew Litten

University of Michigan Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
This paper seeks to identify the effect that public sector unions have on compensation. Specifically, I look the compensation premium associated with teachers’ unions in Wisconsin. In 2011, Wisconsin passed a landmark law (Act 10) which significantly lowered the bargaining power of all public sector unions in the state. Using an event study framework, I exploit plausibly exogenous timing differences based on contract renewal dates, which caused districts to be first exposed to the new regulations in different years. I find that the reduction in union power associated with Act 10 reduced total teacher compensation by 8%, or $6,500. Roughly two-thirds of this decline is driven through reduced fringe benefits. Subgroup analysis shows that the most experienced and highest paid teachers benefit most from unionization. I supplement the event study approach with synthetic control and regression discontinuity methods to find that regulatory limits on contract terms, rather than other mechanisms such as state financial aid cuts or union decertification, are driving the results.

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Declining State Funding and Efficiency Effects on Public Higher Education: Government Really Does Matter

Thomas Sav

International Advances in Economic Research, November 2016, Pages 397–408

Abstract:
A stochastic cost frontier with inefficiency effects is estimated to investigate the impacts of decreases in state funding support on the operating efficiency of public colleges and universities in the U.S. Panel data for 378 institutions spanning 10 academic years, 2004 through 2013, captures the efficiency effects of declines in state funding from 32 % to 23 %. There are several improvements over early work of like kind that was, however, confined to four academic years, 2005 through 2008, and could not account for the accelerated effects of state funding decreases that followed the financial crisis. Inefficiency effects are extended to include both private giving as a substitute revenue source and federally funded Pell Grants. Empirical results are robust and support the notion that government does matter. Decreases in state funding create inefficiency in producing public higher education. Results also suggest the same for private giving and Pell Grant support, although the former was statistically weak at best. On the cost side, the results, not surprisingly, indicate that university administrators held costs down with hiring increases in non-tenure track faculty and staff relative to tenure track and tenured faculty.

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Laws, Educational Outcomes, and Returns to Schooling: Evidence from the Full Count 1940 Census

Karen Clay, Jeff Lingwall & Melvin Stephens

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
This paper uses a new dataset on state compulsory attendance, continuation school, and child labor laws with the 1940 full count Census of Population to estimate the returns to schooling for native-born white men in the 1885-1912 birth cohorts. IV estimates of returns to schooling range from 0.064 to 0.079. Quantile IV estimates show that the returns to schooling were largest for the lowest quantiles, and were generally monotonically decreasing for higher quantiles. These findings suggest that early schooling laws may have contributed to the Great Compression by increasing education levels for white men at the bottom of the distribution.

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Information, Non-Financial Incentives, and Student Achievement: Evidence from a Text Messaging Experiment

Roland Fryer

Journal of Public Economics, December 2016, Pages 109–121

Abstract:
This paper describes a field experiment in Oklahoma City Public Schools in which students were provided with free cellular phones and daily information about the link between human capital and future outcomes via text message in one treatment and minutes to talk and text as an incentive in a second treatment. Students' reported beliefs about the relationship between education and outcomes were influenced by the information treatment. However, there were no measurable changes in student effort, attendance, suspensions, or state test scores, though there is evidence that scores on college entrance exams four years later increased. The patterns in the data appear most consistent with a model in which students have present-bias or lack knowledge of the educational production function, though other explanations are possible.

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Using Goals to Motivate College Students: Theory and Evidence from Field Experiments

Damon Clark et al.

Purdue University Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
Will college students who set goals for themselves work harder and perform better? In theory, setting goals can help time-inconsistent students to mitigate their self-control problem. In practice, there is little credible evidence on the causal effects of goal setting for college students. We report the results of two field experiments that involved almost four thousand college students in total. One experiment asked treated students to set goals for performance in the course; the other asked treated students to set goals for a particular task (completing online practice exams). We find that performance-based goals had no discernible impact on course performance. In contrast, task-based goals had large and robust positive effects on the level of task completion, and task-based goals also increased course performance. Further empirical analysis indicates that the increase in task completion induced by setting task-based goals caused the increase in course performance. We also find that task-based goals were more effective for male students. We develop new theory that reinforces our empirical results by suggesting two key reasons why task-based goals might be more effective than performance-based goals: overconfidence and uncertainty about performance. Since task-based goal setting is low-cost, scaleable and logistically simple, we conclude that our findings have important implications for educational practice and future research.

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To Be or Not to Be EL: An Examination of the Impact of Classifying Students as English Learners

Ilana Umansky

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, December 2016, Pages 714-737

Abstract:
Across the United States, students who are deemed not to be proficient in English are classified as English learners (ELs). This classification entitles students to specialized services but may also result in stigmatization and barriers to educational opportunity. This article uses a regression discontinuity design to estimate the effect of EL classification in kindergarten on students’ academic trajectories. Furthermore, it explores whether the effect of EL classification differs for students in English immersion versus bilingual programs. I find that among language-minority students who enter kindergarten with relatively advanced English proficiency, EL classification results in a substantial negative net impact on math and English language arts test scores in Grades 2 through 10. This effect, however, is concentrated in English immersion classrooms.

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Performance Information and Personnel Decisions in the Public Sector: The Case of School Principals

Julie Berry Cullen et al.

NBER Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
Firms and other organizations establish the criteria under which employees will be judged and the performance measures made available to supervisors, the board of directors and other stakeholders, and these structures almost certainly influence behavior and organization outcomes. Any divergence of the chosen performance metric from an ideal measurement of productivity may lead to suboptimal outcomes, particularly in the public sector where outside interest groups may rely more heavily on easily accessible ratings than better-informed insiders. In the case of public education, federal and state accountability systems provide considerable information about student outcomes and rate schools on that basis. However, the No Child Left Behind accountability legislation’s focus on pass rates rather than learning and achievement growth introduces the possibility that inadequate information and a flawed structure each compromise public school quality. This study of school principal labor market outcomes investigates the relationship between principal labor market success and a set of performance measures that differ on the basis of accessibility to stakeholders and link with true principal productivity. The results from the empirical analysis provide evidence that information and design deficiencies introduce a lack of alignment between incentives and principal productivity and adversely affect the quality of education in Texas public schools.

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College Curriculum, Diverging Selectivity, and Enrollment Expansion

Michael Kaganovich & Xuejuan Su

Indiana University Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
We analyze the impact of expansion of higher education on student outcomes in the context of competition among colleges which differentiate themselves horizontally by setting curricular standards. When public or economic pressures compel less selective colleges to lower their curricular demands, low-ability students benefit at the expense of medium-ability students. This reduces competitive pressure faced by more selective colleges, which therefore adopt more demanding curricula to better serve their most able students. This stylized model of curricular product differentiation in higher education offers an explanation for the diverging selectivity trends of American colleges. It also appears consistent with the U-shaped earnings growth profile we observe among college-educated workers in the U.S.

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Do educational vouchers reduce inequality and inefficiency in education?

Metin Akyol

Economics of Education Review, December 2016, Pages 149–167

Abstract:
Policy debates around the topic of educational vouchers as an approach to improve the public educational system are still ongoing and a consensus on the potential benefits or drawbacks has not been reached yet. This paper models the distributional processes entailed by two alternative educational voucher systems, universal and target vouchers, by using an agent-based model of a highly heterogeneous school district. Using this approach allows to track which students actually switch schools and thereby evaluate peer effects. At the same it is possible to model an endogenous reaction of public schools in order to assess their reaction to increased competition. The results indicate an ambiguous effect of universal vouchers on low-income students. The introduction has a negative peer effect on students in low-performing schools due to “cream skimming”, i.e. highly motivated students leaving the schools. In contrast, students who switch to better schools observe a positive effect. The negative effects are partly alleviated by low- performing schools improving their educational services as a response to a decline in enrollment. When examining target vouchers which are a function of student ability, the paper shows that they allow the school district to benefit from the increased competition while avoiding the deterioration of the peer group.

