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Thursday, May 5, 2016

My impression

Does Race Affect Access to Government Services? An Experiment Exploring Street-Level Bureaucrats and Access to Public Housing

Katherine Levine Einstein & David Glick

American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
While experimental studies of local election officials have found evidence of racial discrimination, we know little about whether these biases manifest in bureaucracies that provide access to valuable government programs and are less tied to politics. We address these issues in the context of affordable housing programs using a randomized field experiment. We explore responsiveness to putative white, black, and Hispanic requests for aid in the housing application process. In contrast to prior findings, public housing officials respond at equal rates to black and white email requests. We do, however, find limited evidence of responsiveness discrimination toward Hispanics. Moreover, we observe substantial differences in email tone. Hispanic housing applicants were 20 percentage points less likely to be greeted by name than were their black and white counterparts. This disparity in tone is somewhat more muted in more diverse locations, but it does not depend on whether a housing official is Hispanic.

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Racial bias in pain assessment and treatment recommendations, and false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites

Kelly Hoffman et al.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 19 April 2016, Pages 4296-4301

Abstract:
Black Americans are systematically undertreated for pain relative to white Americans. We examine whether this racial bias is related to false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites (e.g., "black people's skin is thicker than white people's skin"). Study 1 documented these beliefs among white laypersons and revealed that participants who more strongly endorsed false beliefs about biological differences reported lower pain ratings for a black (vs. white) target. Study 2 extended these findings to the medical context and found that half of a sample of white medical students and residents endorsed these beliefs. Moreover, participants who endorsed these beliefs rated the black (vs. white) patient's pain as lower and made less accurate treatment recommendations. Participants who did not endorse these beliefs rated the black (vs. white) patient's pain as higher, but showed no bias in treatment recommendations. These findings suggest that individuals with at least some medical training hold and may use false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites to inform medical judgments, which may contribute to racial disparities in pain assessment and treatment.

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Are Blondes Really Dumb?

Jay Zagorsky

Economics Bulletin, Winter 2016, Pages 401-410

Abstract:
Discrimination based on appearance has serious economic consequences. Women with blonde hair are often considered beautiful, but dumb, which is a potentially harmful stereotype since many employers seek intelligent workers. Using the NLSY79, a large nationally representative survey tracking young baby boomers, this research analyzes the IQ of white women and men according to hair color. Blonde women have a higher mean IQ than women with brown, red and black hair. Blondes are more likely classified as geniuses and less likely to have extremely low IQ than women with other hair colors, suggesting the dumb blonde stereotype is a myth.

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Activating Stereotypes with Brand Imagery: The Role of Viewer Political Identity

Justin Angle et al.

Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The use of ethnic imagery in visual identities of brands, such as those used by professional sports franchises, has long been a contentious issue in American society. This research investigates the oft-voiced argument that ethnic brand imagery perpetuates negative stereotypes (a claim that has been subject to very little empirical scrutiny) and identifies conditions under which encountering such brand imagery strengthens both positive and negative implicit stereotypes. Within the context of American Indian brand imagery, two laboratory experiments (Studies 1 and 2) and a quasi-experimental field study (Study 3) revealed that the effects of ethnic brand imagery on stereotypes depend on the viewer's political identity. Exposure to ethnic brand imagery strengthened implicit stereotypes only among more liberal individuals, consistent with the idea that liberals tend to hold more malleable views. These findings demonstrate measurable negative effects of ethnic brand imagery on implicit stereotypes and support the view that the use of such imagery can carry detrimental societal consequences.

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Mars, Venus, or Earth? Sexism and the Exaggeration of Psychological Gender Differences

Ethan Zell et al.

Sex Roles, forthcoming

Abstract:
Few studies have examined how people perceive psychological gender differences despite the practical importance of these perceptions for everyday life. In three studies, we examined whether there is a positive association between sexism and the tendency to exaggerate psychological gender differences. Study 1 demonstrated that the more strongly men endorsed hostile sexism and the more strongly women endorsed hostile or benevolent sexism, the larger they perceived gender differences to be across a broad range of psychological traits. Study 2 documented that the more strongly people endorsed hostile or benevolent sexism, the more likely they were to exaggerate the size of gender differences. In Studies 1 and 2, women perceived gender differences to be larger than did men, after accounting for sexism. Finally, Study 3 showed that increasing (decreasing) the perceived size of gender differences predicts corresponding increases (decreases) in sexism. These results support relevant theory, which argues that differentiation between genders underlies sexist ideologies, and they may inform future intervention studies that aim to reduce sexism by targeting exaggerated gender beliefs. Discussion highlights the proposed connection between sexism and the belief that "men are from Mars and women are from Venus".

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The Enduring Significance of Skin Tone: Linking Skin Tone, Attitudes Toward Marriage and Cohabitation, and Sexual Behavior

Antoinette Landor & Carolyn Tucker Halpern

Journal of Youth and Adolescence, May 2016, Pages 986-1002

Abstract:
Past evidence has documented that attitudes toward marriage and cohabitation are related to sexual behavior in adolescence and young adulthood. This study extends prior research by longitudinally testing these associations across racial/ethnic groups and investigating whether culturally relevant variations within racial/ethnic minority groups, such as skin tone (i.e., lightness/darkness of skin color), are linked to attitudes toward marriage and cohabitation and sex. Drawing on family and public health literatures and theories, as well as burgeoning skin tone literature, it was hypothesized that more positive attitudes toward marriage and negative attitudes toward cohabitation would be associated with less risky sex, and that links differed for lighter and darker skin individuals. The sample included 6872 respondents (49.6 % female; 70.0 % White; 15.8 % African American; 3.3 % Asian; 10.9 % Hispanic) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. The results revealed that marital attitudes had a significantly stronger dampening effect on risky sexual behavior of lighter skin African Americans and Asians compared with their darker skin counterparts. Skin tone also directly predicted number of partners and concurrent partners among African American males and Asian females. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of these findings for adolescence and young adulthood.

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From Bodies to Blame: Exposure to Sexually Objectifying Media Increases Tolerance Toward Sexual Harassment

Philippe Bernard, Sabine Legrand & Olivier Klein

Psychology of Popular Media Culture, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper investigates whether exposure to sexually objectifying media leads to more tolerance toward sexual harassment of women in the context of a real-life scenario. Moreover, given that self-objectification reflects the internalization of gender-based inequalities, we also tested whether self-objectification was associated with greater tolerance toward sexual harassment of women. Two hundred and ten undergraduate students (112 men) were asked to watch sexually objectifying (vs. neutral) video clips before completing a questionnaire assessing tolerance toward sexual harassment. As expected, we found that watching sexually objectifying video clips led to more victim blame when evaluating a real-life scenario of sexual harassment, but it did not affect general attitudes toward sexual harassment. Moreover, trait self-objectification was associated with general attitudes toward sexual harassment of women, with more tolerance toward sexual harassment among people with high trait self-objectification. In contrast, neither exposure to sexually objectifying video clips nor trait self-objectification affected perpetrator blame. These findings suggest that even short exposure to sexually objectifying media contributes to shifting attitudes toward sexual harassment of nonsexualized women in the real world, and they also illuminate the role of self-objectification in maintaining gender-based inequalities.

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"Date someone your own size": Prejudice and discrimination toward mixed-weight relationships

Brian Collisson et al.

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
We assessed whether people express more prejudice and discrimination toward mixed-weight couples (i.e., romantic partners with dissimilar body mass indexes [BMIs]) than matched-weight couples. In Study 1, people rated mixed-weight couples less favorably than matched-weight couples. In Study 2, people acted as matchmakers; they chose to pair potential relationship partners on the basis of similar BMI and body size. Mixed-weight couples were perceived as poorer matches than matched-weight couples. In Study 3, people offered advice to a person dating a mixed-weight or matched-weight partner. Men and women dating a mixed-weight, rather than matched-weight, partner were advised to go on less active, public, and expensive dates, display less physical affection, and delay introductions to close others. In Study 4, perceived relational inequity, prejudice toward mixed-status relationships, in general, and system justification motives moderated mixed-weight prejudice. Implications for couples are discussed.

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Parenthood as a Moral Imperative? Moral Outrage and the Stigmatization of Voluntarily Childfree Women and Men

Leslie Ashburn-Nardo

Sex Roles, forthcoming

Abstract:
Nationally representative data indicate that adults in the United States are increasingly delaying the decision to have children or are forgoing parenthood entirely. Although some empirical research has examined the social consequences of adults' decision to be childfree, few studies have identified explanatory mechanisms for the stigma this population experiences. Based on the logic of backlash theory and research on retributive justice, the present research examined moral outrage as a mechanism through which voluntarily childfree targets are perceived less favorably than are targets with children for violating the prescribed social role of parenthood. In a between-subjects experiment, 197 undergraduates (147 women, 49 men, 1 participant with missing gender data) from a large U.S. Midwestern urban university were randomly assigned to evaluate a male or female married target who had chosen to have zero or two children. Participants completed measures of the target's perceived psychological fulfillment and their affective reactions to the target. Consistent with earlier studies, voluntarily childfree targets were perceived as significantly less psychologically fulfilled than targets with two children. Extending past research, voluntarily childfree targets elicited significantly greater moral outrage than did targets with two children. My findings were not qualified by targets' gender. Moral outrage mediated the effect of target parenthood status on perceived fulfillment. Collectively, these findings offer the first known empirical evidence of perceptions of parenthood as a moral imperative.

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Sexist Attitudes Among Emerging Adult Women Readers of Fifty Shades Fiction

Lauren Altenburger et al.

Archives of Sexual Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Stereotypical sexist representations of men and women in popular culture reinforce rigid views of masculinity (e.g., males as being strong, in control, masterful, and aggressive) and femininity (e.g., women as being fragile and weak, unassertive, peaceful, irrational, and driven by emotions). The present study examined associations between the fictional series Fifty Shades - one popular culture mechanism that includes pervasive traditional gender role representations - and underlying sexist beliefs among a sample of 715 women ages 18-24 years. Analyses revealed associations between Fifty Shades readership and sexism, as measured through the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory. Namely women who reported reading Fifty Shades had higher levels of ambivalent, benevolent, and hostile sexism. Further, those who interpreted Fifty Shades as "romantic" had higher levels of ambivalent and benevolent sexism. Our findings support prior empirical studies noting associations between interacting with aspects of popular culture, such as television and video games, and individual beliefs and behaviors.

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Attentional Biases Toward Latinos

Steffanie Guillermo & Joshua Correll

Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, May 2016, Pages 264-278

Abstract:
The current research examined attention allocation to assess whether people preferentially attend to Latino versus White faces. The current work also tested whether this attentional bias depended on whether the task involved a bi-ethnic context (only Latino and White faces) or a multi-ethnic context (Black, Latino, and White faces). Attention was measured with an exogenous cueing task that assessed attentional capture and holding toward faces of each racial group. Results showed that Latino faces captured attention faster and held attention longer than White faces. This attentional bias was evident in both bi-ethnic and multi-ethnic racial contexts.

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The Social Context of Racial Boundary Negotiations: Segregation, Hate Crime, and Hispanic Racial Identification in Metropolitan America

Michael Light & John Iceland

Sociological Science, February 2016

Abstract:
How the influx of Hispanics is reshaping the U.S. racial landscape is a paramount question in sociology. While previous research has noted the significant differences in Hispanics' racial identifications from place to place, there are comparatively few empirical investigations explaining these contextual differences. We attempt to fill this gap by arguing that residential context sets the stage for racial boundary negotiations and that certain environments heighten the salience of inter-group boundaries. We test this argument by examining whether Hispanics who live in highly segregated areas and areas that experience greater levels of anti-Hispanic prejudice are more likely to opt out of the U.S. racial order by choosing the "other race" category in surveys. Using data from the American Community Survey and information on anti-Hispanic hate crimes from the FBI, we find support for these hypotheses. These findings widen the theoretical scope of the roles segregation and prejudice play in negotiating racial identifications, and have implications for the extent to which Hispanics may redefine the U.S. racial order.

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Discrimination in Lending Markets: Status and the Intersections of Gender and Race

Sarah Harkness

Social Psychology Quarterly, March 2016, Pages 81-93

Abstract:
Research documents that lenders discriminate between loan applicants in traditional and peer-to-peer lending markets, yet we lack knowledge about the mechanisms driving lenders' behavior. I offer one possible mechanism: When lenders assess borrowers, they are implicitly guided by cultural stereotypes about the borrowers' status. This systematically steers lenders toward funding higher status groups even when applicants have the same financial histories. In an experimental test, I examine how applicants' demographic characteristics combine to alter lenders' status assessments and, thereby, lenders' decisions in an artificial peer-to-peer lending market. Participants from Amazon's Mechanical Turk evaluated a series of loan applicants whose gender (female or male) and race (black or white) were manipulated. The results demonstrate that applicants' gender and race significantly affect lenders' funding decisions because they alter lenders' status beliefs about the applicants. This study provides experimental evidence that status is a likely mechanism driving lending discrimination.

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The Influence of Physical Appearance and Personality on the Exhibition of the Sexual Double Standard

Yuliana Zaikman & Michael Marks

Sexuality & Culture, June 2016, Pages 255-276

Abstract:
The sexual double standard is the phenomenon whereby men are evaluated positively and women are evaluated negatively for engaging in identical sexual behavior. Although people can hold conflicting information (e.g., stereotypical vs. counterstereotypical individuating information) about other individuals, they attempt to form a consistent impression of individuals by inhibiting inconsistent information. The goal of the present study was to investigate whether individuating information about physical appearance and personality could mitigate the exhibition of the evaluations stereotypically associated with the sexual double standard. A sample of 596 participants evaluated a target person who reported having 1 or 12 sexual partners. Overall, participants evaluated highly sexually active female targets more positively than their male counterparts when the targets were either attractive and had a pleasant personality, or were unattractive and had an unpleasant personality. Results highlight the importance of the consistency of individuating information for evaluations of highly sexually active women.

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Dating out is intercultural: Experience and perceived parent disapproval by ethnicity and immigrant generation

Sharon Shenhav, Belinda Campos & Wendy Goldberg

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
Romantic relationships are situated within broader cultural and family contexts, and this may be particularly salient to those in intergroup relationships. This study examined variations in young adults' experiences with intercultural romantic relationships by ethnicity and immigrant generation. A sample of ethnically diverse young adults (N = 628; Asian, Latino, and European background) reported on self and parent attitudes toward dating outside of one's own culture, own current dating status, and disapproval and conflict with parents over current and past dating status. Analyses revealed three key findings. First, intercultural relationships were evenly distributed across ethnic and immigrant generation groups. Second, participants of Asian background perceived greater attitudinal discrepancies with their parents toward intercultural dating than did participants of Latino and European background and were more likely to report intercultural dating conflict with their parents than Latino participants. Third, first-generation and second-generation participants were more likely to report intercultural dating conflict with parents than third-generation participants. Altogether, the findings show the importance of (a) incorporating culture into the conceptualization of intergroup relationships, particularly for ethnic minority and recent immigrant groups, and (b) considering the family context of intercultural dating relationships. Implications for the study of intergroup romantic relationships are discussed.

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The Political Behavior of "Unhyphenated Americans": An Individual-Level Analysis of Causes and Consequences

Benjamin Knoll

Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming

Objectives: This analysis seeks to assess the findings of previous research that "unhyphenated Americans" have distinct voting patterns. This analysis also provides an empirical test for various hypotheses about the determinants of unhyphenated self-identification that have previously been advanced, but not definitely tested, by scholars.

Methods: Multivariate quantitative analysis of a nationally representative public opinion survey fielded in 2015.

Results: The results of previous research are not confirmed. Unhyphenated Americans are no more or less likely to vote for either Obama in 2012 or Democratic congressional candidates in 2014 once important demographic and political control variables are accounted for. Also, contrary to most previous research, unhyphenated self-identification is driven to a large extent by race-related factors.

Conclusion: Unhyphenated Americans appear to have distinct political voting patterns at the aggregate level, but this pattern disappears at the individual level of analysis. Further research is called for to better understand the behavior of unhyphenated Americans.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Corporate masters

Earnings Pressure and Long-Term Corporate Governance: Can Long-Term-Oriented Investors and Managers Reduce the Quarterly Earnings Obsession?

Yu Zhang & Javier Gimeno

Organization Science, March-April 2016, Pages 354-372

Abstract:
Recent research has shown that managers in publicly traded companies facing earnings pressure - the pressure to meet or beat securities analysts' earnings forecasts - may make business decisions to improve short-term earnings. Analysts' forward-looking performance forecasts can serve as powerful motivation for managers, but may also encourage them to undertake short-term actions detrimental to future competitiveness and performance. To identify whether managerial reactions to earnings pressure suggest evidence of intertemporal trade-offs, we explored how companies respond to earnings pressure under different conditions of corporate governance that shape the temporal orientations of managers. Using data on competitive decisions made by U.S. airlines under quarterly earnings pressure, we examined the effect of earnings pressure on competitive behavior under different ownership structures (ownership by long-term dedicated investors versus transient investors) and CEO incentives (unvested incentives that are restricted or unexercisable in the short term, versus vested incentives). The results suggest that companies with more long-term-oriented investors and long-term-aligned CEOs with unvested incentives are less likely to soften competitive behavior in response to earnings pressure, relative to companies with transient investors and CEOs with vested, immediately exercisable stock-based incentives. Using a difference-in-differences (DiD) specification for stronger identification, we also found that firms respond to their rivals' earnings pressure shocks by increasing capacity and prices, particularly when those rivals do not have long-term-oriented investors and CEO incentives. The evidence is more aligned with the view that the pursuit of short-term earnings as a result of earnings pressure may be detrimental to long-term competitiveness.

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CEO Political Preference and Corporate Tax Sheltering

Bill Francis et al.

Journal of Corporate Finance, June 2016, Pages 37-53

Abstract:
We show that firms led by politically partisan CEOs are associated with a higher level of corporate tax sheltering than firms led by nonpartisan CEOs. Specifically, Republican CEOs are associated with more corporate tax sheltering even when their wealth is not tied with that of shareholders and when corporate governance is weak, suggesting that their tax sheltering decisions could be driven by idiosyncratic factors such as their political ideology. We also show that Democratic CEOs are associated with more corporate tax sheltering only when their stock-based incentives are high, suggesting that their tax sheltering decisions are more likely to be driven by economic incentives. In sum, our results support the political connection hypothesis in general but highlight that the specific factors driving partisan CEOs' tax sheltering behaviors differ. Our results imply that it may cost firms more to motivate Democratic CEOs to engage in more tax sheltering activities because such decisions go against their political beliefs regarding tax policies.

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Do Executives Behave Better When Dishonesty is More Salient?

David Cicero & Mi Shen

University of Alabama Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
In behavioral experiments, individuals are less likely to cheat at a task when the saliency of dishonesty is increased [Mazar, Amir, and Ariely (2008), Gino, Ayal, and Ariely (2009)]. We test a similar hypothesis in a real world setting by treating news about high-profile political scandals as shocks to the salience of unethical/illegal behavior and its consequences. We find that local corporate insiders engage in fewer suspect behaviors in the year after a political scandal is revealed. Their stock sales are less profitable and they are less likely to sell stock ahead of large price declines, suggesting less illegal insider trading. These patterns vary predictably with the level of media attention to scandal-related events during the scandal years. Locally headquartered firms also appear to engage in less earnings management following the revelation of a political scandal. However, these changes in executives' behaviors appear to be largely transitory and the evidence of suspect behaviors resumes in following years.

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The Role of Managerial Ability in Corporate Tax Avoidance

Allison Koester, Terry Shevlin & Daniel Wangerin

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Most prior studies model tax avoidance as a function of firm-level characteristics and do not consider how individual executive characteristics affect tax avoidance. This paper investigates whether executives with superior ability to efficiently manage corporate resources engage in greater tax avoidance. Our results show that moving from the lower to upper quartile of managerial ability is associated with a 3.15 (2.50) percent reduction in a firm's one-year (five-year) cash effective tax rate (ETR). We examine how higher ability managers reduce income tax payments and find they engage in greater state tax planning activities, shift more income to foreign tax havens, make more R&D credit claims, and make greater investments in assets that generate accelerated depreciation deductions. Identifying a manager characteristic related to firms' tax policy decisions adds to our understanding of the factors that explain the substantial variation in corporate income tax payments across firms.

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Industry Window Dressing

Huaizhi Chen, Lauren Cohen & Dong Lou

Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explore a new mechanism by which investors take correlated shortcuts and present evidence that managers - using sales management - take advantage of these shortcuts. Specifically, we exploit a regulatory provision wherein a firm's primary industry is determined by the highest sales segment. Exploiting this regulation, we provide evidence that investors classify operationally nearly identical firms as starkly different depending on their placement around this sales cutoff. Moreover, managers appear to exploit this by manipulating sales to be just over the cutoff in favorable industries. Further evidence suggests that managers engage in activities to realize large, tangible benefits from this opportunistic action.

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CEO confidence and stock returns

Rakesh Bharati, Thomas Doellman & Xudong Fu

Journal of Contemporary Accounting & Economics, April 2016, Pages 89-110

Abstract:
Consistent with the theoretical predictions of Goel and Thakor (2008), we find that overconfident CEOs create significant value for the firm through superior stock return performance and take more risk, compared to their non-overconfident counterparts. We also differentiate between innovative and non-innovative industries and find for each subsample that overconfident CEOs create firm value. We find these results even when we control for founder CEOs as they add value and make similar corporate policy decisions as overconfident CEOs. Finally, consistent with the predictions of Goel and Thakor (2008), we find that overconfident CEOs are hired less frequently, take less risk, and add less value after the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, which put in place strict penalties for poor quality information disclosures by corporations. This finding has significant implications for empirical study as this paper provides evidence of the important impact the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has on the relation between CEO overconfidence and firm policies.

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Excess Pay and Deficient Performance

Mary Ellen Carter et al.

Review of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the link between abnormal CEO compensation and firm performance, asking whether high unexplained compensation relative to several benchmarks is a sign of hard-to-measure but desirable executive attributes or is instead a symptom of unsolved agency problems. We find that abnormally high CEO pay predicts worse future firm performance. Abnormally high compensation that is performance contingent is a less ominous signal about the future success of the firm. But abnormal levels of even performance-contingent compensation predict worse future performance. We conclude that abnormally high CEO pay can be useful as an independent indicator of agency problems.

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Ending Executive Manipulations of Incentive Compensation

Sureyya Burcu Avci, Cindy Schipani & Nejat Seyhun

Journal of Corporation Law, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this article, we analyze whether the manipulation of stock options still continues to this day. Our evidence shows that executives continue to employ a variety of manipulative devices to increase their compensation, including backdating, bullet-dodging, and spring-loading. Overall, we find that as a result of these manipulative devices executives are able to increase their compensation by about 6%. We suggest a simple new rule to end all dating games in executive compensation. We propose that all grants of stock options in executive compensation be awarded on a daily pro-rata basis and priced accordingly. This proposal would leave no incentive to game option grant dates or manipulate information flow.

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Can Changes in the Cost of Carry Explain the Dynamics of Corporate "Cash" Holdings?

José Azar, Jean-François Kagy & Martin Schmalz

Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Firms until recently were effectively constrained to hold liquid assets in non-interest-bearing accounts. As a result, the cost of capital of firms' liquid-assets portfolios exceeded the return, especially when the risk-free interest rate was high. The spread between cost and return is the cost of carry. Changes in the cost of carry explain the dynamics of corporate "cash" holdings both in the United States and abroad, and the level of cost of carry explains the level of liquid-asset holdings across countries. We conclude that current US corporate cash holdings are not abnormal in a historical or international comparison.

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Does Corporate Governance Matter More for High Financial Slack Firms?

Kose John, Yuanzhi Li & Jiaren Pang

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The effect of corporate governance may depend on a firm's financial slack. On one hand, financial slack may be spent by managers for their private benefits; a high level is likely associated with severe agency conflicts. Thus corporate governance matters more for high financial slack firms (i.e., the wasteful spending hypothesis). On the other hand, financial slack provides insurance against future uncertainties; a low level may signal deviations from the best interests of shareholders. Then corporate governance is more effective for low financial slack firms (i.e., the precautionary needs hypothesis). We differentiate the two hypotheses using the passage of antitakeover laws to identify exogenous variation in governance. Consistent with the wasteful spending hypothesis, the laws' passage has a larger negative impact on the operating and stock market performance of high financial slack firms. Further analysis shows that these firms do not invest more but become less efficient at cost management after the laws' passage.

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Proxy Advisory Firms: The Economics of Selling Information to Voters

Andrey Malenko & Nadya Malenko

MIT Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
Proxy advisors play an important role by providing investors with research and recommendations on how to vote their shares. This paper examines how proxy advisors affect the quality of corporate decision-making. We analyze a model in which a monopolistic advisor offers to sell information to shareholders, who decide whether to acquire private information and/or buy the advisor's recommendation, and how to cast their votes. We show that the proxy advisor's presence can decrease the quality of decision-making, even if its information is more precise than shareholders' information and no party has a conflict of interest. This is because there is a wedge between privately optimal and socially optimal information acquisition decisions, leading to inefficient crowding out of private information production. We also evaluate several existing proposals on regulating proxy advisors and show that some suggested policies, such as reducing proxy advisors' market power or increasing the transparency of their methodologies, can have a negative effect.

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CEO Narcissism and the Takeover Process: From Private Initiation to Deal Completion

Nihat Aktas et al.

Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, February 2016, Pages 113-137

Abstract:
Chief executive officer (CEO) narcissism affects the takeover process. Acquirer shareholders react less favorably to a takeover announcement when the target CEO is more narcissistic. Narcissistic acquiring CEOs negotiate faster. They are also marginally more likely to initiate deals. Acquirer CEO narcissism and target CEO narcissism are associated with a lower probability of deal completion and reduce the likelihood that the target CEO will be employed by the merged firm. Our findings highlight the importance of both acquirer and target CEO psychological characteristics throughout the takeover process.

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Are Founder CEOs more Overconfident than Professional CEOs? Evidence from S&P 1500 Companies

Joon Mahn Lee, Byoung-Hyoun Hwang & Hailiang Chen

Strategic Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We provide evidence that founder CEOs of large S&P 1500 companies are more overconfident than their non-founder counterparts ("professional CEOs"). We measure overconfidence via tone of CEO tweets, tone of CEO statements during earnings conference calls, management earnings forecasts, and CEO option-exercise behavior. Compared with professional CEOs, founder CEOs use more optimistic language on Twitter and during earnings conference calls. In addition, founder CEOs are more likely to issue earnings forecasts that are too high; they are also more likely to perceive their firms to be undervalued, as implied by their option-exercise behavior. We provide evidence that, to date, investors appear unaware of this "overconfidence bias" among founders.

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Passive Investors, Not Passive Owners

Ian Appel, Todd Gormley & Donald Keim

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Passive institutional investors are an increasingly important component of U.S. stock ownership. To examine whether and by which mechanisms passive investors influence firms' governance, we exploit variation in ownership by passive mutual funds associated with stock assignments to the Russell 1000 and 2000 indexes. Our findings suggest that passive mutual funds influence firms' governance choices, resulting in more independent directors, removal of takeover defenses, and more equal voting rights. Passive investors appear to exert influence through their large voting blocs, and consistent with the observed governance differences increasing firm value, passive ownership is associated with improvements in firms' longer-term performance.