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Multigenerational Head Start Participation: An Unexpected Marker of Progress

Elise Chor

Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
One-quarter of the Head Start population has a mother who participated in the program as a child. This study uses experimental Head Start Impact Study (HSIS) data on 3- and 4-year-olds (N = 2,849) to describe multigenerational Head Start families and their program experiences. In sharp contrast to full-sample HSIS findings, Head Start has large, positive impacts on cognitive and socioemotional development through third grade among the children of former participant mothers, including improved mathematics skills and reductions in withdrawn and aggressive behavior. Evidence suggests that differences in program impacts between single- and multigenerational Head Start families are driven largely by differences in family resources and home learning environments.

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Authoritative School Climate, Number of Parents at Home, and Academic Achievement

Francis Huang, Katie Eklund & Dewey

Cornell School Psychology Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
School climate is widely recognized as an important factor in promoting student academic achievement. The current study investigated the hypothesis that a demanding and supportive school climate, based on authoritative school climate theory, would serve as a protective factor for students living with 1 or no parents at home. Using a statewide sample of 56,508 middle school students from 415 public schools in 1 state, results indicated that student perceptions of disciplinary structure, academic demandingness, and student support all had positive associations with student self-reported grade point average (GPA). In addition, findings showed that academic expectations and student support were more highly associated with GPA for students not living with any parent. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

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Kindergarten redshirting: Motivations and spillovers using census-level data

Kevin Fortner & Jade Marcus Jenkins

Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Winter 2017, Pages 44–56

Abstract:
Kindergarten redshirting may affect a child’s own outcomes and also has implications for school administration, classroom management, and peer learning. We use statewide micro-level census data to examine selection into redshirting, potential spillover effects, and its association with third grade outcomes. We find evidence of both negative and positive selection into redshirting, where children with disabilities are much more likely to be redshirted. We find small positive associations between redshirting and both math and reading achievement in third grade for students without identified disabilities. However, redshirting students with an identified disability score statistically significantly lower on mathematics assessments compared to similar non-redshirting students with identified disabilities. We do not find evidence of spillover effects from redshirting when students attend third grade classes with higher proportions of redshirted children.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Painless

Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial

Roland Griffiths et al.

Journal of Psychopharmacology, December 2016, Pages 1181-1197

Abstract:
Cancer patients often develop chronic, clinically significant symptoms of depression and anxiety. Previous studies suggest that psilocybin may decrease depression and anxiety in cancer patients. The effects of psilocybin were studied in 51 cancer patients with life-threatening diagnoses and symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. This randomized, double-blind, cross-over trial investigated the effects of a very low (placebo-like) dose (1 or 3 mg/70 kg) vs. a high dose (22 or 30 mg/70 kg) of psilocybin administered in counterbalanced sequence with 5 weeks between sessions and a 6-month follow-up. Instructions to participants and staff minimized expectancy effects. Participants, staff, and community observers rated participant moods, attitudes, and behaviors throughout the study. High-dose psilocybin produced large decreases in clinician- and self-rated measures of depressed mood and anxiety, along with increases in quality of life, life meaning, and optimism, and decreases in death anxiety. At 6-month follow-up, these changes were sustained, with about 80% of participants continuing to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety. Participants attributed improvements in attitudes about life/self, mood, relationships, and spirituality to the high-dose experience, with >80% endorsing moderately or greater increased well-being/life satisfaction. Community observer ratings showed corresponding changes. Mystical-type psilocybin experience on session day mediated the effect of psilocybin dose on therapeutic outcomes.

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The effects of expressive writing before or after punch biopsy on wound healing

Hayley Robinson et al.

Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, forthcoming

Methods: One hundred and twenty-two healthy participants aged between 18 and 55 years were randomly allocated to one of four groups in a 2 (intervention) by 2 (timing) design. Participants performed either expressive writing or neutral writing, either before or after receiving a 4mm punch biopsy wound. Wounds were photographed on day 10 (primary endpoint) and day 14 after the biopsy to measure epithelisation. Participants also completed questionnaires on stress and affect two weeks prior to the biopsy, on the day of biopsy and two weeks after biopsy.

Results: There was a significant difference in healing at day 10 between groups, χ2(3, N = 97) = 8.84, p = .032. A significantly greater proportion of participants who performed expressive writing before the biopsy had fully reepithelialised wounds on day 10 compared to participants who performed neutral writing either before or after wounding, with no other significant differences between groups. Amongst people who wrote expressively after wounding, those who finished writing over the first 6 days were significantly more likely to be healed at 14 days than those who finished writing later. There were significant differences in positive and negative affect over the healing period between the pre and post expressive writing groups.

Conclusions: Expressive writing can improve healing if it is performed prior to wounding. Performing expressive writing after wounding may be able to improve healing depending on the timing of writing and wound assessment. Expressive writing causes worsening affect followed by a subsequent improvement in affect and it is important to consider this in the timing of intervention delivery. Further research with patient groups is required to determine the clinical relevance of these findings.

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Fear reduction without fear through reinforcement of neural activity that bypasses conscious exposure

Ai Koizumi et al.

Nature Human Behaviour, forthcoming

Abstract:
Fear conditioning is a fundamentally important and preserved process across species. In humans it is linked to fear-related disorders such as phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fear memories can be reduced by counter-conditioning, in which fear conditioned stimuli (CS+s) are repeatedly reinforced with reward or with novel non-threatening stimuli. However, this procedure involves explicit presentations of CS+s, which is itself aversive before fear is successfully reduced. This aversiveness may be a problem when trying to translate such experimental paradigms into clinical settings. It also raises the fundamental question as to whether explicit presentations of feared objects is necessary for fear reduction. Although learning without explicit stimulus presentation has been previously demonstrated, whether fear can be reduced while avoiding explicit exposure to CS+s remains largely unknown. One recently developed approach employs an implicit method to induce learning by reinforcing stimulus-specific neural representations using real-time decoding of multivariate functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signals in the absence of stimulus presentation; that is, pairing rewards with the occurrences of multi-voxel brain activity patterns matching a specific stimulus (decoded fMRI neurofeedback (DecNef)). It has been shown that participants exhibit perceptual learning for a specific visual stimulus feature through DecNef, without being given any strategy for the induction of specific neural representations, and without awareness of the content of reinforced neural representations. Here we examined whether a similar approach could be applied to counter-conditioning of fear. We show that we can reduce fear towards CS+s by pairing rewards with the activation patterns in visual cortex representing a CS+, while participants remain unaware of the content and purpose of the procedure. This procedure may be an initial step towards novel treatments for fear-related disorders such as phobia and PTSD, via unconscious processing.

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Materialism, Spending, and Affect: An Event-Sampling Study of Marketplace Behavior and Its Affective Costs

Kirk Warren Brown et al.

Journal of Happiness Studies, December 2016, Pages 2277-2292

Abstract:
Research on materialism has burgeoned in the last two decades, yet little is known about how people higher versus lower in this consumer values orientation differ in their day-to-day spending habits and in their emotional reactions to spending on purchases. The present study used an event-sampling method over a 3-week period to address these questions in a community adult sample. Results showed that over the course of the sampling period, high materialists made more discretionary purchases and spent more money on necessity purchases than did those lower in materialism, even though their incomes did not differ. Despite higher levels of spending, high materialists experienced a "letdown" after spending, as they reported more post-purchase unpleasant affect than did low materialists. This result was not moderated by level of dispositional unpleasant affect, purchase type, or purchase amounts.

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Some Implications of Believing That Happiness Involves the Absence of Pain: Negative Hedonic Beliefs Exacerbate the Effects of Stress on Well-Being

Ethan McMahan et al.

Journal of Happiness Studies, December 2016, Pages 2569-2593

Abstract:
One common belief about happiness, espoused to varying degrees by both researchers and laypeople alike, is that happiness involves a lack of negative hedonic experiences. In the current investigation, we examine whether individual differences in endorsement of this belief, termed negative hedonic belief, moderate the effects of stress on happiness and several indicators of well-being. It was predicted that because stress involves the experience of negative hedonic states, increased stress would be more robustly associated with decreased happiness and well-being among those endorsing negative hedonic beliefs. Results from three studies utilizing both retrospective and prospective research designs generally support this prediction and suggest that endorsing the belief that happiness involves a lack of negative hedonic experiences is associated with more negative outcomes in response to the experience of heightened life stress.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, December 10, 2016

They're smart

Smart groups of smart people: Evidence for IQ as the origin of collective intelligence in the performance of human groups

Timothy Bates & Shivani Gupta

Intelligence, forthcoming

Abstract:
What allows groups to behave intelligently? One suggestion is that groups exhibit a collective intelligence accounted for by number of women in the group, turn-taking and emotional empathizing, with group-IQ being only weakly-linked to individual IQ (Woolley, Chabris, Pentland, Hashmi, & Malone, 2010). Here we report tests of this model across three studies with 312 people. Contrary to prediction, individual IQ accounted for around 80% of group-IQ differences. Hypotheses that group-IQ increases with number of women in the group and with turn-taking were not supported. Reading the mind in the eyes (RME) performance was associated with individual IQ, and, in one study, with group-IQ factor scores. However, a well-fitting structural model combining data from studies 2 and 3 indicated that RME exerted no influence on the group-IQ latent factor (instead having a modest impact on a single group test). The experiments instead showed that higher individual IQ enhances group performance such that individual IQ determined 100% of latent group-IQ. Implications for future work on group-based achievement are examined.