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Extreme CEO pay cuts and audit fees

David Bryan & Terry Mason

Advances in Accounting, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study investigates whether sudden and severe reductions in total CEO compensation affect auditor perceptions of risk. We argue that extreme CEO pay cuts can incentivize the CEO to manipulate the financial reports or make risky operational decisions in a desperate attempt to improve firm performance. This incentive, in turn, is likely to impact auditor assessments of audit risk and auditor business risk, leading to higher audit fees. Consistent with our hypothesis, we find evidence of a positive and highly significant association between extreme CEO pay cuts and audit fees. The results suggest that audit fees are 4.6% higher when there is an extreme CEO pay cut, which corresponds to an audit fee that is $111,458 higher for the average firm-year observation in our sample.

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Economic Uncertainty and Earnings Management

Luke Stein & Charles Wang

Harvard Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
We document that firms report more negative discretionary accruals when financial markets are less certain about their future prospects. Stock-price responses to earnings surprises are moderated when firm-level uncertainty is high, consistent with performance being attributed more to luck, which can create incentives to shift earnings toward lower-uncertainty periods. We show that the resulting opportunistic earnings management is concentrated in CEOs, firms, and periods where such incentives are likely to be strongest: (1) where CEO wealth is sensitive to change in the share price, (2) where announced earnings are particularly likely to be an important source of information about managerial ability and effort, and (3) before implementation of Sarbanes-Oxley made opportunistic earnings management more challenging. Our evidence highlights a novel channel through which firm-level uncertainty affects managerial decision making.

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Credit risk and governance: Evidence from credit default swap spreads

Evrim Akdoğu & Aysun Alp

Finance Research Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper, we examine the effect of shareholder governance mechanisms on the firms' credit risk through credit default swap spreads. Our results suggest that higher antitakeover provisions decrease the price of debt. We find that on average, addition of one antitakeover provision lowers the CDS spread by 3.46 basis points. In addition, we find that this effect is more pronounced for smaller, highly levered, low-rated, and less profitable firms. Since these firms arguably carry a higher financial distress risk, it appears that bondholders favor weaker shareholder governance when the conflict of interest between the shareholders and the bondholders peak.

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The Disciplinary Effects of Proxy Contests

Vyacheslav Fos

Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a manually collected data set of all proxy contests from 1994 through 2012, I show that proxy contests play an important role in hostile corporate governance. Target shareholders benefit from proxy contests: the average abnormal returns reach 6.5% around proxy contest announcements. Proxy contests that address firms' business strategies and undervaluation are most beneficial for shareholders. By contrast, proxy contests that aim at changing capital structure and governance do not lead to higher firm values. Relative to matching firms, future targets are smaller, they have higher stock liquidity, higher institutional and activist ownership, lower leverage and market valuation, and higher investments. Whereas most of these characteristics predict proxy contests in time series, prior to proxy contests, targets also experience poor stock performance, decreases in investments, increases in cash reserves and payouts to shareholders, and increases in management's entrenchment. These changes in corporate policies are consistent with targets' attempts to affect the probability of a proxy contest.

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The Labor Market for Directors and Externalities in Corporate Governance

Doron Levit & Nadya Malenko

Journal of Finance, April 2016, Pages 775-808

Abstract:
This paper studies how directors' reputational concerns affect board structure, corporate governance, and firm value. In our setting, directors affect their firms' governance, and governance in turn affects firms' demand for new directors. Whether the labor market rewards a shareholder-friendly or management-friendly reputation is determined in equilibrium and depends on aggregate governance. We show that directors' desire to be invited to other boards creates strategic complementarity of corporate governance across firms. Directors' reputational concerns amplify the governance system: strong systems become stronger and weak systems become weaker. We derive implications for multiple directorships, board size, transparency, and board independence.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Parenting

Saving Children, Controlling Families: Punishment, Redistribution, and Child Protection

Frank Edwards

American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study shows that state efforts at child protection are structured by the policy regimes in which they are enmeshed. Using administrative data on child protection, criminal justice, and social welfare interventions, I show that children are separated from their families and placed into foster care far more frequently in states with extensive and punitive criminal justice systems than in states with broad and generous welfare programs. However, large welfare bureaucracies interact with welfare program enrollment to create opportunities for the surveillance of families, suggesting that extensive and administratively complex welfare states engage in "soft" social control through the surveillance and regulation of family behavior. The article further shows that institutionalization, a particularly restrictive form of foster care placement, is least common in states with broad and generous welfare regimes and generally more common under punitive regimes. Taken together, these findings show that policy regimes influence the interaction between families and the state through their proximate effects on family structure and well-being and through institutional effects that delimit the routines and scripts through which policymakers and street-level bureaucrats intervene to protect children.

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Can parents detect 8- to 16-year-olds' lies? Parental biases, confidence, and accuracy

Angela Evans, Jasmine Bender & Kang Lee

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, July 2016, Pages 152-158

Abstract:
Honesty is a crucial aspect of a trusting parent-child relationship. Given that close relationships often impair our ability to detect lies and are related to a truth bias, parents may have difficulty with detecting their own children's lies. The current investigation examined the lie detection abilities (accuracy, biases, and confidence) of three groups of participants: non-parent group (undergraduates), parent-other group (parents who evaluated other peoples' children's statements), and parent-own group (parents who evaluated their own children's statements). Participants were presented with videos of 8- to 16-year-olds telling either the truth or a lie about having peeked at the answers to a test and were asked to evaluate the veracity of the statement along with their confidence in their judgment. All groups performed at chance in the accuracy of their veracity judgments. Furthermore, although all groups tended to hold a truth bias for 8- to 16-year-olds, the parent-own group held a much stronger truth bias than the other two groups. All groups were also highly confident in their judgments (70%-76%), but confidence ratings failed to predict accuracy. These findings, taken together, suggest that the close relationship that parents share with their own children may be related to a bias toward believing their children's statements and, hence, a failure to detect their lies.

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Parental Job Loss and Children's Long-Term Outcomes: Evidence from 7 Million Fathers' Layoffs

Nathaniel Hilger

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
How do parental layoffs and their large attendant income losses affect children's long-term outcomes? This question has proven difficult to answer due to the endogeneity of parental layoffs. I overcome this problem by exploiting the timing of 7 million fathers' layoffs when children are age 12-29 in administrative data for the United States. Layoffs dramatically reduce family income but only slightly reduce college enrollment, college quality and early career earnings. These effects are consistent with a weak estimated propensity to spend on college out of marginal parental income. I find that larger effects based on firm closures stem from selection.

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Parent gender and child removal in physical abuse and neglect cases

Brandon Crawford & Mindy Bradley

Children and Youth Services Review, June 2016, Pages 224-230

Abstract:
Criminal justice research frequently investigates relationships between punishment decisions and demographic characteristics of the accused, such as gender, race, and age. While there are many similarities between criminal justice and child welfare cases, research on child maltreatment has yet to examine potential demographic influences on case outcomes. The current study examines relationships between parent gender, type of maltreatment, and child removal among agency responses to child maltreatment cases. Using data collected by the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), we identify differences in the likelihood of child removal from the parental home across type of maltreatment and perpetrator gender. Our results indicate that mother perpetrators of physical abuse not only face significantly higher likelihood of removal than mother perpetrators of neglect, but are more at risk for losing their children than father perpetrators of both physical abuse and neglect. Findings suggest that gendered attributions and stereotypes regarding parenting can shape assessments of parents' blameworthiness, dangerousness, and rehabilitative potential. We propose that future research on child maltreatment cases adapt and apply justice concepts and frameworks to uncover potential unwarranted demographic disparities in agency decision-making.

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Sex stereotypes influence adults' perception of babies' cries

David Reby et al.

BMC Psychology, April 2016

Methods: We used playback experiments combining natural and re-synthesised cries of 3 month-old babies to investigate whether the interindividual variation in the fundamental frequency (pitch) of cries affected adult listeners' identification of the baby's sex, their perception the baby's femininity and masculinity, and whether these biases interacted with their perception of the level of discomfort expressed by the cry.

Results: We show that low-pitched cries are more likely to be attributed to boys and high-pitched cries to girls, despite the absence of sex differences in pitch. Moreover, low-pitched boys are perceived as more masculine and high-pitched girls are perceived as more feminine. Finally, adult men rate relatively low-pitched cries as expressing more discomfort when presented as belonging to boys than to girls.

Conclusion: Such biases in caregivers' responses to babies' cries may have implications on children's immediate welfare and on the development of their gender identity.

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What Predicts Children's Fixed and Growth Intelligence Mind-Sets? Not Their Parents' Views of Intelligence but Their Parents' Views of Failure

Kyla Haimovitz & Carol Dweck

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Children's intelligence mind-sets (i.e., their beliefs about whether intelligence is fixed or malleable) robustly influence their motivation and learning. Yet, surprisingly, research has not linked parents' intelligence mind-sets to their children's. We tested the hypothesis that a different belief of parents - their failure mind-sets - may be more visible to children and therefore more prominent in shaping their beliefs. In Study 1, we found that parents can view failure as debilitating or enhancing, and that these failure mind-sets predict parenting practices and, in turn, children's intelligence mind-sets. Study 2 probed more deeply into how parents display failure mind-sets. In Study 3a, we found that children can indeed accurately perceive their parents' failure mind-sets but not their parents' intelligence mind-sets. Study 3b showed that children's perceptions of their parents' failure mind-sets also predicted their own intelligence mind-sets. Finally, Study 4 showed a causal effect of parents' failure mind-sets on their responses to their children's hypothetical failure. Overall, parents who see failure as debilitating focus on their children's performance and ability rather than on their children's learning, and their children, in turn, tend to believe that intelligence is fixed rather than malleable.

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Targeted or Universal Coverage? Assessing Heterogeneity in the Effects of Universal Childcare

Michael Kottelenberg & Steven Lehrer

NBER Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
We extend earlier research evaluating the Quebec Family Policy by providing the first evidence on the distributional effects of universal child care on two specific developmental outcomes. Our analysis uncovers substantial policy relevant heterogeneity in the estimated effect of access to subsidized child care across two developmental score distributions for children from two-parent families. Whereas past research reported findings of negative effects on mothers and children from these families, igniting controversy, our estimates reveal a more nuanced image that formal child care can indeed boost developmental outcomes for children from some households: particularly disadvantaged single-parent households. In addition, we document significant heterogeneity that differs by child gender. We present suggestive evidence that the heterogeneity in policy effects that emerges across child gender and family type is consistent with differences in the home learning environments generated by parents behaviors that are previously present and are shaped by responses to the policy.

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To trust or not to trust: Social decision-making in post-institutionalized, internationally adopted youth

Clio Pitula et al.

Developmental Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Chronic parental maltreatment has been associated with lower levels of interpersonal trust, and depriving environments have been shown to predict short-sighted, risk-averse decision-making. The present study examined whether a circumscribed period of adverse care occurring only early in life was associated with biases in trust behavior. Fifty-three post-institutionalized (PI) youth, adopted internationally on average by 1 year of age, and 33 never-institutionalized, non-adopted youth (Mage = 12.9 years) played a trust game. Participants decided whether or not to share coins with a different anonymous peer in each trial with the potential to receive a larger number of coins in return. Trials were presented in blocks that varied in the degree to which the peers behaved in a trustworthy (reciprocal) or untrustworthy (non-reciprocal) manner. A comparison condition consisted of a computerized lottery with the same choices and probabilistic risk as the peer trials. Non-adopted comparison youth showed a tendency to share more with peers than to invest in the lottery and tended to maintain their level of sharing across trials despite experiencing trials in which peers failed to reciprocate. In contrast, PI children, particularly those who were adopted over 1 year of age, shared less with peers than they invested in the lottery and quickly adapted their sharing behavior to peers' responses. These results suggest that PI youth were more mistrusting, more sensitive to both defection and reciprocation, and potentially more accurate in their trusting decisions than comparison youth. Results support the presence of a sensitive period for the development of trust in others, whereby conditions early in life may set long-term biases in decision-making.

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Improved Child Problem Behavior Enhances the Parents' Relationship Quality: A Randomized Trial

Martina Zemp et al.

Journal of Family Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although a large body of literature indicates that interparental discord is a primary risk factor for child maladjustment, less research has examined children's behavior as a predictor of the parents' relationship quality. The goal of this randomized trial intervention study was to examine the effects of improved problem behavior in children on the parents' relationship quality 1 year later in a community sample. One hundred couples were randomly assigned to (a) a parenting training (Triple P) or (b) an untreated control group. Interparental relationship quality, parenting behavior, and child problem behavior were assessed by means of questionnaires completed by the parents before and 2 weeks after completion of the treatment and at 6-month and 1-year follow-ups. Mother-report of improved child problem behavior and father-report of improved parenting skills predicted both partners' relationship quality at the 1-year follow-up for the Triple P group only. The findings suggest that programs aimed at reducing child problem behavior hold promise to also enhance the couple's relationship quality.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ruling party

The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa

Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou

American Economic Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We explore the consequences of ethnic partitioning, a neglected aspect of the Scramble for Africa, and uncover the following. First, apart from the land mass and water bodies, split and nonsplit groups are similar across several dimensions. Second, the incidence, severity and duration of political violence are all higher for partitioned homelands which also experience frequent military interventions from neighboring countries. Third, split groups are often entangled in a vicious circle of government-led discrimination and ethnic wars. Fourth, respondents from survey data identifying with split ethnicities are economically disadvantaged. The evidence highlights the detrimental repercussions of the colonial border design.

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With a little help from my friends: Global electioneering and World Bank lending

Erasmus Kersting & Christopher Kilby

Journal of Development Economics, July 2016, Pages 153–165

Abstract:
This paper investigates how World Bank lending responds to upcoming elections in borrowing countries. We find that investment project loans disburse faster when countries are aligned with the United States in the UN. Moreover, disbursement accelerates in the run-up to competitive executive elections if the government is geopolitically aligned with the U.S. but decelerates if the government is not. These disbursement patterns are consistent with global electioneering that serves U.S. foreign policy interests but jeopardizes the development effectiveness of multilateral lending.

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The Diverse Effects of Diversity on Democracy

John Gerring, Michael Hoffman & Dominic Zarecki

British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Diverse identities coexisting within the same society are often viewed as problematic for economic and political development. This article argues that different types of social diversity have differential effects on regime type. Specifically, ethno-linguistic diversity increases prospects for democracy while religious diversity decreases prospects for democracy. The article presents a variety of reasons why diversity might have divergent causal effects on regime type. Cross-national regressions in a variety of econometric formats – including instrumental variables – provide corroborating evidence for the argument.

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In the Shadow of the International Criminal Court: Does the ICC Deter Human Rights Violations?

Benjamin Appel

Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is responsible for prosecuting crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. Despite the potential for the ICC to deter human rights abuses, scholars and policy makers are divided on the effectiveness of it. This debate, however, is plagued by some important theoretical and empirical limitations. I address the problems in the literature and evaluate whether the ICC can prevent human rights abuses. I argue that the ICC can deter governments from committing human rights violations by imposing a variety of costs on them throughout their investigations that decrease their expected payoffs for engaging in human rights abuses. Across a variety of statistical estimators that account for standard threats to inference and several anecdotes, I find strong support for my theoretical expectations; leaders from states that have ratified the Rome Statute commit lower levels of human rights abuses than nonratifier leaders.

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Pollution and Regime Support: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Beijing

Meir Alkon & Erik Haixiao Wang

Princeton University Working Paper, April 2016

Abstract:
Using an eight-week long original survey conducted day-by-day in Beijing in 2015, we leverage daily variation in air quality to estimate the causal effects of pollution on support for the Chinese regime. Our results show that pollution undermines the regime's performance legitimacy: it decreases satisfaction with both central and local governments, increases demand for oversight of government, and negatively affects perceptions of economic performance. Additionally, we time our survey to partially coincide with a period during which the government intentionally reduced air pollution, allowing us to exploit a unique instance of authoritarian environmental engineering. We show that government efforts to reduce pollution do successfully improve citizens' evaluations of the regime. To our knowledge, this paper provides the first causal estimates of the challenges to popular support posed by environmental issues in a developing country, and also illustrates the specific ways that public opinion under authoritarian governance is affected by pollution.

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Does Oil Hinder Democratic Development? A Time-Series Analysis

Kelsey O'Connor, Luisa Blanco & Jeffrey Nugent

University of Southern California Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
The resource curse is a topic studied intensively in both economics and political science. Much of the focus is now on whether oil affects democratic institutions. We further the debate through the use of additional measures of democracy and multiple time-series estimation strategies. We find no robust long-run effect of oil rents per capita on Polity, Civil Liberties, or Political Rights. Many comparable studies were restricted to Polity. We also use different country and period samples to respond to the findings that the effects of oil abundance may differ in Latin America, the Middle East, in mature oil producers, or that the effects become significantly negative post-1980. In each case we do not find a significant relationship. Long-run effects are well placed to address this question because they are estimated separately from short-run fluctuations (important given the slow pace of institutional change), and are consistent even in the presence of reverse causality.

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The Effects of Authoritarian Iconography: An Experimental Test

Sarah Sunn Bush et al.

Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do public images of state leaders affect individuals’ political attitudes and behaviors? If so, why do they have that effect and among whom? Authoritarian iconography could increase compliance with and support for the state via three causal mechanisms: legitimacy, self-interest, and coercion. This article uses a laboratory experiment in the United Arab Emirates to evaluate the effect of public images of state leaders on individuals’ compliance with and support for an authoritarian regime. Using a pre-registered research design, it finds no meaningful evidence that authoritarian iconography increases political compliance or support for the Emirati regime. Although these null results may be due to a number of factors, the findings have important implications for the future research agenda on how and why authoritarian leaders use political culture to maintain power.

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Child soldiers as time bombs? Adolescents’ participation in rebel groups and the recurrence of armed conflict

Roos Haer & Tobias Böhmelt

European Journal of International Relations, June 2016, Pages 408-436

Abstract:
The existent work on child soldiering began only recently to systematically study its consequences, both theoretically and empirically. The following article seeks to contribute to this by examining the impact of rebels’ child soldier recruitment practices during war on the risk of armed conflict recurrence in post-conflict societies. We argue that child soldiering in a previous dispute may increase both the willingness and opportunity to resume fighting in the post-conflict period, while disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes could decrease these aspects of conflict recurrence. Empirically, we analyse time-series cross-section data on post-conflict country-years between 1989 and 2005. The findings highlight that the risk of conflict recurrence does, indeed, increase with child soldiers who fought in an earlier dispute, but — counter-intuitively — is unlikely to be affected by the presence of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in post-conflict societies. This research has important implications for the study of armed conflicts, child soldiering and research on post-conflict stability.

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Left Behind but Doing Good? Civic Engagement in Two Post-Socialist Countries

Milena Nikolova, Monica Roman & Klaus Zimmermann

Journal of Comparative Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The fall of socialism in Central and Eastern Europe restored ordinary citizens’ rights and freedoms and ended their political and social isolation. While the freedom of movement was quickly embraced, civil society revival lagged due to the eroded civic norms, declining social capital, and worsening economic conditions. In this paper, we examine the link between the out-migration of relatives and friends and the pro-social behavior of the left behinds in two post-socialist countries — Bulgaria and Romania — the EU's poorest, and among the least happy and most corrupt member states. We show that having close contacts abroad is consistently positively associated with civic engagement and that the cultural transmission of norms from abroad could be driving the results. Specifically, the strength of the civic engagement culture of the family or friend's destination matters for the pro-social behavior of respondents in the home countries. Our results imply that the emigration of family and friends may have positive but previously undocumented consequences for the individuals and communities left behind in Bulgaria and Romania. Given civil society's role for development in post-socialist Europe and the socio-economic and institutional challenges that Bulgaria and Romania face compared with the rest of the EU, understanding the channels fostering civil society and well-being are important for national and EU policymakers.

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Repression and Activism among the Arab Spring’s First Movers: Evidence from Morocco’s February 20th Movement

Adria Lawrence

British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why are some people willing to initiate protest against authoritarian regimes? How does repression affect their willingness to act? Drawing on data from the Arab Spring protests in Morocco, this article argues first that activism is passed down from one generation to the next: first movers often came from families that had been punished for opposing the regime in the past. Secondly, repression during the Arab Spring was also counterproductive: those connected to first movers via Facebook supported renewed pro-democracy protests when informed of the regime’s use of repression in 2011. A regime that jails and beats political dissidents creates incentives for its citizens to oppose it; these abuses can come back to haunt the regime long after repression occurs.

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Preventing and Responding to Dissent: The Observational Challenges of Explaining Strategic Repression

Emily Hencken Ritter & Courtenay Conrad

American Political Science Review, February 2016, Pages 85-99

Abstract:
Although scholarly consensus suggests that dissent causes repression, the behaviors are endogenous: governments and dissidents act in expectation of each other’s behavior. Empirical studies have not accounted well for this endogeneity. We argue that preventive aspects of repression meaningfully affect the relationship between observed dissent and repression. When governments use preventive repression, the best response to dissent that does occur is unclear; observed dissent does not meaningfully predict responsive repression. By contrast, governments that do not engage in ex ante repression will be more likely to do it ex post. We follow U.S. voting scholarship and propose a new instrument to model the endogeneity: rainfall. We couple rainfall data in African provinces and U.S. states with data on dissent and repression and find that dissent fails to have a significant effect on responsive repression in states that engage in preventive repression.

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From a perpetrator’s perspective: International election observers and post-electoral violence

Hannah Smidt

Journal of Peace Research, March 2016, Pages 226-241

Abstract:
Do international election observers deter or spur violence after election day? This article argues that only when conceptually and empirically distinguishing between violence by governments and opposition groups, can we assess the impact of international election observation. Disaggregating post-electoral violence uncovers that observers can deter governments from using force, but they have the opposite effect on opposition groups. When expecting criticism from observers, opposition leaders can easily deny their responsibility for violence by individual party militants, while weaponry and official insignia betray police and military involvement in violence and force the government to bear command responsibility. Governments also anticipate higher international costs for engaging in post-electoral violence than opposition groups, which are not usually targets of international punishment. On the other hand, international election observers unintentionally incite opposition groups to organize violence, as opposition groups seek to benefit from international attention and support that come with the presence of observers. Observers’ exposure of fraud reverses this differential effect: because governments expect international costs for election rigging anyway, observers cannot deter repression after highly fraudulent elections. But their alertness to electoral malpractice alleviates opposition groups’ incentives for post-electoral violence. Using data on 230 state-wide elections in Africa from 1990 to 2009, the analysis supports the observable implications of this argument. The findings of this article imply that international election observation missions make the post-electoral environment more peaceful when it comes to government repression after non-fraudulent elections. But observers ought to develop greater local expertise to identify opposition grievances before these groups resort to violence and be attentive to the possibility of increased repression after exposing cheating.

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The Homegrown Threat: State Strength, Grievance, and Domestic Terrorism

Sambuddha Ghatak & Brandon Prins

International Interactions, forthcoming

Abstract:
Scholars maintain that, similar to insurgency, terrorist violence is precipitated by both relative deprivation and state weakness. Yet aggrieved minority groups within a country should turn to terrorism when they are weak relative to the state rather than strong. Empirical evidence shows minority group discrimination and fragile political institutions to independently increase domestic terror attacks. But it remains unclear whether grievances drive domestic terrorism in both strong and weak states. Using data from 172 countries between 1998 and 2007, we find that for strong states the presence of minority discrimination leads to increased domestic terrorism, while for weak states the presence of minority discrimination actually leads to less domestic terrorism. Consequently, increasing state capacity may not be a panacea for antistate violence, as nonstate actors may simply change their strategy from insurgency or guerrilla warfare to terrorism. Efforts to reduce terrorist violence must focus on reducing grievance by eliminating discriminatory policies at the same time that measures to improve state capacity are enacted.

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Incentivized Obedience: How a Gentler Israeli Military Prevents Organized Resistance

Erica Weiss

American Anthropologist, March 2016, Pages 91–103

Abstract:
In this article, I offer an ethnographic examination of neoliberal techniques of control through absence by the Israeli military, the state institution most associated with discipline, indoctrination, and direct coercion. I highlight the ways that the apparent withdrawal of the state from practices of indoctrination and the punishment of conscientious objectors are accompanied by a shift in recruitment and training that emphasizes self-advancement and social mobility above national and ideological commitments. While in the past the Israeli state and military focused exclusively on shaping self-sacrificing citizens, today it invests a great deal of its effort in structuring the calculated choices of self-interested individuals toward favorable outcomes. I explore the uneven but strategic deployment of incentivized governance and consider some of the effects of these techniques for the meaning of engaged citizenship and the politics of state violence in a militarized society. Further, I demonstrate that the lightening of disciplinary sanctions in favor of individual freedom is an effective form of weakening dissent and that it confounds efforts to constitute organized resistance to militarism, leaving activists floundering to find effective ways to express their political concerns.

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Long-Term Exposure to Political Violence: The Particular Injury of Persistent Humiliation

Brian Barber et al.

Social Science & Medicine, May 2016, Pages 154–166

Abstract:
This study assessed the association between exposure to political violence over a 25-year period and adult functioning among a population that has experienced protracted and severe political conflict. Instead of aggregating exposure to political violence across time and type of exposure, as is commonly done, the event history calendar pioneered in this study assessed exposure to five forms of political violence annually from 1987 to 2011 in a representative sample of 1,788 adults, aged 37 on average, in the occupied Palestinian territories (West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip). This method allowed for the identification of trajectories of exposure to political violence from childhood to adulthood using latent profile analysis. We then correlated the trajectories of exposure to measures of economic, political, community, family, psychological, and health functioning. As expected, being shot at, having one’s home raided, being hit or kicked, being verbally abused, and witnessing someone close being humiliated were all elevated during periods of heightened political conflict (the first intifada (1987-1993) and, less so, the second intifada (2000-2005)). In addition, 12% of women and men reported high and persistent levels of exposure to humiliation (being verbally abused and/or witnessing someone close being humiliated) across the entire 25-year period. These individuals lived predominantly in neighborhoods with a high Israeli military presence. Compared to those who experienced periodic exposure to political violence, persistently humiliated men and women reported significantly lower health, economic, political, and psychological functioning, as well as higher social cohesion and political expression. Relevant literatures are reviewed when concluding that persistent humiliation is a neglected form of political violence that is best represented as a direct (versus structural), acute (versus chronic), macro (versus micro), and high-grade (versus low-grade) stressor whose particular injury is due to the violation of individual and collective identity, rights, justice and dignity.

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Hands Off My Regime! Governments’ Restrictions on Foreign Aid to Non-Governmental Organizations in Poor and Middle-Income Countries

Kendra Dupuy, James Ron & Aseem Prakash

World Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many resource-strapped developing country governments seek international aid, but when that assistance is channeled through domestic civil society, it can threaten their political control. As a result, in the last two decades, 39 of the world’s 153 low- and middle-income countries have adopted laws restricting the inflow of foreign aid to domestically operating nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Governments recognize that such laws harm their international reputations for supporting democracy and may invite donor punishment in terms of aid reductions. Yet, they perceive foreign aid to NGOs as supporting political opponents and threatening their grip on power. In the aftermath of competitive electoral victories, governments often take new legal steps to limit these groups’ funding. We test this argument on an original dataset of laws detailing the regulation of foreign aid inflows to domestically operating NGOs in 153 low- and middle-income countries for the period 1993–2012. Using an event history approach, we find that foreign aid flows are associated with an increased risk of restrictive law adoption; a log unit increase in foreign aid raises the probability of adoption by 6.7%. This risk is exacerbated after the holding of competitive elections: the interaction of foreign aid and competitive elections increases the probability of adoption by 11%.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sparing a dime

"Wrong place to get help": A field experiment on luxury stores and helping behavior

Lubomir Lamy et al.