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What grades and achievement tests measure

Lex Borghans et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 22 November 2016, Pages 13354–13359

Abstract:
Intelligence quotient (IQ), grades, and scores on achievement tests are widely used as measures of cognition, but the correlations among them are far from perfect. This paper uses a variety of datasets to show that personality and IQ predict grades and scores on achievement tests. Personality is relatively more important in predicting grades than scores on achievement tests. IQ is relatively more important in predicting scores on achievement tests. Personality is generally more predictive than IQ on a variety of important life outcomes. Both grades and achievement tests are substantially better predictors of important life outcomes than IQ. The reason is that both capture personality traits that have independent predictive power beyond that of IQ.

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LearningRx Cognitive Training Effects in Children Ages 8–14: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Dick Carpenter, Christina Ledbetter & Amy Lawson Moore

Applied Cognitive Psychology, September/October 2016, Pages 815–826

Abstract:
In a randomized controlled study, we examined the effects of a one-on-one cognitive training program on memory, visual and auditory processing, processing speed, reasoning, attention, and General Intellectual Ability (GIA) score for students ages 8–14. Participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental group to complete 60 h of cognitive training or to a wait-list control group. The purpose of the study was to examine changes in multiple cognitive skills after completing cognitive training with ThinkRx, a LearningRx program. Results showed statistically significant differences between groups on all outcome measures except for attention. Implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research are examined.

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Creativity and Cognitive Skills among Millennials: Thinking Too Much and Creating Too Little

Brice Corgnet, Antonio Espín & Roberto Hernán-González

Frontiers in Psychology, October 2016

Abstract:
Organizations crucially need the creative talent of millennials but are reluctant to hire them because of their supposed lack of diligence. Recent studies have shown that hiring diligent millennials requires selecting those who score high on the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) and thus rely on effortful thinking rather than intuition. A central question is to assess whether the push for recruiting diligent millennials using criteria such as cognitive reflection can ultimately hamper the recruitment of creative workers. To answer this question, we study the relationship between millennials' creativity and their performance on fluid intelligence (Raven) and cognitive reflection (CRT) tests. The good news for recruiters is that we report, in line with previous research, evidence of a positive relationship of fluid intelligence, and to a lesser extent cognitive reflection, with convergent creative thinking. In addition, we observe a positive effect of fluid intelligence on originality and elaboration measures of divergent creative thinking. The bad news for recruiters is the inverted U-shape relationship between cognitive reflection and fluency and flexibility measures of divergent creative thinking. This suggests that thinking too much may hinder important dimensions of creative thinking. Diligent and creative workers may thus be a rare find.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, December 9, 2016

Rise and fall

Social Mobility and Support for Redistribution: Separating the American Dream from Policy Preferences

Michael George

Harvard Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
This study examines the extent to which upward social mobility impacts beliefs about inequality and preferences for redistribution and taxation. A novel survey experiment and analysis of two national surveys (1993-2012) establish that there is little to no relationship between perceived or actual rates of social mobility and an individual's preferences for redistribution, taxation of the rich, or a variety of other policies examined, like educational spending. Despite this, local social mobility has a significant relationship with preferences for the Republican party in the national survey data and the survey experiment. This finding is then confirmed in an analysis of Presidential electoral results, where the strong relationship between social mobility and Republican party preference surpasses that of income and income inequality over three decades (1980-2012). Importantly, this partisan effect does not interact with income: regardless of their own income, individuals are more Republican wherever low-income children do well. Finally, rather than universal overestimation, new survey evidence suggests that Americans possess relatively accurate perceptions of local rates of economic mobility. Together, these results provide an empirical rebuttal to conventional models of the Meltzer-Richard voting framework and its prospect of upward mobility (POUM) variant, which argues that preferences for redistribution depend on beliefs about future gains or losses from taxation. Instead, this evidence suggests that attitudes toward redistribution and related policies are not strongly impacted by beliefs in upward economic mobility, which implies that resistance to greater redistribution may not be driven by unmerited belief in the 'American dream.'

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Taxing the Rich More: Preliminary Evidence from the 2013 Tax Increase

Emmanuel Saez

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
This paper provides preliminary evidence on behavioral responses to taxation around the 2013 tax increase that raised top marginal tax rates on capital income by about 9.5 points and on labor income by about 6.5 points. Using published tabulated tax statistics from the Statistics of Income division of the IRS, we find that reported top 1% incomes were significantly higher in 2012 than in 2013, implying a large short-run elasticity of reported income with respect to the net-of-tax rate in excess of one. This large short-run elasticity is due to income retiming for tax avoidance purposes and is particularly high for realized capital gains and dividends, and highest at the very top of the income distribution. However, comparing 2011 and 2015 top incomes uncovers only a small medium-term response to the tax increase as top income shares resumed their upward trend after 2013. Overall, we estimate that at most 20% of the projected tax revenue increase from the 2013 tax reform is lost through behavioral responses. This implies that the 2013 tax increase was an efficient way to raise revenue.

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Do Anti-Union Policies Increase Inequality? Evidence from State Adoption of Right-to-Work Laws

Vladimir Kogan

State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
The distribution of income lies at the intersection of states and markets, both influencing and responding to government policy. Reflecting this reality, increasing research focuses on the political origins of inequality in the United States. However, the literature largely assumes - rather than tests - the political mechanisms thought to affect the income gap. This study provides a timely reassessment of one such mechanism. Leveraging variation in labor laws between states and differences in the timing of adoption of right-to-work (RTW) legislation, I examine one political mechanism blamed by many for contributing to inequality. Using a variety of panel designs, I find little evidence that RTW laws have been a major cause of growing income inequality, pointing to the importance of grounding theoretical arguments about the interrelationships between states and markets in a sound empirical reality.

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The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Income Mobility Since 1940

Raj Chetty et al.

Stanford Working Paper, December 2016

Abstract:
We estimate rates of "absolute income mobility" - the fraction of children who earn more than their parents - by combining historical data from Census and CPS cross-sections with panel data for recent birth cohorts from de-identified tax records. Our approach overcomes the key data limitation that has hampered research on trends in intergenerational mobility: the lack of large panel datasets linking parents and children. We find that rates of absolute mobility have fallen from approximately 90% for children born in 1940 to 50% for children born in the 1980s. The result that absolute mobility has fallen sharply over the past half century is robust to the choice of price deflator, the definition of income, and accounting for taxes and transfers. In counterfactual simulations, we find that increasing GDP growth rates alone cannot restore absolute mobility to the rates experienced by children born in the 1940s. In contrast, changing the distribution of growth across income groups to the more equal distribution experienced by the 1940 birth cohort would reverse more than 70% of the decline in mobility. These results imply that reviving the "American Dream" of high rates of absolute mobility would require economic growth that is spread more broadly across the income distribution.

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Income Inequality, Income, and Internet Searches for Status Goods: A Cross-National Study of the Association Between Inequality and Well-Being

Lukasz Walasek & Gordon Brown

Social Indicators Research, December 2016, Pages 1001-1014

Abstract:
Is there a positive association between a nation's income inequality and concerns with status competition within that nation? Here we use Google Correlate and Google Trends to examine frequency of internet search terms and find that people in countries in which income inequality is high search relatively more frequently for positional brand names such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, or Chanel. This tendency is stronger among well-developed countries. We find no evidence that income alone is associated with searches for positional goods. We also present evidence that the concern with positional goods does not reflect non-linear effects of income on consumer spending, either across nations or (extending previous findings that people who live in unequal US States search more for positional goods) within the USA. It is concluded that income inequality is associated with greater concerns with positional goods, and that this concern is reflected in internet searching behaviour.

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Housing Demand, Cost-of-Living Inequality, and the Affordability Crisis

David Albouy, Gabriel Ehrlich & Yingyi Liu

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Since 1970, housing's relative price, share of expenditure, and "unaffordability" have all grown. We estimate housing demand using a novel compensated framework over space and an uncompensated framework over time. Our specifications pass tests imposed by rationality and household mobility. Housing demand is income and price inelastic, and appears to fall with household size. We provide a numerical non-homothetic constant elasticity of substitution utility function for improved quantitative modeling. An ideal cost-of-living index demonstrates that the poor have been disproportionately impacted by rising relative rents, which have greatly amplified increases in real income inequality.

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Can We Have Our Cake and Eat it Too? Liberalization, Economic Growth, and Income Inequality in Advanced Industrial Societies

Roy Kwon

Social Forces, December 2016, Pages 469-502

Abstract:
Conventional economic wisdom maintains that liberalization is partially responsible for the recent expansion of income inequality in advanced industrial societies. Yet the empirical evidence is far from conclusive, as some scholars find a robust positive association between liberalization and inequality, while others uncover a significant negative association between these variables. This study attempts to engage with this burgeoning field of research in order to clarify the empirical link between liberalization, economic growth, and income inequality. To achieve this objective, the current study compiles a panel data set of twenty-one developed economies during the years 1970 to 2009. According to the findings, liberalization returns a consistent positive connection with the pretransfer Gini coefficient using a range of regression parameters and robustness checks. Furthermore, although there is some support for the contention that liberalization indirectly decreases inequality by expanding economic growth, these results are far from conclusive as the findings are inconsistent across different equations. In conclusion, the results largely support conventional wisdom as economic liberalization is found to be a positive predictor of income inequality in advanced industrial societies.

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Technology, Capitalism, Growth, and Inequality

James Holmes, John Holmes & Patricia Hutton

State University of New York Working Paper, September 2016

Abstract:
Economic history suggests that technological innovations with long productivity delays contributed to the emergence of corporations. We develop a formal theory explaining the transition from self-employed proprietors to corporations in a competitive economy and show how the dynamics of economic growth and income inequality are influenced by the adoption of innovations with productivity delays by both types of institutional arrangements. We demonstrate that the predictions for economic growth and income inequality are supported by a wide range of empirical evidence, and conclude that corporations are a force for both economic growth and income equality.

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Unequal views of inequality: Cross-national support for redistribution 1985-2011

Tom VanHeuvelen

Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This research examines public views on government responsibility to reduce income inequality, support for redistribution. While individual-level correlates of support for redistribution are relatively well understood, many questions remain at the country-level. Therefore, I examine how country-level characteristics affect aggregate support for redistribution. I test explanations of aggregate support using a unique dataset combining 18 waves of the International Social Survey Programme and European Social Survey. Results from mixed-effects logistic regression and fixed-effects linear regression models show two primary and contrasting effects. States that reduce inequality through bundles of tax and transfer policies are rewarded with more supportive publics. In contrast, economic development has a seemingly equivalent and dampening effect on public support. Importantly, the effect of economic development grows at higher levels of development, potentially overwhelming the amplifying effect of state redistribution. My results therefore suggest a fundamental challenge to proponents of egalitarian politics.

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Democracy, Inequality, and Institutional Quality

Rainer Kotschy & Uwe Sunde

European Economic Review, January 2017, Pages 209-228

Abstract:
Contrary to a widespread perception, there exists little evidence on the question as to whether the beneficial effect of democracy on the quality of economic institutions is eroded by excessive inequality. This article provides evidence from a variety of panel data models that documents a significant interaction between political institutions and inequality in determining the quality of economic institutions. This suggests that democracy is not necessarily associated with high quality institutions. The empirical results suggest that excessively high levels of inequality erode institutional quality even in democracies, up to the point that democracies appear not to be able to implement good institutional environments if inequality is too high.

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Social comparison, personal relative deprivation, and materialism

Hyunji Kim et al.

British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Across five studies, we found consistent evidence for the idea that personal relative deprivation (PRD), which refers to resentment stemming from the belief that one is deprived of deserved outcomes compared to others, uniquely contributes to materialism. In Study 1, self-reports of PRD positively predicted materialistic values over and above socioeconomic status, personal power, self-esteem, and emotional uncertainty. The experience of PRD starts with social comparison, and Studies 2 and 3 found that PRD mediated the positive relation between a tendency to make social comparisons of abilities and materialism. In Study 4, participants who learned that they had less (vs. similar) discretionary income than people like them reported a stronger desire for more money relative to donating more to charity. In Study 5, during a windfall-spending task, participants higher in PRD spent more on things they wanted relative to other spending categories (e.g., paying off debts).

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Movin' on Up? How Perceptions of Social Mobility Affect Our Willingness to Defend the System

Martin Day & Susan Fiske

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
People's motivation to rationalize and defend the status quo is a major barrier to societal change. Three studies tested whether perceived social mobility - beliefs about the likelihood to move up and down the socioeconomic ladder - can condition people's tendency to engage in system justification. Compared to information suggesting moderate social mobility, exposure to low social mobility frames consistently reduced defense of the overarching societal system. Two studies examined how this effect occurs. Compared to moderate or baseline conditions, a low social mobility frame reduced people's endorsement of (typically strong) meritocratic and just-world beliefs, which in turn explained lower system defense. These effects occurred for political liberals, moderates, and conservatives and could not be explained by other system-legitimizing ideologies or people's beliefs about their own social mobility. Implications for societal change programs are discussed.

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The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer: Country- and State-Level Income Inequality Moderates the Job Insecurity-Burnout Relationship

Lixin Jiang & Tahira Probst

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite the prevalence of income inequality in today's society, research on the implications of income inequality for organizational research is scant. This study takes the first step to explore the contextual role of national- and state- level income inequality as a moderator in the relationship between individual-level job insecurity (JI) and burnout. Drawing from conservation of resource (COR) theory, we argue that income inequality at the country-level and state-level threatens one's obtainment of object (i.e., material coping) and condition (i.e., nonmaterial coping) resources, thus serving as an environmental stressor exacerbating one's burnout reactions to JI. The predicted cross-level interaction effect of income inequality was tested in 2 studies. Study 1 consisting of 23,778 individuals nested in 30 countries explored the moderating effect of country-level income inequality on the relationship between individual JI and exhaustion. Study 2 collected data from 402 employees residing in 48 states in the United States, and tested the moderating effect of state-level income inequality on the relationship between JI and burnout (i.e., emotional exhaustion and cynicism). Results of both studies converge to support the exacerbating role of higher-level income inequality on the JI -burnout relationship. Our findings contribute to the literature on psychological health disparities by exploring the contextual role of income inequality as a predictor of differential reactions to JI.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Leveled playing field

Getting a Sporting Chance: Title IX and the Intergenerational Transmission of Health

Lisa Schulkind

Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We know that healthier mothers tend to have healthier infants, but we do not know how much of that relationship reflects the intergenerational transmission of genetic attributes versus environmental influences. From a policy perspective, it is crucial to understand which environmental influences are important and whether investments in one generation affect outcomes for the next. I use variation in the implementation of Title IX to measure the effects of increased athletic opportunities on the health of infants. Babies born to women with greater athletic opportunities as teenagers have babies that are healthier at birth. They are less likely to be born of low or very low birthweight and have higher Apgar scores.

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Estimating the Effect of State Zero Tolerance Laws on Exclusionary Discipline, Racial Discipline Gaps, and Student Behavior

Chris Curran

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, December 2016, Pages 647-668

Abstract:
Zero tolerance discipline policies have come under criticism as contributors to racial discipline gaps; however, few studies have explicitly examined such policies. This study utilizes data from two nationally representative data sources to examine the effect of state zero tolerance laws on suspension rates and principal perceptions of problem behaviors. Utilizing state and year fixed effects models, this study finds that state zero tolerance laws are predictive of a 0.5 percentage point increase in district suspension rates and no consistent decreases in principals' perceptions of problem behaviors. Furthermore, the results indicate that the laws are predictive of larger increases in suspension rates for Blacks than Whites, potentially contributing to the Black-White suspension gap. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

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Is All Classroom Conduct Equal?: Teacher Contact With Parents of Racial/Ethnic Minority and Immigrant Adolescents

Hua-Yu Cherng

Teachers College Record, 2016

Population/Participants/Subjects: I utilize a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school sophomores, the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002).