Social Influence, Spring 2016, Pages 130-139

Abstract:
Three experiments were conducted in field settings. It was hypothesized that luxury stores may act as environmental reminders of materialism and that helpfulness would vary according to the presence or absence of such cues. Study 1 (N = 80) indicated that consumers coming out of famous brand stores displayed less helpfulness, as compared to mere passersby. Study 2 (N = 112) showed passersby were less helpful near a luxury brand store than in an ordinary street with no shops. In Study 3 (N = 360), passersby were less helpful when walking down a street lined with highly exclusive stores, as compared to streets with ordinary stores or no stores. Results, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.

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Impact of episodic thinking on altruism

Richard Yi et al.

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Episodic future thinking, which refers to the use of prospective imagery to concretely imagine oneself in future scenarios, has been shown to reduce delay discounting (enhance self-control). A parallel approach, in which prospective imagery is used to concretely imagine other's scenarios, may similarly reduce social discounting (i.e., enhance altruism). In study 1, participants engaged in episodic thinking about the self or others, in a repeated-measures design, while completing a social discounting task. Reductions in social discounting were observed as a function of episodic thinking about others, though an interaction with order was also observed. Using an independent-measures design in study 2, the effect of episodic thinking about others was replicated. Study 3 addressed a limitation of studies 1 and 2, the possibility that simply thinking about others decreased social discounting. Capitalizing on Construal Level Theory, which specifies that social distance and time in the future are both dimensions of a common psychological distance, we hypothesized that episodic future thinking should also decrease social discounting. Participants engaged in episodic future thinking or episodic present thinking, in a repeated-measures design, while completing a social discounting task. The pattern of results was similar to study 1, providing support for the notion that episodic thinking about psychologically distant outcomes (for others or in the future) reduces social discounting. Application of similar episodic thinking approaches may enhance altruism.

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Sharing One's Fortune? An Experimental Study on Earned Income and Giving

Mirco Tonin & Michael Vlassopoulos

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this paper, we investigate the relationship between earnings and charitable giving, in an environment in which earnings depend on luck but not in a manner that makes its contribution obvious. We set up a real effort experiment, in which subjects enter data in four one-hour occasions and are paid a piece rate. From the second occasion onwards, we randomly assign half of the subjects to a treatment with higher piece rates, without the subjects being explicitly made aware of the random assignment into the two groups. At the end we ask subjects whether they want to donate a share of their earnings to a charity of their choice. We find that, despite large differences in earnings due to the different piece rates, subjects receiving the higher piece rate are actually less likely to give, and that givers in the two groups give the same share of their total earnings. Charities receive the same average donation from members of the two groups, indicating that charitable giving by subjects in this experiment does not increase with income. We discuss how these results can be explained by self-serving attribution bias.

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Generosity and Guilt: The Role of Beliefs and Moral Standards of Others

Karen Evelyn Hauge

Journal of Economic Psychology, June 2016, Pages 35-43

Abstract:
Why are people generous? One reason may be to avoid feeling guilt - in terms of failing to meet others' expectations or in terms of failing to meet others' moral standards. The present article reports an experiment using the 'dictator game' while manipulating the dictators' beliefs about the receivers' expectations and moral standards. The results indicate that generosity is indeed driven by guilt-aversion: Dictators are more generous when the receiver expects more, and also when the receiver considers that dictators should, morally speaking, give more. If dictators were motivated by pure altruism or equity concerns, the receiver's expectations or moral beliefs should not matter.

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Do People Donate More When They Perceive A Single Beneficiary Whom They Know? A Field Experimental Test of the Identifiability Effect

Omar Al-Ubaydli & Mike Yeomans

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
According to the identifiability effect, people will donate more to a single beneficiary rather than to many beneficiaries, holding constant what the donations are actually used for. We test the identifiability effect for two novel subject pools (the suppliers and beneficiaries of volunteer labor). We also test a refinement of the identifiability effect where we vary whether or not the single beneficiary is personally known to the solicitees. While the behavior of volunteers is consistent with the identifiability effect, we find that the identifiability effect is reversed for beneficiaries of volunteer labor. Moreover, we find that making the single beneficiary personally known to the solicitees lowers donations by a statistically insignificant amount, suggesting that it does not enhance donations.

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When Should the Ask Be a Nudge? The Effect of Default Amounts on Charitable Donations

Indranil Goswami & Oleg Urminsky

Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
How does setting a donation option as the default in a charitable appeal affect people's decisions? In eight studies, comprising 11,508 participants making 2,423 donation decisions in both experimental settings and a large-scale natural field experiment, we investigate the effect of "choice-option" defaults on the donation rate, average donation amount, and the resulting revenue. We find (1) a "lower-bar" effect, where defaulting a low amount increases donation rate, (2) a "scale-back" effect where low defaults reduce average donation amounts and (3) a "default-distraction" effect, where introducing any defaults reduces the effect of other cues, such as positive charity information. Contrary to the view that setting defaults will backfire, defaults increased revenue in our field study. However, our findings suggest that defaults can sometimes be a "self-cancelling" intervention, with countervailing effects of default option magnitude on decisions and resulting in no net effect on revenue. We discuss the implications of our findings for research on fundraising specifically, for choice architecture and behavioral interventions more generally, as well as for the use of "nudges" in policy decisions.

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A Glimpse into the World of High Capacity Givers: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign

Tova Levin, Steven Levitt & John List

NBER Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
The wealthiest 10% of donors now give 90% of charitable dollars in the U.S., but little is known about what motivates them. Using a natural field experiment on over 5,000 high capacity donors, we find persistence in giving patterns, that signals of program quality influence giving, and that the price of giving is not unduly important. Unlike typical small donors, our givers respond only on the intensive margin, and often with a longer time lag. Our study highlights the value to practitioners of partnering with academics, as our intervention has generated $30 million in incremental donations to the University.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Unrestrained

Safety in Numbers: Why the Mere Physical Presence of Others Affects Risk-taking Behaviors

Eileen Chou & Loran Nordgren

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, forthcoming

Abstract:
As social mammals, being in a group signals a state of relative security. Risk-taking behavior in other social mammals formed the basis for our prediction that the mere physical presence of others, absent any social interaction, would create a psychological state of security that, in turn, would promote greater risk-taking behavior. We investigated whether, why, and when the mere physical presence of others affects risk-taking behaviors in three contexts: acceptance of greater financial volatility, attitudes toward risky gambles, and actual gambling behaviors. Results indicate that people in the mere physical presence of others make riskier decisions than people making identical decisions alone, and that feelings of security were the psychological mechanism behind this effect. Our results also suggest that the effect is contingent on whether people are surrounded by others who belong to the same social group. A meta-analysis across all studies presented in this research reveals a highly reliable mere-presence effect. Together, these results demonstrate that the mere physical presence of others can have a potent impact on risk-taking behaviors.

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Vagal Tone and Children's Delay of Gratification: Differential Sensitivity in Resource-Poor and Resource-Rich Environments

Melissa Sturge-Apple et al.

Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Children from different socioeconomic backgrounds have differing abilities to delay gratification, and impoverished children have the greatest difficulties in doing so. In the present study, we examined the role of vagal tone in predicting the ability to delay gratification in both resource-rich and resource-poor environments. We derived hypotheses from evolutionary models of children's conditional adaptation to proximal rearing contexts. In Study 1, we tested whether elevated vagal tone was associated with shorter delay of gratification in impoverished children. In Study 2, we compared the relative role of vagal tone across two groups of children, one that had experienced greater impoverishment and one that was relatively middle-class. Results indicated that in resource-rich environments, higher vagal tone was associated with longer delay of gratification. In contrast, high vagal tone in children living in resource-poor environments was associated with reduced delay of gratification. We interpret the results with an eye to evolutionary-developmental models of the function of children's stress-response system and adaptive behavior across varying contexts of economic risk.

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Self-Esteem, Financial Knowledge and Financial Behavior

Ning Tang & Andrew Baker

Journal of Economic Psychology, June 2016, Pages 164-176

Abstract:
Financial knowledge is an important but insufficient driver of responsible financial behavior. Having a positive evaluation of oneself may also be essential for individuals to initiate and persist with the daunting process of financial management. In this study, we distinguish subjective financial knowledge from objective financial knowledge, and we propose that self-esteem relates to financial behavior both directly as well as indirectly through subjective financial knowledge. Results based on a nationally representative dataset of U.S. adults suggest that self-esteem significantly relates to individual financial behavior after controlling for financial knowledge and other socioeconomic factors. The association between self-esteem and financial behavior could be both direct and indirect through subjective financial knowledge. These findings highlight the importance of psychological traits such as self-esteem in explaining financial behavior difference. Its implications are discussed.

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The Effect of Negative Affect on Cognition: Anxiety, Not Anger, Impairs Executive Function

Grant Shields et al.

Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract:
It is often assumed that negative affect impairs the executive functions that underlie our ability to control and focus our thoughts. However, support for this claim has been mixed. Recent work has suggested that different negative affective states like anxiety and anger may reflect physiologically separable states with distinct effects on cognition. However, the effects of these 2 affective states on executive function have never been assessed. As such, we induced anxiety or anger in participants and examined the effects on executive function. We found that anger did not impair executive function relative to a neutral mood, whereas anxiety did. In addition, self-reports of induced anxiety, but not anger, predicted impairments in executive function. These results support functional models of affect and cognition, and highlight the need to consider differences between anxiety and anger when investigating the influence of negative affect on fundamental cognitive processes such as memory and executive function.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, April 29, 2016

Election daze

The Mythical Swing Voter

Andrew Gelman et al.

Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Spring 2016, Pages 103-130

Abstract:
Most surveys conducted during the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign showed large swings in support for the Democratic and Republican candidates, especially before and after the first presidential debate. Using a combination of traditional cross-sectional surveys, a unique panel survey (in terms of scale, frequency, and source), and a high response rate panel, we find that daily sample composition varied more in response to campaign events than did vote intentions. Multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) is used to correct for this selection bias. Demographic post-stratification, similar to that used in most academic and media polls, is inadequate, but the addition of attitudinal variables (party identification, ideological self-placement, and past vote) appears to make selection ignorable in our data. We conclude that vote swings in 2012 were mostly sample artifacts and that real swings were quite small. While this account is at odds with most contemporaneous analyses, it better corresponds with our understanding of partisan polarization in modern American politics.

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Political Quid Pro Quo and the Impact of Perceptions of Corruption on Democratic Behavior

Kristin Kelly

Election Law Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Since its 1976 ruling in Buckley v. Valeo, the U.S. Supreme Court has voiced concern with corruption and the appearance of corruption stemming from political quid pro quo arrangements-particularly the deleterious consequences either could have on citizens' democratic behavior. Given the vagueness in the Court's definition of the “appearance of corruption,” campaign finance cases since Buckley have relied on survey data to measure perceptions of corruption. These data indicate high levels of perceived governmental corruption among the public but are silent on the question of whether these perceptions influence behavior. This study investigates the actual impact that perceptions of corruption have on individuals' levels of political participation. Adapting the socioeconomic status model developed most fully by Verba and Nie (1972), I estimate extended beta-binomial regressions using maximum likelihood techniques on data from the 2009 University of Texas Money in Politics survey and the 2012 American National Election Studies Time Series survey. The results indicate that individuals who perceive higher levels of corruption participate more in politics, on average, than those who perceive lower levels of corruption. This suggests that at least a few of the assumptions underlying the Court's rationale for upholding contribution limits in Buckley should be revisited, and that the Supreme Court's decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission may not negatively impact participation as suggested by critics.

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The Power of an Hour: Effects of Candidate Time Expenditure in State Legislative Elections

Michael Miller

Legislative Studies Quarterly, May 2016, Pages 327-359

Abstract:
Using survey data from more than 500 legislative candidates in 17 states during the 2008 election, I examine whether state house candidates who devote more time to their campaign win a larger share of the major-party vote. Consistent with previous work studying campaign spending in state legislative elections, I find a positive and significant association between campaign time and vote percentage for challengers - but not incumbents - in incumbent-contested elections.

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Economic Performance and Presidential Trait Evaluations: A Longitudinal Analysis

Lisa Argyle et al.

Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Presidential traits (i.e. morality, intelligence, leadership) have generally been assumed to be idiosyncratic personal characteristics of the individual and are treated as exogenous from other political and economic factors. Prior literature has shown that presidential characteristics and economic performance are important elements of vote choice and approval. Using ANES data from 1984-2008, we demonstrate an important link between these factors, showing that objective and subjective indicators of economic performance are significant predictors of trait evaluations. Specifically, evaluations of the incumbent president at election time are directly related to changes in economic performance earlier in the year. The effects of economic performance are not isolated to retrospective policy evaluations, but also influence the overall evaluation of the president as a person.

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Conditioned by Race: How Race and Religion Intersect to Affect Candidate Evaluations

Bryan McLaughlin & Bailey Thompson

Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
While it is becoming increasingly clear that religious cues influence voter evaluations in the United States, work examining religious cues has largely overlooked the conditioning role of race. We employed a 2 × 2 (White candidate vs. Black candidate) × (racial cues vs. no racial cues) online experiment with a national sample (N = 397; 56% white, 46% black) where participants were exposed to a fictitious congressional candidate's webpage. Results show that White participants expected the religious candidate to be more conservative, regardless of race, while Black participants did not perceive a difference in ideology between the religious and non-religious Black candidates. Additionally, when it comes to candidate favorability, religious cues matter more to White participants, while racial cues are most important to Black participants. These findings provide evidence that religious and racial cues activate different assumptions among White and Black citizens.

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Time Discounting in Political Behavior: Delayed Gratification Predicts Turnout and Donations

Jerome Pablo Schafer

Yale Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
Recent Get-out-the-Vote experiments suggest that political participation involves delayed gratification. The transaction costs of voting are immediate. Its expressive benefits, however, are realized after the election, when others ask. In this article, I draw on a vast literature in psychology and economics to propose a model and a measure of how voters discount future pay-offs. The ability to delay gratification moderates the effects of political stimuli with deferred rewards such as the social norm to vote and the instrumental benefits of donating to a campaign. Therefore, less patient individuals are less willing to participate in politics, and to pretend that they do. In the empirical analysis, I use multiple incentivized measures from a representative US panel (N=1,820). I demonstrate that monetary discount rates provide reliable elicitations of time preferences, and show that they predict self-reported turnout and donor status. I suspend alternative explanations focusing on resources and risk.

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Why Aren't There More Republican Women in Congress? Gender, Partisanship, and Fundraising Support in the 2010 and 2012 Elections

Karin Kitchens & Michele Swers

Politics & Gender, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research indicates that fundraising is not an impediment to women candidates because women raise just as much money as men after accounting for seat status. However, previous research focuses solely on general election candidates. By examining both primary and general election candidates, we find both gender and partisan differences in fundraising. While incumbency, competitiveness, and candidate quality predict fundraising in the general election, we show that Democratic women raise more money than their male counterparts in the primary election. However, Republican women do not enjoy greater fundraising success compared with their male counterparts, and in limited cases, being a Republican woman can be an obstacle to fundraising in the primary election.

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Coethnic Endorsements, Out-Group Candidate Preferences, and Perceptions in Local Elections

Andrea Benjamin

Urban Affairs Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Black and Latino voters support coethnic candidates at high rates in local elections. What is less clear is how Black and Latino voters respond to out-group candidates when they do not have the option to support a coethnic candidate. I posit that when race and ethnicity become salient in a campaign, endorsements from Black and Latino leaders and organizations increase support of out-group candidates among Blacks and Latinos. I find that this hypothesis is strongly supported among Blacks. However, the same is not true for Latinos, most likely because of the political heterogeneity of the group. Using data from a survey experiment, I show that Black endorsements of minority out-group candidates are persuasive for Blacks, while comparable endorsements from Latinos are not as influential among Latinos.

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The Dynamic Election: Patterns of Early Voting Across Time, State, Party, and Age

Ashok Vivekinan et al.

Election Law Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
The nature of turnout has changed in the United States: a shift in state policies has transformed a singular Election Day into a multi-week voting period. During the 2012 election, we assembled daily snapshots of early voting records across the U.S. We observe where and when individuals with key demographic characteristics voted. By measuring the timing of voting by demographic subgroups within small geographic areas, we assess how the early voting period may differentially affect various politically relevant subsets of the electorate. We find that partisans and older voters disproportionately take advantage of early voting, and that political independents and younger individuals who vote early do so much later in the early-voting window. We discuss policy implications, and we also conduct an exploratory analysis of the relationship between early vote timing and campaign events.

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Potential follow-up increases private contributions to public goods

Todd Rogers, John Ternovski & Erez Yoeli

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
People contribute more to public goods when their contributions are made more observable to others. We report an intervention that subtly increases the observability of public goods contributions when people are solicited privately and impersonally (e.g., mail, email, social media). This intervention is tested in a large-scale field experiment (n = 770,946) in which people are encouraged to vote through get-out-the-vote letters. We vary whether the letters include the message, “We may call you after the election to ask about your voting experience.” Increasing the perceived observability of whether people vote by including that message increased the impact of the get-out-the-vote letters by more than the entire effect of a typical get-out-the-vote letter. This technique for increasing perceived observability can be replicated whenever public goods solicitations are made in private.

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Electoral Competition and Gender Differences in Political Careers

Olle Folke & Johanna Rickne

Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Spring 2016, Pages 59-102

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the role of competition between political parties for the promotion and turnover of social minorities in party organizations. We collect extensive and reliable panel data for the career trajectories of all Swedish politicians in 290 municipal councils over 20 years (N=35,000). We argue that political competition pushes local parties to promote the best individual, which in turn improves gender equality at the top. This finds strong support in the empirical analysis. Heightened competition is associated with smaller gender gaps in re-election, retention on the electoral ballot, and promotions to top positions. An extended analysis shows that variation in the qualifications and family structures of male and female politicians cannot account for these results. As a more plausible mechanism, the analysis suggests that parties have nomination processes that are less centralized and more focused on competence as a selection criteria when competition is fierce.

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Complex Contagion of Campaign Donations

Vincent Traag

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Abstract:
Money is central in US politics, and most campaign contributions stem from a tiny, wealthy elite. Like other political acts, campaign donations are known to be socially contagious. We study how campaign donations diffuse through a network of more than 50000 elites and examine how connectivity among previous donors reinforces contagion. We find that the diffusion of donations is driven by independent reinforcement contagion: people are more likely to donate when exposed to donors from different social groups than when they are exposed to equally many donors from the same group. Counter-intuitively, being exposed to one side may increase donations to the other side. Although the effect is weak, simultaneous cross-cutting exposure makes donation somewhat less likely. Finally, the independence of donors in the beginning of a campaign predicts the amount of money that is raised throughout a campaign. We theorize that people infer population-wide estimates from their local observations, with elites assessing the viability of candidates, possibly opposing candidates in response to local support. Our findings suggest that theories of complex contagions need refinement and that political campaigns should target multiple communities.

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Ballot Position, Choice Fatigue, and Voter Behaviour

Ned Augenblick & Scott Nicholson

Review of Economic Studies, April 2016, Pages 460-480

Abstract:
In this article, we examine the effect of “choice fatigue” on decision making. We exploit a natural experiment in which voters face the same contest at different ballot positions due to differences in the number of local issues on their ballot. Facing more decisions before a given contest significantly increases the tendency to abstain or rely on decision shortcuts, such as voting for the status quo or the first-listed candidate. We estimate that, without choice fatigue, abstentions would decrease by 8%, and 6% of the propositions in our data set would have passed rather than failed.

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Get Out the (Costly) Vote: Institutional Design for Greater Participation

Dino Gerardi et al.

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
We examine two commonly discussed institutions inducing turnout: abstention penalties (used in 32 countries) and lotteries rewarding one randomly chosen participant (as proposed on the 2006 Arizona ballot). We analyze a benchmark model in which voters vary in their information quality and participation is costly. We illustrate that both institutions can improve collective outcomes, though lotteries are a more effective instrument asymptotically. Experimentally, we provide strong evidence for selective participation: lab voters participate more when better informed or when institutionally induced. Lotteries fare better than fines, suggesting that they may be a useful alternative to commonly used compulsory voting schemes.

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From Posting to Voting: The Effects of Political Competition on Online Political Engagement

Jaime Settle et al.

Political Science Research and Methods, May 2016, Pages 361-378

Abstract:
How does living in a battleground state during a presidential election affect an individual’s political engagement? We utilize a unique collection of 113 million Facebook status updates to compare users’ political discussion during the 2008 election. “Battleground” state users are significantly more likely to discuss politics in the campaign season than are users in uncompetitive “blackout” states. Posting a political status update - a form of day-to-day engagement with politics - mediates ∼20 percent of the relationship between exposure to political competition and self-reported voter turnout. This paper is among the first to use a massive quantity of social media data to explain the microfoundations of how people think, feel, and act on a daily basis in response to their political environment.

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Compulsory Voting and Dissatisfaction with Democracy

Shane Singh

British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Compulsory voting is often linked to pro-democracy orientations in the public. However, there is reason to question the strength and universality of this link. Engaging research on the effects of coercion and punishment, this article argues that forced participation inflates the tendency of those with negative orientations towards democracy to see the democratic system as illegitimate, and to be dissatisfied with democracy. The study finds support for these expectations in analyses of three separate cross-national surveys and a natural experiment. Compulsory voting heightens dissatisfaction with democracy within key segments of the population.

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Can Credit Rating Agencies Affect Election Outcomes?

Igor Cunha, Miguel Ferreira & Rui Silva

London Business School Working Paper, March 2016

Abstract:
We show that credit rating agencies can have a significant effect on election outcomes in the United States. Specifically, we find that incumbent politicians receive significantly more votes in upgraded municipalities relative to non-upgraded municipalities. This incumbent effect is due to an expansion of local governments’ debt capacity that allows them to increase spending. The effects are stronger among democratic incumbents. We identify these effects by exploiting the exogenous variation in municipal bond ratings due to Moody’s recalibration of its scale in 2010.

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Compulsory Voting Can Increase Political Inequality: Evidence from Brazil

Gabriel Cepaluni & Daniel Hidalgo

Political Analysis, Spring 2016, Pages 273-280

Abstract:
One of the most robust findings on political institutions is that compulsory voting (CV) reduces the participation gap between poorer and wealthier voters. We present evidence that in Brazil, the largest country to use such a rule, CV increases inequality in turnout. We use individual-level data on 140 million Brazilian citizens and two age-based discontinuities to estimate the heterogeneous effects of CV by educational achievement, a strong proxy for socioeconomic status. Evidence from both thresholds shows that the causal effect of CV on turnout among the more educated is at least twice the size of the effect among those with less education. To explain this result, which is the opposite of what is predicted by the existing literature, we argue that nonmonetary penalties for abstention primarily affect middle- and upper-class voters and thus increase their turnout disproportionately. Survey evidence from a national sample provides evidence for the mechanism. Our results show that studies of CV should consider nonmonetary sanctions, as their effects can reverse standard predictions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, April 28, 2016

For the love of God

Congregational Diversity and Attendance in a Mainline Protestant Denomination

Kevin Dougherty, Brandon Martinez & Gerardo Martí

Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, December 2015, Pages 668–683

Abstract:
One of the surprising oversights of existing research on racially/ethnically diverse congregations is the inattention to how racial composition relates to patterns of attendance. Is diversity associated with attendance growth, stability, or decline? A popular assumption from the Church Growth Movement is that cultural homogeneity is a foundation for growth, but recent research challenges this long-standing belief. We test these competing views with longitudinal data from over 10,000 congregations in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We examine the relationship between changes in racial/ethnic diversity and changes in average weekly attendance over a 19-year time period (1993–2012). In spite of the ELCA's denominational push for racial diversity in its local churches, our analysis finds increasing racial diversity associated with decreasing average attendance, most notably during the 1990s. To conclude, we discuss the implications of our findings for congregations and denominations.

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Religious Origins of Democracy & Dictatorship

Theocharis Grigoriadis

Journal of Policy Modeling, forthcoming

Abstract:
Weber considered the Protestant work ethic the foundation of modern capitalism. I extend Weber's theory by arguing that states with predominantly Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Muslim populations have had a stronger inclination toward underdevelopment and dictatorship than states with Protestant or Jewish majorities. This is the case because their respective religious collectives (monastery, tariqa) promote the hierarchical provision of common goods at the expense of market incentives. I define the aforementioned three religions as collectivist, in contrast to Protestantism and Judaism, which I define as individualist. I provide a historical overview that designates the Jewish kibbutz as the collective of democracy and the Eastern Orthodox monastery as the collective of dictatorship. Focusing on collectivist economies, I find that modernization, as a credible commitment to the improved future provision of public goods, occurs when the threat of a radical government is imminent and when the leader has high extraction of rents from the economy. The emergence of radical governments is more likely in collectivist than in individualist economies. Historical illustrations from collectivist economies include the Russian Revolution, the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and the postwar welfare state in Western Europe.

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Pre-Reformation Roots of the Protestant Ethic

Thomas Barnebeck Andersen et al.

Economic Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We hypothesize that cultural appreciation of hard work and thrift, the Protestant ethic according to Max Weber, had a pre-Reformation origin: the Catholic Order of Cistercians. In support, we document an impact from the Order on growth within the epicenter of the industrial revolution; English counties that were more exposed to Cistercian monasteries experienced faster productivity growth from the 13th century onwards. Consistent with a cultural influence, this impact is also found after the monasteries were dissolved in the 1530s. Moreover, the values emphasized by Weber are relatively more pervasive in European regions where Cistercian monasteries were located historically.

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The Protestant Reading Ethic and Variation in Its Effects

James Mosher

Sociological Forum, forthcoming

Abstract:
Max Weber's thesis that a “Protestant ethic” in a subset of Protestant sects created a “spirit of capitalism” is often interpreted as an explanation for the increase in economic growth in the Protestant parts of the West before and during the industrial revolution. One alternative pathway through which Protestantism might have contributed to high economic performance is that it was Protestantism's promotion of literacy that led to higher economic growth and not behavioral changes due to a Protestant ethic as suggested by Weber. To evaluate the “Protestant reading ethic” thesis, this study examines historical events for the period from 1500 up to the 1800s in nine countries. The study also explores available cross-national quantitative data on economic development and literacy for the same period. The qualitative and quantitative evidence supports the overall thesis that Protestantism promoted literacy and rises in literacy likely contributed to the economic development. The evidence also suggests that the impact of Protestantism on literacy varied depending on what actions were taken by Protestant states and Protestant national churches to promote literacy.

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Hell to pay: Religion and punitive ideology among the American public

Joseph Baker & Alexis Booth

Punishment & Society, April 2016, Pages 151-176

Abstract:
Historically, religious frameworks — particularly conceptions of evil — have been tied to attitudes about criminal behavior and its corresponding punishment, yet views of transcendent evil have not been explored in the empirical literature on religion and punitive ideology. We examine whether and how different aspects of religiosity shape punitive attitudes, using a national sample of Americans. For both general punitiveness and views of capital punishment, belief in the existence and power of transcendent religious evil (e.g. Satan and hell) is strongly associated with greater punitiveness, while higher levels of religious practice (service attendance, prayer, and reading sacred scriptures) reduces punitiveness. The effects of other aspects of religiosity on punitiveness such as self-identified fundamentalism, scriptural literalism, and images of God are rendered spurious by accounting for perceptions of evil. We discuss these findings in light of cultural and comparative approaches to penology, arguing for the inclusion of conceptions of the “transgressive” sacred in studies of, and theories about, penal populism.