Findings/Results: Even after considering measures of student behavior and other factors, I find that mathematics teachers are more likely to contact parents of third-generation Black and Latino youth about disruptive behavior than parents of third-generation White youth. Mathematics and English teachers are less likely to contact immigrant Asian parents about academic and behavioral concerns, even when students are struggling. Teachers are also less likely to contact minority parents with news of accomplishments.

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Do Highly Paid, Highly Skilled Women Experience the Largest Motherhood Penalty?

Paula England et al.

American Sociological Review, December 2016, Pages 1161-1189

Abstract:
Motherhood reduces women's wages. But does the size of this penalty differ between more and less advantaged women? To answer this, we use unconditional quantile regression models with person-fixed effects, and panel data from the 1979 to 2010 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79). We find that among white women, the most privileged - women with high skills and high wages - experience the highest total penalties, estimated to include effects mediated through lost experience. Although highly skilled, highly paid women have fairly continuous experience, their high returns to experience make even the small amounts of time some of them take out of employment for childrearing costly. By contrast, penalties net of experience, which may represent employer discrimination or effects of motherhood on job performance, are not distinctive for highly skilled women with high wages.

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Divergent Paths: Structural Change, Economic Rank, and the Evolution of Black-White Earnings Differences, 1940-2014

Patrick Bayer & Kerwin Kofi Charles

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Studying working and non-working men, we find that, after closing substantially from 1940 to the mid-1970s, the median black-white earnings gap has since returned to its 1950 level, while the positional rank the median black man would hold in the white distribution has remained little changed since 1940. By contrast, higher quantile black men have experienced substantial gains in both relative earnings levels and their positional rank in the white earnings distribution. Using a new decomposition method that extends existing approaches to account for non-participation, we show that the gains of black men at higher quantiles have been driven primarily by positional gains within education level due to forces like improved access to quality schools and declining occupational exclusion. At the median and below, strong racial convergence in educational attainment has been counteracted by the rising returns to education in the labor market, which have disproportionately disadvantaged the shrinking but still substantial share of blacks with lower education.

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The Effects of School Integration: Evidence from a Randomized Desegregation Program

Peter Bergman

Columbia University Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
This paper studies the impact of a desegregation ruling on several medium-run outcomes. This ruling mandates that seven school districts, which serve higher-income, predominantly-white families, accept a group of minority elementary school students who apply to transfer from a nearby, predominantly-minority school district. Slots are allocated via lottery. The offer to transfer raises college enrollment by 10 percentage points. This is due to greater attendance at two-year colleges and particularly for male students. There is evidence male students are also more likely to vote. In contrast, transferring increases the likelihood of arrest. This is driven by increases in non-violent offenses.

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Sex differences in the right tail of cognitive abilities: An update and cross cultural extension

Matthew Makel et al.

Intelligence, November-December 2016, Pages 8-15

Abstract:
Male-female ability differences in the right tail (at or above the 95th percentile) have been widely discussed for their potential role in achievement and occupational differences in adults. The present study provides updated male-female ability ratios from 320,000 7th grade students in the United States in the right tail (top 5%) through the extreme right tail (top 0.01%) from 2011 to 2015 using measures of math, verbal, and science reasoning. Additionally, the present study establishes male-female ability ratios in a sample of over 7000 7th grade students in the right tail from 2011 to 2015 in India. Results indicate that ratios in the extreme right tail of math ability in the U.S. have shrunk in the last 20 years (still favoring males) and remained relatively stable in the verbal domain (still favoring females). Similar patterns of male-female ratios in the extreme right tail were found in the Indian sample.

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Sexual Violence, Title IX and Women's College Enrollment

Dave Marcotte & Jane Palmer

American University Working Paper, November 2016

Abstract:
Sexual violence has long been a problem on college campuses, yet federal policies to protect students have largely been ineffectual. Spurred by student grievances, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights recently began investigating how sexual assault cases were handled at a number of institutions under the Title IX provisions of the Education Amendments of 1972.These investigations focus attention on specific colleges' responses to cases of sexual violence and raise the specter that these institutions may fail to properly investigate allegations or punish perpetrators. In this paper, we examine the implications of these investigations on college enrollment, particularly for women. We combine institution-level panel data on enrollment by age and gender, with information on Title IX investigations to study changes in women's college enrollment. We estimate that enrollment of women at colleges under Title IX investigation declined by 16 to 22 percent. The declines are consistent with both declining matriculation and retention of female students.

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College Advising and Gender

Shane Thompson

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper uses a field experiment to identify college advising gender biases. Five hundred and thirty surveys are randomized over a national sample of practicing advisors such that student gender is the "treatment" of the experiment. I find that advisors discount the ability of female students relative to males by statistically significant magnitudes in both mathematics and English. Additionally, male advisors recommend mathematics with much greater likelihood than do female advisors.

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Brain Drain? An Examination of Stereotype Threat Effects During Training on Knowledge Acquisition and Organizational Effectiveness

James Grand

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Stereotype threat describes a situation in which individuals are faced with the risk of upholding a negative stereotype about their subgroup based on their actions. Empirical work in this area has primarily examined the impact of negative stereotypes on performance for threatened individuals. However, this body of research seldom acknowledges that performance is a function of learning - which may also be impaired by pervasive group stereotypes. This study presents evidence from a 3-day self-guided training program demonstrating that stereotype threat impairs acquisition of cognitive learning outcomes for females facing a negative group stereotype. Using hierarchical Bayesian modeling, results revealed that stereotyped females demonstrated poorer declarative knowledge acquisition, spent less time reflecting on learning activities, and developed less efficiently organized knowledge structures compared with females in a control condition. Findings from a Bayesian mediation model also suggested that despite stereotyped individuals "working harder" to perform well, their underachievement was largely attributable to failures in learning to "work smarter." Building upon these empirical results, a computational model and computer simulation is also presented to demonstrate the practical significance of stereotype-induced impairments to learning on the development of an organization's human capital resources and capabilities. The simulation results show that even the presence of small effects of stereotype threat during learning/training have the potential to exert a significant negative impact on an organization's performance potential. Implications for future research and practice examining stereotype threat during learning are discussed.

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The Influence of Height on Academic Outcomes

Devon Gorry

Economics of Education Review, February 2017, Pages 1-8

Abstract:
This paper examines whether the height premium for academic outcomes is driven by unequal opportunities for tall individuals. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, this paper shows that taller individuals typically earn higher grades and attain more schooling, but the associations are not uniform across school size. Height is only associated with better outcomes for students attending large schools and these improvements are concentrated among males. Data suggest that height contributes more to sports participation and school satisfaction in large schools where resources are more scarce. Thus, differential opportunities or treatment across height in large schools may drive the performance differences.

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Decomposing the Racial Gap in STEM Major Attrition: A Course-Level Investigation

Matthew Baird, Moshe Buchinsky & Veronica Sovero

RAND Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
This paper examines differences in STEM retention between minority and non-minority undergraduate students. To do so, we use detailed student records of a student's courses, grades, and current major for every term the student was enrolled in a large public university. To examine the role of ability in the switching decision and timing, we estimate STEM and non-STEM ability, and then compare the joint distribution of students who switch out of STEM versus STEM stayers. Students with relatively greater non-STEM ability are more likely to switch out of STEM, but ability cannot completely account for the differences in switching patterns for Hispanic and Black students. In fact, Black and Hispanic students are more likely to persist in STEM after ability is taken into account. We also find evidence of switching behavior that appears motivated by a preference for graduation within four years.

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Does a Self-Affirmation Intervention Reduce Stereotype Threat in Black and Hispanic High Schools?