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Using the Qur’ān to Empower Arab Women? Theory and Experimental Evidence From Egypt

Tarek Masoud, Amaney Jamal & Elizabeth Nugent

Comparative Political Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
A growing body of scholarship on the political and economic subordination of women in the Muslim world has argued that widespread patriarchal attitudes toward women’s roles in public life can be ameliorated by offering progressive reinterpretations of Islamic scriptures. In this article, we explore this hypothesis with a large-scale survey experiment conducted among adult Egyptians in late 2013. In the study, a subset of respondents were exposed to an argument in favor of women’s political equality that was grounded in the Qur’ān, Islam’s holiest text. We found that this group was significantly more willing to express approval of female political leadership than those exposed to a non-religious argument in favor of women’s eligibility for political leadership. A further analysis of conditional treatment effects suggests that the religious justification for female political leadership was more likely to elicit agreement among less educated and less pious respondents, and when delivered by women and targeted at men. Our findings suggest that Islamic discourse, so often used to justify the political exclusion of women, can also be used to help empower them.

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Sacred violence or strategic faith? Disentangling the relationship between religion and violence in armed conflict

Matthew Isaacs

Journal of Peace Research, March 2016, Pages 211-225

Abstract:
Why are religious conflicts more violent than non-religious conflicts? Research has argued that religion pushes partisans toward violence. However, existing research suffers from widespread problems of measurement validity and fails to confront the possibility of endogeneity in the relationship between religion and violence. This article develops a more precise measure of the relevance of religion to conflict based on the use of religious rhetoric by political organizations. With this approach in mind, this article disentangles the causal sequence linking religious rhetoric and violence using annually coded data on the rhetoric of 495 organizations worldwide from 1970 through 2012. The analysis finds a strong general correlation between religious rhetoric and violence. However, past use of religious rhetoric does not increase the likelihood that an organization will participate in violence or the overall intensity of conflict. On the contrary, previous participation in violence makes an organization more likely to adopt religious rhetoric for mobilization. Indeed, religious rhetoric becomes more likely as violence increases in intensity and conflict continues for longer periods of time. These findings suggest that violent actors adopt religious rhetoric to solve the logistical challenges associated with violence, including access to mobilizing resources and recruitment and retention of members. This article contributes to the study of religious conflict by providing evidence of endogeneity in the relationship between religion and violence and highlighting the need for temporally sensitive measures of religious mobilization.

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War, Worries, and Religiousness

Hongfei Du & Peilian Chi

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Terror management theory posits that death-related threats increase people’s investment in religious activity, dedication, and belief. Given that war usually results in deaths, the authors hypothesized that war, as a death-related threat, would be associated with greater religiousness. The present research assessed this hypothesis with a large worldwide sample (N = 86,272). Using the Global Peace Index and World Value Survey, the authors found that people were more religious (i.e., religious practice, religious identity, and belief in God) when their countries and districts suffered from more wars/conflicts. The positive relationship between war and religiousness was partially explained by worries about war. That is, people in countries with existing war/conflict experienced higher levels of worries about war and, in turn, showed increased religiousness.

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The Evolution of Gods’ Minds in the Tyva Republic

Benjamin Grant Purzycki

Current Anthropology, forthcoming

Abstract:
As appeals to what gods know and care about often motivate and rationalize human behavior, understanding shared models of gods’ minds is crucial for understanding religion’s contributions to human sociality. If religious systems function to minimize the effects of social and ecological problems, then models of gods’ concerns should coevolve with these problems. The present work assesses this prediction using data collected in the Tyva Republic. After briefly introducing the social and ecological history of ritual cairn piety in Inner Asia, I examine explicit representational models of morality, virtue, and gods’ concerns in Tyva. I show that (a) there is very little conceptual overlap between Tyvans’ models of morality and virtue and the things about which spirits care, (b) Tyvan spirit masters are primarily concerned with ritual and breaches of resource maintenance, and (c) among the emerging, salient factors that anger spirit masters are alcohol abuse and littering, very recent social problems in the region. This report provides support for the hypothesis that representational models of gods’ minds will evolve in accordance with ever-shifting local problems and offers the first formal treatment of empirically determining what constitutes a “moralistic” deity among living people.

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Health and Well-Being Among the Non-religious: Atheists, Agnostics, and No Preference Compared with Religious Group Members

David Hayward et al.

Journal of Religion and Health, June 2016, Pages 1024-1037

Abstract:
Although recent research suggests that the proportion of the US population identifying as non-religious has been rapidly expanding over the course of the last decade, relatively little research has examined the implications of this development for health and well-being. This study uses data from a large representative survey study of religion and health in the adult US population (N = 3010) to examine group differences among religious group members (N = 2401) and three categories of non-religious individuals: atheists (N = 83), agnostics (N = 189), and those stating no religious preference (N = 329). MANCOVA was used to analyze group differences on five outcome dimensions, incorporating 27 outcome variables. Religious non-affiliates did not differ overall from affiliates in terms of physical health outcomes (although atheists and agnostics did have better health on some individual measures including BMI, number of chronic conditions, and physical limitations), but had worse positive psychological functioning characteristics, social support relationships, and health behaviors. On dimensions related to psychological well-being, atheists and agnostics tended to have worse outcomes than either those with religious affiliation or those with no religious preference. If current trends in the religious composition of the population continue, these results have implications for its future healthcare needs.

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Religious Pluralism and Civic Rights in a “Muslim Nation”: An Analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with Christians

Craig Considine

Religions, February 2016

Abstract:
This article examines the roles that religious pluralism and civic rights played in Prophet Muhammad’s vision of a “Muslim nation”. I demonstrate how Muhammad desired a pluralistic society in which citizenship and equal rights were granted to all people regardless of religious beliefs and practices. The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of his time are used as a framework for analysis. These documents have received little attention in our time, but their messages are crucial in light of current debates about Muslim-Christian relations. The article campaigns for reviving the egalitarian spirit of the Covenants by refocusing our understanding of the ummah as a site for religious freedom and civil rights. Ultimately, I argue that the Covenants of Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of his time can be used to develop a stronger narrative of democratic partnership between Muslims and Christians in the “Islamic world” and beyond.

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Human Capital and the Supply of Religion

Joseph Engelberg et al.

Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study the role of labor inputs in religious attendance using data on Oklahoma Methodist congregations during 1961-2003. Pastors play a significant role in church growth: replacing a 25th percentile pastor with a 75th percentile one increases annual attendance growth by three percent. A pastor's performance in his first church (largely the result of random assignment) predicts future performance, suggesting a causal effect of pastors on growth. The deployment of pastors by the church indicates efficient use of labor: low-performing pastors are more likely to be rotated or exit the sample, and high-performing pastors are moved to larger congregations.

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Mixed Reactions: How Religious Motivation Explains Responses to Religious Rhetoric in Politics

Jay Jennings

Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article hypothesizes that religious motivation can explain varied responses to the political use of religious rhetoric. Religious motivation — religion’s place in an individual’s life — is an important determinant of individual behavior and attitude formation, and variation in religious motivation can explain why some religious citizens are attracted to candidates using religious appeals while others are clearly not. Using a survey experiment, this article tests the effect of Judeo-Christian religious language and attempts to isolate differences among the religious in how they respond to religious rhetoric in the American political environment. The goal of this article then becomes twofold. First, it introduces a measure of religious motivation and demonstrates that it is a unique measure of individual difference with independent effects beyond traditional measures of religiosity, personality, and conservatism. The second goal is to demonstrate that religious motivation can explain variance in reactions to religious rhetoric within a campaign environment. Religious individuals respond differently to religious appeals, with some evaluating candidates higher when religious words were used while others rated candidates lower. The types of religious motivation (extrinsic, intrinsic, and quest) are shown to be much better predictors of responses to religious rhetoric than traditional measures of religiosity.

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Does a Nation's Religious Composition Affect Generalized Trust? The Role of Religious Heterogeneity and the Percent Religious

Daniel Olson & Miao Li

Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, December 2015, Pages 756–773

Abstract:
Is religion more of an integrative or a divisive force in contemporary societies? We use multilevel analyses of World Values Survey data from 77,409 individuals in 69 countries to examine how both the percent of the population that is religious and the religious heterogeneity of a country are related to generalized social trust, the willingness of individuals to trust “most people.” When we first examine the main effects of the percent religious and religious heterogeneity we find no evidence that either variable is related to trust in the ways predicted by major theories. However, the combination of these two variables has a huge negative relationship with trust. Countries that are both highly religious and religiously heterogeneous (diverse) have, on average, levels of trust that are only half the average levels of countries with other combinations of these two variables. The results have important implications for understanding the role of religion in modern societies.

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Atheists and Agnostics Are More Reflective than Religious Believers: Four Empirical Studies and a Meta-Analysis

Gordon Pennycook et al.

PLoS ONE, April 2016

Abstract:
Individual differences in the mere willingness to think analytically has been shown to predict religious disbelief. Recently, however, it has been argued that analytic thinkers are not actually less religious; rather, the putative association may be a result of religiosity typically being measured after analytic thinking (an order effect). In light of this possibility, we report four studies in which a negative correlation between religious belief and performance on analytic thinking measures is found when religious belief is measured in a separate session. We also performed a meta-analysis on all previously published studies on the topic along with our four new studies (N = 15,078, k = 31), focusing specifically on the association between performance on the Cognitive Reflection Test (the most widely used individual difference measure of analytic thinking) and religious belief. This meta-analysis revealed an overall negative correlation (r) of -.18, 95% CI [-.21, -.16]. Although this correlation is modest, self-identified atheists (N = 133) scored 18.7% higher than religiously affiliated individuals (N = 597) on a composite measure of analytic thinking administered across our four new studies (d = .72). Our results indicate that the association between analytic thinking and religious disbelief is not caused by a simple order effect. There is good evidence that atheists and agnostics are more reflective than religious believers.

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Making and Unmaking Prejudice: Religious Affiliation Mitigates the Impact of Mortality Salience on Out-Group Attitudes

Anna-Kaisa Newheiser et al.

Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, December 2015, Pages 774–791

Abstract:
Research inspired by terror management theory has established that being reminded of the inevitability of death (i.e., “mortality salience”) leads people to express more negative attitudes toward out-groups. We examined the hypothesis that being affiliated with a religion may buffer individuals against this negative impact of mortality salience. Two studies, conducted in two cultures that differ in their emphasis on religiosity (the United Kingdom and Italy), supported this hypothesis. Specifically, we found that mortality salience resulted in more negative out-group attitudes only among participants not affiliated with any religion. Further, this buffering effect of religious affiliation was not moderated by participants’ specific religious orientations or by their levels of social dominance orientation. In addition, the buffering effect did not hold when prejudice against the target out-group was not proscribed by religious authorities. Implications for research on religion, prejudice, and terror management are discussed.

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On God-Belief and Feeling Clean: Daily Experiences Are Related to Feeling Clean, Particularly for Those High in God-Belief

Adam Fetterman

Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent work has shown robust associations between morality and cleanliness. However, it is not known whether this association is equally consequential for everyone. I predicted that individuals high (vs. low) in God-belief would be more likely to draw upon feelings of cleanliness to represent their moral concerns. To test this hypothesis, I used a 2-week daily sampling protocol. In an initial session, I measured participants’ (N = 135) level of God-belief. I then measured participants’ levels of daily cleanliness, neuroticism, impulsivity, and prosocial behaviors every evening. Daily feelings of cleanliness predicted lower levels of neuroticism but only for those high in God-belief. Daily impulsive behaviors predicted lower feelings of cleanliness, and daily prosocial behaviors predicted higher feelings of cleanliness. God-belief moderated these effects such that they were stronger for those higher, than lower, in God-belief. In closing, I discuss potential reasons for these moderation effects and other theoretical considerations.

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The Exit-Voice Choice: Religious Cleavages, Public Aid, and America's Private Schools

Ursula Hackett

Politics and Religion, forthcoming

Abstract:
In America's culture wars denominations increasingly ally with one another despite differences in theology, church organization, and membership. But these developments are not reflected in America's private K-12 school system or in patterns of public aid for children who attend them where divisions between religious traditions remain stark. I demonstrate, by means of an analysis of critical junctures in American political development supported by statistical analysis, that Catholics who desire a religious education for their children have historically tended to exit for the parochial sector while Evangelicals having similar desires lobbied for reform of the public school system. These differential group responses stem from differing conceptions of identity and belonging, theological understanding, and institutional structure. In American education policy, differences between religious groups are surprisingly tenacious.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Seasoning

Recent improvement and projected worsening of weather in the United States

Patrick Egan & Megan Mullin

Nature, 21 April 2016, Pages 357–360

Abstract:
As climate change unfolds, weather systems in the United States have been shifting in patterns that vary across regions and seasons. Climate science research typically assesses these changes by examining individual weather indicators, such as temperature or precipitation, in isolation, and averaging their values across the spatial surface. As a result, little is known about population exposure to changes in weather and how people experience and evaluate these changes considered together. Here we show that in the United States from 1974 to 2013, the weather conditions experienced by the vast majority of the population improved. Using previous research on how weather affects local population growth to develop an index of people’s weather preferences, we find that 80% of Americans live in counties that are experiencing more pleasant weather than they did four decades ago. Virtually all Americans are now experiencing the much milder winters that they typically prefer, and these mild winters have not been offset by markedly more uncomfortable summers or other negative changes. Climate change models predict that this trend is temporary, however, because US summers will eventually warm more than winters. Under a scenario in which greenhouse gas emissions proceed at an unabated rate (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5), we estimate that 88% of the US public will experience weather at the end of the century that is less preferable than weather in the recent past. Our results have implications for the public’s understanding of the climate change problem, which is shaped in part by experiences with local weather. Whereas weather patterns in recent decades have served as a poor source of motivation for Americans to demand a policy response to climate change, public concern may rise once people’s everyday experiences of climate change effects start to become less pleasant.

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Climate change and interpersonal violence: A “global” estimate and regional inequities

Dennis Mares & Kenneth Moffett

Climatic Change, March 2016, Pages 297-310

Abstract:
This study estimates the predicted impact of climate change on levels of violence in a sample of 57 countries. We sample western and non-western countries and perform a multilevel ARFIMA regression to examine if warmer temperatures are associated with higher levels of homicide. Our results indicate that each degree Celsius increase in annual temperatures is associated with a nearly 6 % average increase in homicides. Regional variation in this predicted effect is detected, for example, with no apparent effects in former Soviet countries and far stronger effects found in Africa. Such variation indicates that climate change may acutely increase violence in areas that already are affected by higher levels of homicides and other social dislocations.