Jenifer Bratter, Kristie Rowley & Irina Chukhray

Race and Social Problems, December 2016, Pages 340-356

Abstract:
The risk of confirming negative stereotypes about one's social group, known as stereotype threat, depresses academic achievement among students of color and contributes to racial gaps in achievement. Some work finds that stereotype threat may be alleviated through self-affirmation exercises, translating into improved performance among students vulnerable to threat. However, this work has been conducted primarily in settings where students of color represent a relatively small segment of the student population. The current study explores whether this intervention is efficacious in schools where students of color are the majority. Through a randomized controlled trial of 886 students in three high schools (one predominantly black, one predominantly Hispanic, and one mixed race school), we administered self-affirmation exercises over the course of an academic year. We find no clear evidence that self-affirmation promoted higher standardized test scores or higher grades within the sample. The null findings highlight the complex nature of academic challenges in segregated contexts and raise important questions about the nature of stereotype thereat in such contexts. Importantly, this suggests that solely enhancing self-integrity may not be sufficient to close academic race-based gaps.

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Increasing Gender Diversity in Corporate Boards: Are Firms Catering to Investor Preferences?

Chinmoy Ghosh et al.

University of Connecticut Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
We examine the drivers of increasing women's representation on boards in American firms. During 1998-2014, the proportion of firms with female directors on their boards almost doubled to approximately 78%, while the percentage of female directors increased almost five-fold to a share of 15%. Our analysis shows that the documented increase in female representation on corporate boards is driven by the increasing propensity of firms to add more female directors, rather than changing firms' characteristics. We use the catering theory to explain firms' propensity to increase (or decrease) their board gender diversity, and show that when the premium to have women on board is positive (negative), firms are more likely to add (replace) female directors. We further find that firms with more women on their boards are historically associated with higher valuation premium. Finally, we observe that the magnitude of board gender diversity changes is positively related to the change in the lagged gender diversity premium. Our results indicate that board gender diversity can increase value in firms, catering to the demand of investors for gender-diversified boards.

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The Gender Gap in Charter School Enrollment

Sean Corcoran & Jennifer Jennings

Educational Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many studies have investigated whether students in charter schools differ systematically from those in traditional public schools with respect to prior achievement, special education, or English Language Learner status. None, however, has examined gender differences in charter school enrollment. Using data for all U.S. public schools over 11 years, we find charters enroll a higher fraction of girls, a gap that has grown steadily over time and is larger in secondary grades and KIPP schools. We then analyze longitudinal student-level data from North Carolina to examine whether differential rates of attrition explain this gap. We find boys are more likely than girls to exit charters once enrolled, and gender differences in attrition are larger than in traditional schools. However, the difference is not large enough to explain the full enrollment gap between charter and traditional schools in North Carolina, suggesting gaps exist from initial matriculation.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Combative

Don't Tread on Me: Constraint-Challenging Presidents and Strategic Conflict Avoidance

Jonathan Keller & Dennis Foster

Presidential Studies Quarterly, December 2016, Pages 808–827

Abstract:
Recent research demonstrates that U.S. presidents’ psychological predispositions influence the frequency with which they choose diversionary foreign policy strategies. The purpose of this article is to extend the expectations of this “first-image” theory of diversion to the strategic behavior of potential diversionary targets. We posit that U.S. presidents whose spontaneous public rhetoric indicates a willingness to challenge pacifying constraints should be viewed by potential enemies as more likely to engage in diversionary conflict. Building upon the “strategic conflict avoidance” perspective, we expect that when such presidents encounter diversionary incentives, other states will increase cooperation toward and avoid initiation of military disputes against the United States. Time-series analyses of behavior toward the United States for the period 1953–2000 largely bear out this expectation, as interstate rivals increase cooperation toward, and all states decrease militarized incident initiation against, the United States when economic misery is high and presidents whose rhetoric has revealed a proclivity for challenging constraints are in office.

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Inside Irredentism: A Global Empirical Analysis

David Siroky & Christopher Hale

American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although many countries have ethnic kin on the “wrong side” of their borders, few seek to annex foreign territories on the basis of ethnicity. This article examines why some states pursue irredentism, whereas others exhibit restraint. It focuses on the triadic structure of the kin group in the irredentist state, its coethnic enclave, and the host state, and provides new data on all actual and potential irredentist cases from 1946 to 2014. The results indicate that irredentism is more likely when the kin group is near economic parity with other groups in its own state, which results in status inconsistency and engenders grievances. It is also more likely in more ethnically homogeneous countries with winner-take-all majoritarian systems where the kin group does not need to moderate its policy to win elections by attracting other groups. These conditions generate both the grievance and opportunity for kin groups to pursue irredentism.

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The Role of Perceived Deservingness in the Toleration of Human Rights Violations

Caroline Drolet, Carolyn Hafer & Larry Heuer

Social Justice Research, December 2016, Pages 429–455

Abstract:
Based on evidence that people have a strong need to see that individuals get what they deserve, we reasoned that people will tolerate a human rights violation to the extent that they believe the target of the violation deserves severe treatment. Thus, we expected that variables that influence the perceived deservingness of a target (i.e., “contextual cues” to deservingness) should influence toleration of a violation of the target’s rights, mediated by perceptions of the target’s deservingness. We also expected that the effect of a contextual cue to targets’ deservingness on toleration should occur even for people who support the violated right in the abstract. Across two studies, using student versus community samples, we measured participants’ abstract support for the right to humane treatment. We then presented participants with scenarios about a target who was tortured (a violation of the right to humane treatment), and manipulated a contextual cue to the targets’ deservingness for severe treatment — the moral reprehensibility of the targets’ past behavior. Participants tolerated a target’s torture more if he had engaged in highly morally reprehensible (vs. less reprehensible) behavior and, thus, was perceived to deserve more severe treatment. Participants’ abstract support for the right to humane treatment did not moderate the effect of moral reprehensibility on toleration. Our findings highlight the importance of perceived deservingness in the toleration of human rights violations and have implications for reducing such toleration. Our research also extends literature on deservingness to an important global issue.

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The Impact of War on Happiness: the Case of Ukraine

Tom Coupe & Maksym Obrizan

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, December 2016, Pages 228–242

Abstract:
In this paper, we study how war affects happiness using data from the on-going conflict in Ukraine. Using a difference-in-difference design, we find that the average level of happiness declined substantially in areas that experience war directly, with the drop in happiness being roughly comparable to the loss of happiness a relatively well-off person would experience if he/she were to become a poor person. At the same time, despite the fact that the war in the East dominates the local media in Ukraine, respondents in other regions of Ukraine are about as happy as they were before the war.

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A Modern Peace? Schumpeter, the Decline of Conflict, and the Investment–War Trade-Off

Tyson Chatagnier & Emanuele Castelli

Political Research Quarterly, December 2016, Pages 852-864

Abstract:
Drawing on the writings of Joseph Schumpeter, we develop and explore a new theory of international conflict. We outline a simple mechanism whereby industrialization fosters peace, suggesting that industrialized states are more peaceful because they can gain more by investing at home than by pursuing foreign military conquest. We borrow from Schumpeter to argue that our mechanism is distinct from traditional measures of liberalism. Empirically, we propose a measure of industrial development, based on a state’s economic structure. Using World Bank sector-specific economic data, our exploratory analysis shows that a more industrialized economy significantly reduces the likelihood that a state will be involved in a fatal military conflict. We show that this result is robust across a number of model specifications and independent of both democracy and capitalism. We propose this as an interesting first step toward a broader research program on modernization and conflict.

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Do Western Educated Leaders Matter for War Involvement?

Joan Barceló

Washington University in Saint Louis Working Paper, October 2016

Abstract:
Recent theories on the causes of war focus on how institutional and structural factors shape leaders' decisions in foreign policy. However, citizens, policy-makers, and a growing number scholars argue that leaders' background experiences may matter for both domestic and foreign policy choices. This paper contributes to an emerging body of scholarship on leaders in international relations by showing how personal attributes influence war involvement. Based on the soft power theory of international experiences and the impressionable-years hypothesis of socialization, I theorize that leaders with the experience of attending a university in a Western democracy should be less likely than non-Western educated leaders to engage in militarized international disputes. I test this proposition by employing a new data set, building on Archigos and LEAD, that includes background attributes of more than 900 leaders from 147 non-Western and non-democratic countries between 1947-2001. The results strongly support the hypothesis, even when accounting for leader selection, time-variant country and leader-level controls, other leaders' background characteristics, and country and year fixed effects. This finding lends credence to the soft power thesis of academic institutions on international sojourners, and highlights the value of considering leaders' experiences in analyses about international relations.

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The Effects of 9/11 on Attitudes toward Immigration and the Moderating Role of Education

Simone Schüller

Kyklos, November 2016, Pages 604–632

Abstract:
The 9/11 terror attacks are likely to have induced an increase in anti-immigrant and anti-foreigner sentiments, not only among US residents but also beyond US borders. Using unique longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel and exploiting exogenous variation in interview timing throughout 2001, I find that the 9/11 events caused an immediate shift of around 40 percent of one within-standard deviation to more negative attitudes toward immigration and resulted in a considerable decrease in concerns over xenophobic hostility among the German population. The quasi-experiment 9/11 provides evidence on the relevance of non-economic factors in attitude formation and the role of education in moderating the negative terrorism shock. Additional descriptive analysis suggests that the effects have also been persistent in the years after the attacks.

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The Chicken or the Egg?: A Coevolutionary Approach to Disputed Issues and Militarized Conflict

Shawna Metzger

International Interactions, forthcoming

Abstract:
Is state behavior influenced by the context in which it occurs, or does context arise because of the way in which states behave? I investigate these questions in the context of international disputes over issues and states’ militarized behavior. The prevalent assumption in interstate conflict research is that disputed issues are exogenous to militarization patterns. I question the validity of this assumption, arguing that there are reasons to suspect that certain states self-select into disputes. I use a coevolution modeling strategy to allow the existence of disputes and states’ behavior to mutually affect one another. I find that disputes are not exogenous to states’ militarized behavior. States that resort to militarized behavior are more likely to dispute an issue than peaceful states. I also find evidence of behavioral contagion among states engaged in disputes: militarized behavior begets militarized behavior.

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Terrorism’s effects on social capital in European countries

Paschalis Arvanitidis, Athina Economou & Christos Kollias

Public Choice, December 2016, Pages 231–250

Abstract:
Studies have shown that major terrorist events have the potential to exert significant influence on citizens’ risk-perceptions, (in) security sentiments, values and behavioral attitudes towards state institutions and their fellow citizens. Within this growing strand of literature, this paper, allowing for a cohort of demographic and socioeconomic traits, examines the extent to which major terrorist events in four European countries affected two key aspects of social capital, namely institutional and social trust. The data used are drawn from European Social Surveys for the years 2004, 2012 and 2014. Results reported indicate that terrorist incidents can trigger social dynamics that affect trust attitudes; however, these effects are short-lived and dissipate rapidly.

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Climate effects of a hypothetical regional nuclear war: Sensitivity to emission duration and particle composition

Francesco Pausata et al.

Earth's Future, forthcoming

Abstract:
Here we use a coupled atmospheric-ocean-aerosol model to investigate the plume development and climate effects of the smoke generated by fires following a regional nuclear war between emerging third-world nuclear powers. We simulate a standard scenario where 5 Tg of black carbon (BC) is emitted over 1 day in the upper troposphere-lower stratosphere. However, it is likely that the emissions from the fires ignited by bomb detonations include a substantial amount of particulate organic matter (POM) and that they last more than 1 day. We therefore test the sensitivity of the aerosol plume and climate system to the BC/ POM ratio (1:3, 1:9) and to the emission length (1 day, 1 week, 1 month). We find that in general, an emission length of 1 month substantially reduces the cooling compared to the 1-day case, whereas taking into account POM emissions notably increases the cooling and the reduction of precipitation associated with the nuclear war during the first year following the detonation. Accounting for POM emissions increases the particle size in the short-emission-length scenarios (1 day/1 week), reducing the residence time of the injected particle. While the initial cooling is more intense when including POM emission, the long-lasting effects, while still large, may be less extreme compared to the BC-only case. Our study highlights that the emission altitude reached by the plume is sensitive to both the particle type emitted by the fires and the emission duration. Consequently, the climate effects of a nuclear war are strongly dependent on these parameters.

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Covert Operations, Wars, Detainee Destinations, and the Psychology of Democratic Peace

Christian Crandall et al.

Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explore US covert forcible actions against democratic governments and their citizens and show that interdemocratic use of covert force is common and can be accommodated within the theory of democratic peace. Grounded in the Perceptual Theory of Legitimacy, we argue that democracies are constrained by public perceptions of their legitimacy from overtly aggressing against other democratic states. When democracies desire to aggress against their democratic counterparts, they will do so covertly. We test the assumptions of the theory and its implication with (1) laboratory studies of the conflation of democracy with ally status and (2) historical analyses of covert militarized actions and prisoner detention, which show that US forcible actions, when carried out against democracies and their citizens, are carried out clandestinely.

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Foreign aid allocation from a network perspective: The effect of global ties

Liam Swiss

Social Science Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines competing explanations for foreign aid allocation on the global level and argues for a new approach to understanding aid from an institutionalist perspective. Using network data on all official bilateral aid relationships between countries in the period from 1975 through 2006 and data on recipient country ties to world society, the article offers an alternative explanation for the allocation of global foreign aid. Fixed effects negative binomial regression models on a panel sample of 117 developing countries reveal that global ties to world society in the form of non-governmental memberships and treaty ratifications are strong determinants of the network centrality of recipient countries in the global foreign aid network. Countries with a higher level of adherence and connection to world society norms and organizations are shown to be the beneficiaries of an increased number of aid relationships with wealthy donor countries. The findings also suggest that prior explanations of aid allocation grounded in altruist or realist motivations are insufficient to account for the patterns of aid allocation seen globally in recent years.

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Representing All Women: An Analysis of Congress, Foreign Policy, and the Boundaries of Women’s Surrogate Representation

Sara Angevine

Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Is sisterhood global? This study investigates if women in Congress are representing women worldwide by extending their surrogate representation of American women to women in foreign countries. Congressional research shows that race affects surrogate representation across borders via transnationalism. I test whether this also applies to gender when no shared “mother country” unites women, there are divisions over how to represent women, and American foreign policy is considered a stereotypically masculine policy domain. With an original dataset of three Congresses (2005–2010), I test if female House Representatives are more likely to introduce foreign policy legislation that targets foreign women and girls by applying regression analysis. Controlling for likely individual, electoral, and institutional incentives, I find that gender matters and that women in Congress are more likely to introduce legislation on behalf of women worldwide, acting as global surrogates. These findings offer new insights into the boundaries of surrogate representation, congressional foreign policy decision making, the influence of gender on international relations, and the impact of women in Congress.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

For the children

Income and child maltreatment in unmarried families: Evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit

Lawrence Berger et al.

Review of Economics of the Household, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study estimates the associations of income with both (self-reported) child protective services involvement and parenting behaviors that proxy for child abuse and neglect risk among unmarried families. Our primary strategy follows the instrumental variables approach employed by Dahl and Lochner (2012), which leverages variation between states and over time in the generosity of the total state and federal earned income tax credit for which a family is eligible to identify exogenous variation in family income. As a robustness check, we also estimate standard OLS regressions (linear probability models), reduced form OLS regressions, and OLS regressions with the inclusion of a control function (each with and without family-specific fixed effects). Our micro-level data are drawn from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth-cohort of relatively disadvantaged urban children who have been followed from birth to age nine. Results suggest that an exogenous increase in income is associated with reductions in behaviorally approximated child neglect and CPS involvement, particularly among low-income single-mother families.

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Housing Affordability And Children’s Cognitive Achievement

Sandra Newman & Scott Holupka

Health Affairs, November 2016, Pages 2092-2099

Abstract:
Housing cost burden — the fraction of income spent on housing — is the most prevalent housing problem affecting the healthy development of millions of low- and moderate-income children. By affecting disposable income, a high burden affects parents’ expenditures on both necessities for and enrichment of their children, as well as investments in their children. Reducing those expenditures and investments, in turn, can affect children’s development, including their cognitive skills and physical, social, and emotional health. This article summarizes the first empirical evidence of the effects of housing affordability on children’s cognitive achievement and on one factor that appears to contribute to these effects: the larger expenditures on child enrichment by families in affordable housing. We found that housing cost burden has the same relationship to both children’s cognitive achievement and enrichment spending on children, exhibiting an inverted U shape in both cases. The maximum benefit occurs when housing cost burden is near 30 percent of income — the long-standing rule-of-thumb definition of affordable housing. The effect of the burden is stronger on children’s math ability than on their reading comprehension and is more pronounced with burdens above the 30 percent standard. For enrichment spending, the curve is “shallower” (meaning the effect of optimal affordability is less pronounced) but still significant.

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Father–Adolescent Engagement in Shared Activities: Effects on Cortisol Stress Response in Young Adulthood

Mariam Hanna Ibrahim et al.

Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Parent–child relationships can critically affect youth physiological development. Most studies have focused on the influence of maternal behaviors, with little attention to paternal influences. The current study investigated father engagement with their adolescents in household (shopping, cooking) and discretionary leisure activities as a predictor of youth cortisol response to a challenging interpersonal task in young adulthood. The sample (N = 213) was roughly divided between Mexican American (MA; n = 101) and European American (EA; n = 112) families, and included resident biological-father (n = 131) and resident stepfather families (n = 82). Salivary cortisol was collected before, immediately after, and at 20 and 40 min after an interpersonal challenge task; area under the curve (AUCg) was calculated to capture total cortisol output. Results suggested that more frequent father engagement in shared activities with adolescents (ages 11–16), but not mother engagement, predicted lower AUCg cortisol response in young adulthood (ages 19–22). The relation remained significant after adjusting for current mother and father engagement and current mental health. Further, the relation did not differ given family ethnicity, father type (step or biological), or adolescent sex. Future research should consider unique influences of fathers when investigating the effects of parent–child relationships on youth physiological development and health.

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Mother still knows best: Maternal influence uniquely modulates adolescent reward sensitivity during risk taking

João Guassi Moreira & Eva Telzer

Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Adolescent decision-making is highly sensitive to input from the social environment. In particular, adult and maternal presence influence adolescents to make safer decisions when encountered with risky scenarios. However, it is currently unknown whether maternal presence confers a greater advantage than mere adult presence in buffering adolescent risk taking. In the current study, 23 adolescents completed a risk-taking task during an fMRI scan in the presence of their mother and an unknown adult. Results reveal that maternal presence elicits greater activation in reward-related neural circuits when making safe decisions but decreased activation following risky choices. Moreover, adolescents evidenced a more immature neural phenotype when making risky choices in the presence of an adult compared to mother, as evidenced by positive functional coupling between the ventral striatum and medial prefrontal cortex. Our results underscore the importance of maternal stimuli in bolstering adolescent decision-making in risky scenarios.

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Childhood Sexual Abuse and Early Timing of Puberty

Jennie Noll et al.

Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Methods: A cohort of sexually abused females and matched comparisons was followed longitudinally at mean ages 11 through 20 years. Sexually abused participants (N = 84) were referred by protective services. Comparison participants (N = 89) were recruited to be comparable in terms of age, ethnicity, income level, family constellation, zip codes, and nonsexual trauma histories. Stage of puberty was indexed at each assessment by nurse and participant ratings of breast and pubic hair development using Tanner staging — the gold standard for assessing pubertal onset and development. Cumulative logit mixed models were used to estimate the association between sexual abuse status and the likelihood of transitioning from earlier to later Tanner stage categories controlling for covariates and potential confounds.

Results: Sexual abuse was associated with earlier pubertal onset: 8 months earlier for breasts (odds ratio: 3.06, 95% CI: 1.11–8.49) and 12 months earlier for pubic hair (odds ratio: 3.49, 95% CI: 1.34–9.12). Alternative explanations including ethnicity, obesity, and biological father absence did not eradicate these findings.

Conclusions: This study confirms an association between exposure to childhood sexual abuse and earlier pubertal onset. Results highlight the possibility that, due to this early onset, sexual abuse survivors may be at increased risk for psychosocial difficulties, menstrual and fertility problems, and even reproductive cancers due to prolonged exposure to sex hormones.

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The Spread of Substance Use and Delinquency Between Adolescent Twins

Brett Laursen et al.

Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This investigation examines the spread of problem behaviors (substance use and delinquency) between twin siblings. A sample of 628 twins (151 male twin pairs and 163 female twin pairs) drawn from the Quebec Newborn Twin Study completed inventories describing delinquency and substance use at ages 13, 14, and 15. A 3-wave longitudinal actor–partner interdependence model (APIM) identified avenues whereby problem behaviors spread from one twin to another. Problems did not spread directly between twins across domains. Instead, 2 indirect pathways were identified: (a) Problems first spread interindividually (between twins) within a behavioral domain, then spread intraindividually (within twins) across behavioral domains (e.g., Twin A delinquency → Twin B delinquency → Twin B substance use); and (b) problems first spread intraindividually (within twins) across behavioral domains, then spread interindividually (between twins) within a behavioral domain (e.g., Twin A delinquency → Twin A substance use → Twin B substance use). Controls for genetic effects, gene–environment correlations, friend substance use and delinquency, and parenting behaviors increase confidence in the conclusion that twin siblings uniquely contribute to the spread of problem behaviors during adolescence. Twin sibling influence is a risk factor for illicit substance use, both because substance use by one twin predicts substance use by the other twin, but also because delinquency in one twin predicts delinquency in the other twin, which then gives rise to greater substance use.

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The Effect of the Child Support Performance and Incentive Act of 1998 on Rewarded and Unrewarded Performance Goals

Ed Gerrish

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines the impact of the Child Support Performance and Incentive Act (CSPIA) of 1998 on child support performance measures that are rewarded financially as well as outcomes that are not rewarded. Three of the five performance measures explicitly rewarded by CSPIA are reconstructed in this analysis, as are two child support outcomes that were considered for financial rewards but were ultimately rejected. Using a panel interrupted time series model with state fixed effects and state-specific trends, this analysis finds that CSPIA had a statistically positive impact on just one rewarded performance goal, cost-effectiveness, and negatively impacted an unrewarded child support outcome — collections sent to other states. Effect sizes suggest that CSPIA had little impact on child support performance, on balance. These results provide more evidence to the ongoing debate about the ability of performance incentives to improve public sector performance. It also suggests that reforming performance systems in response to perceived problems may create new gaming responses.

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Do women tend while men fight or flee? Differential emotive reactions of stressed men and women while viewing newborn infants

Fabian Probst et al.

Psychoneuroendocrinology, January 2017, Pages 213–221

Abstract:
Infant care often is carried out under stressful circumstances. Little is known about differences in caretaking motivation between men and women under stress. In the present study, stress was induced in 40 participants (21 women, 19 men) by means of the cold pressor stress test, 40 (22 women, 18 men) serving as controls. Participants then rated their urge to care for newborn infants shown on 20 short video clips. The infants in the videos were either crying (N = 10) or were showing typical neonatal facial movements (N = 10). Skin conductance was obtained while participants viewed the videos and salivary cortisol was measured to capture stress responses. We found sex differences in caretaking motivation, such that stress led to decreased caretaking motivation in men but not in women. Furthermore, stressed men elicited a stronger skin conductance change while viewing infant videos than stressed women. These findings provide further evidence for differential stress reactions in men and women and may have crucial implications for parental care.

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Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent Overnight Parenting Time With Fathers? The Policy Debate and New Data

William Fabricius & Go Woon Suh

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
Whether children of separated parents 2 years of age and younger should have frequent overnight parenting time with noncustodial fathers has been the subject of much debate but little data. Contrary to some previous findings, the current study found benefits to both parent-child relationships associated with overnights (a) up to and including equal numbers of overnights at both parents’ homes, (b) for both the long-term mother-child and father-child relationships, and (c) both when children were 2 years old, as well as when they were under 1 year of age. These benefits held after controlling for subsequent parenting time with fathers in childhood and adolescence, parent education and conflict up to 5 years after the separation, and children’s sex and age at separation. While the findings do not establish causality they provide strong support for policies to encourage frequent overnight parenting time for infants and toddlers, because the benefits associated with overnights also held for parents who initially agreed about overnights as well as for those who disagreed and had the overnight parenting plan imposed over 1 parent’s objections. The observed benefits for the long-term father-child relationship are consistent with findings from intervention studies showing that fathers who are more involved with infants and toddlers develop better parenting skills and relationships with their children.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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