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Network structure and influence of the climate change counter-movement

Justin Farrell

Nature Climate Change, April 2016, Pages 370–374

Abstract:
Anthropogenic climate change represents a global threat to human well-being and ecosystem functioning. Yet despite its importance for science and policy, our understanding of the causes of widespread uncertainty and doubt found among the general public remains limited. The political and social processes driving such doubt and uncertainty are difficult to rigorously analyse, and research has tended to focus on the individual-level, rather than the larger institutions and social networks that produce and disseminate contrarian information. This study presents a new approach by using network science to uncover the institutional and corporate structure of the climate change counter-movement, and machine-learning text analysis to show its influence in the news media and bureaucratic politics. The data include a new social network of all known organizations and individuals promoting contrarian viewpoints, as well as the entirety of all written and verbal texts about climate change from 1993–2013 from every organization, three major news outlets, all US presidents, and every occurrence on the floor of the US Congress. Using network and computational text analysis, I find that the organizational power within the contrarian network, and the magnitude of semantic similarity, are both predicted by ties to elite corporate benefactors.

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The role of race and ethnicity in climate change polarization: Evidence from a U.S. national survey experiment

Jonathon Schuldt & Adam Pearson

Climatic Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research suggests that public divides on climate change may often be rooted in identity processes, driven in part by a motivation to associate with others with similar political and ideological views. In a large split-ballot national survey experiment of 2041 U.S. adults, we explored the role of a non-partisan identity — racial/ethnic majority and minority status — in climate change opinion, in addition to respondents’ political orientation (i.e., ideology and party affiliation). Specifically, we examined respondents’ climate beliefs and policy support, identification with groups that support environmental causes (“environmentalists”), and the sensitivity of these beliefs to other factors known to predict issue polarization (political orientation and issue framing). Results revealed that across all opinion metrics, non-Whites’ views were less politically polarized than those of Whites and were unaffected by exposure to different ways of framing the issue (as “global warming” versus “climate change”). Moreover, non-Whites were reliably less likely to self-identify as environmentalists compared to Whites, despite expressing existence beliefs and support for regulating greenhouse gases at levels comparable to Whites. These findings suggest that racial and ethnic identities can shape core climate change beliefs in previously overlooked ways. We consider implications for public outreach and climate science advocacy.

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Historically hottest summers projected to be the norm for more than half of the world's population within 20 years

Brigitte Mueller, Xuebin Zhang & Francis Zwiers

Environmental Research Letters, April 2016

Abstract:
We project that within the next two decades, half of the world's population will regularly (every second summer on average) experience regional summer mean temperatures that exceed those of the historically hottest summer, even under the moderate RCP4.5 emissions pathway. This frequency threshold for hot temperatures over land, which have adverse effects on human health, society and economy, might be broached in little more than a decade under the RCP8.5 emissions pathway. These hot summer frequency projections are based on adjusted RCP4.5 and 8.5 temperature projections, where the adjustments are performed with scaling factors determined by regularized optimal fingerprinting analyzes that compare historical model simulations with observations over the period 1950-2012. A temperature reconstruction technique is then used to simulate a multitude of possible past and future temperature evolutions, from which the probability of a hot summer is determined for each region, with a hot summer being defined as the historically warmest summer on record in that region. Probabilities with and without external forcing show that hot summers are now about ten times more likely (fraction of attributable risk 0.9) in many regions of the world than they would have been in the absence of past greenhouse gas increases. The adjusted future projections suggest that the Mediterranean, Sahara, large parts of Asia and the Western US and Canada will be among the first regions for which hot summers will become the norm (i.e. occur on average every other year), and that this will occur within the next 1-2 decades.

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Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: Evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 °C global warming could be dangerous

James Hansen et al.

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 22 March 2016, Pages 3761-3812

Abstract:
We use numerical climate simulations, paleoclimate data, and modern observations to study the effect of growing ice melt from Antarctica and Greenland. Meltwater tends to stabilize the ocean column, inducing amplifying feedbacks that increase subsurface ocean warming and ice shelf melting. Cold meltwater and induced dynamical effects cause ocean surface cooling in the Southern Ocean and North Atlantic, thus increasing Earth's energy imbalance and heat flux into most of the global ocean's surface. Southern Ocean surface cooling, while lower latitudes are warming, increases precipitation on the Southern Ocean, increasing ocean stratification, slowing deepwater formation, and increasing ice sheet mass loss. These feedbacks make ice sheets in contact with the ocean vulnerable to accelerating disintegration. We hypothesize that ice mass loss from the most vulnerable ice, sufficient to raise sea level several meters, is better approximated as exponential than by a more linear response. Doubling times of 10, 20 or 40 years yield multi-meter sea level rise in about 50, 100 or 200 years. Recent ice melt doubling times are near the lower end of the 10–40-year range, but the record is too short to confirm the nature of the response. The feedbacks, including subsurface ocean warming, help explain paleoclimate data and point to a dominant Southern Ocean role in controlling atmospheric CO2, which in turn exercised tight control on global temperature and sea level. The millennial (500–2000-year) timescale of deep-ocean ventilation affects the timescale for natural CO2 change and thus the timescale for paleo-global climate, ice sheet, and sea level changes, but this paleo-millennial timescale should not be misinterpreted as the timescale for ice sheet response to a rapid, large, human-made climate forcing. These climate feedbacks aid interpretation of events late in the prior interglacial, when sea level rose to +6–9 m with evidence of extreme storms while Earth was less than 1 °C warmer than today. Ice melt cooling of the North Atlantic and Southern oceans increases atmospheric temperature gradients, eddy kinetic energy and baroclinicity, thus driving more powerful storms. The modeling, paleoclimate evidence, and ongoing observations together imply that 2 °C global warming above the preindustrial level could be dangerous. Continued high fossil fuel emissions this century are predicted to yield (1) cooling of the Southern Ocean, especially in the Western Hemisphere; (2) slowing of the Southern Ocean overturning circulation, warming of the ice shelves, and growing ice sheet mass loss; (3) slowdown and eventual shutdown of the Atlantic overturning circulation with cooling of the North Atlantic region; (4) increasingly powerful storms; and (5) nonlinearly growing sea level rise, reaching several meters over a timescale of 50–150 years. These predictions, especially the cooling in the Southern Ocean and North Atlantic with markedly reduced warming or even cooling in Europe, differ fundamentally from existing climate change assessments. We discuss observations and modeling studies needed to refute or clarify these assertions.

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Shipwreck rates reveal Caribbean tropical cyclone response to past radiative forcing

Valerie Trouet, Grant Harley & Marta Domínguez-Delmás

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 22 March 2016, Pages 3169–3174

Abstract:
Assessing the impact of future climate change on North Atlantic tropical cyclone (TC) activity is of crucial societal importance, but the limited quantity and quality of observational records interferes with the skill of future TC projections. In particular, North Atlantic TC response to radiative forcing is poorly understood and creates the dominant source of uncertainty for twenty-first-century projections. Here, we study TC variability in the Caribbean during the Maunder Minimum (MM; 1645–1715 CE), a period defined by the most severe reduction in solar irradiance in documented history (1610–present). For this purpose, we combine a documentary time series of Spanish shipwrecks in the Caribbean (1495–1825 CE) with a tree-growth suppression chronology from the Florida Keys (1707–2009 CE). We find a 75% reduction in decadal-scale Caribbean TC activity during the MM, which suggests modulation of the influence of reduced solar irradiance by the cumulative effect of cool North Atlantic sea surface temperatures, El Niño–like conditions, and a negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation. Our results emphasize the need to enhance our understanding of the response of these oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns to radiative forcing and climate change to improve the skill of future TC projections.

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More extreme precipitation in the world’s dry and wet regions

Markus Donat et al.

Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Intensification of the hydrological cycle is expected to accompany a warming climate. It has been suggested that changes in the spatial distribution of precipitation will amplify differences between dry and wet regions, but this has been disputed for changes over land. Furthermore, precipitation changes may differ not only between regions but also between different aspects of precipitation, such as totals and extremes. Here we investigate changes in these two aspects in the world’s dry and wet regions using observations and global climate models. Despite uncertainties in total precipitation changes, extreme daily precipitation averaged over both dry and wet regimes shows robust increases in both observations and climate models over the past six decades. Climate projections for the rest of the century show continued intensification of daily precipitation extremes. Increases in total and extreme precipitation in dry regions are linearly related to the model-specific global temperature change, so that the spread in projected global warming partly explains the spread in precipitation intensification in these regions by the late twenty-first century. This intensification has implications for the risk of flooding as the climate warms, particularly for the world’s dry regions.

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How will climate change affect wildland fire severity in the western US?

Sean Parks et al.

Environmental Research Letters, March 2016

Abstract:
Fire regime characteristics in North America are expected to change over the next several decades as a result of anthropogenic climate change. Although some fire regime characteristics (e.g., area burned and fire season length) are relatively well-studied in the context of a changing climate, fire severity has received less attention. In this study, we used observed data from 1984 to 2012 for the western United States (US) to build a statistical model of fire severity as a function of climate. We then applied this model to several (n = 20) climate change projections representing mid-century (2040–2069) conditions under the RCP 8.5 scenario. Model predictions suggest widespread reduction in fire severity for large portions of the western US. However, our model implicitly incorporates climate-induced changes in vegetation type, fuel load, and fire frequency. As such, our predictions are best interpreted as a potential reduction in fire severity, a potential that may not be realized due human-induced disequilibrium between plant communities and climate. Consequently, to realize the reductions in fire severity predicted in this study, land managers in the western US could facilitate the transition of plant communities towards a state of equilibrium with the emerging climate through means such as active restoration treatments (e.g., mechanical thinning and prescribed fire) and passive restoration strategies like managed natural fire (under suitable weather conditions). Resisting changes in vegetation composition and fuel load via activities such as aggressive fire suppression will amplify disequilibrium conditions and will likely result in increased fire severity in future decades because fuel loads will increase as the climate warms and fire danger becomes more extreme. The results of our study provide insights to the pros and cons of resisting or facilitating change in vegetation composition and fuel load in the context of a changing climate.

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Risk of multiple interacting tipping points should encourage rapid CO2 emission reduction

Yongyang Cai, Timothy Lenton & Thomas Lontzek

Nature Climate Change, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evidence suggests that several elements of the climate system could be tipped into a different state by global warming, causing irreversible economic damages. To address their policy implications, we incorporated five interacting climate tipping points into a stochastic-dynamic integrated assessment model, calibrating their likelihoods and interactions on results from an existing expert elicitation. Here we show that combining realistic assumptions about policymakers’ preferences under uncertainty, with the prospect of multiple future interacting climate tipping points, increases the present social cost of carbon in the model nearly eightfold from US$15 per tCO2 to US$116 per tCO2. Furthermore, passing some tipping points increases the likelihood of other tipping points occurring to such an extent that it abruptly increases the social cost of carbon. The corresponding optimal policy involves an immediate, massive effort to control CO2 emissions, which are stopped by mid-century, leading to climate stabilization at <1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.

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Potential stabilizing points to mitigate tipping point interactions in Earth's climate

Cedric Gaucherel & Vincent Moron

International Journal of Climatology, forthcoming

Abstract:
‘Tipping points’ (TPs) are thresholds of potentially disproportionate changes in the Earth's climate system associated with future global warming and are considered today as a ‘hot’ topic in environmental sciences. In this study, TP interactions are analysed from an integrated and conceptual point of view using two qualitative Boolean models built on graph grammars. They allow an accurate study of the node TP interactions previously identified by expert elicitation and take into account a range of various large-scale climate processes potentially able to trigger, alone or jointly, instability in the global climate. Our findings show that, contrary to commonly held beliefs, far from causing runaway changes in the Earth's climate, such as self-acceleration due to additive positive feedbacks, successive perturbations might actually lead to its stabilization. A more comprehensive model defined TPs as interactions between nine (non-exhaustive) large-scale subsystems of the Earth's climate, highlighting the enhanced sensitivity to the triggering of the disintegration of the west Antarctic ice sheet. We are claiming that today, it is extremely difficult to guess the fate of the global climate system as TP sensitivity depends strongly on the definition of the model. Finally, we demonstrate the stronger effect of decreasing rules (i.e. mitigating connected TPs) over other rule types, thus suggesting the critical role of possible ‘stabilizing points’ that are yet to be identified and studied.

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Climate change and the Ethiopian economy: A CGE analysis

Zenebe Gebreegziabher et al.

Environment and Development Economics, April 2016, Pages 205-225

Abstract:
The paper analyzes the economic impacts of climate change-induced fluctuations on the performance of Ethiopia's agriculture, using a countrywide computable general equilibrium (CGE) model. We model the impacts on agriculture using a Ricardian model, where current agricultural production is modelled as a function of temperature and precipitation, among other things, and where future agriculture is assumed to follow the same climate function. The effect of overall climate change is projected to be relatively benign until approximately 2030, but will become considerably worse thereafter. Our simulation results indicate that, over a 50-year period, the projected reduction in agricultural productivity may lead to reductions in average income of some 20 per cent compared with the outcome that would have prevailed in the absence of climate change. This indicates that adaptation policies – both government planned and those that ease autonomous adaptation by farmers – will be crucial for Ethiopia's future development.

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Projections of future floods and hydrological droughts in Europe under a +2°C global warming

Philippe Roudier et al.

Climatic Change, March 2016, Pages 341-355

Abstract:
We present an assessment of the impacts of a +2°C global warming on extreme floods and hydrological droughts (1 in 10 and 1 in 100 year events) in Europe using eleven bias-corrected climate model simulations from CORDEX Europe and three hydrological models. The results show quite contrasted results between northern and southern Europe. Flood magnitudes are expected to increase significantly south of 60oN, except for some regions (Bulgaria, Poland, south of Spain) where the results are not significant. The sign of these changes are particularly robust in large parts of Romania, Ukraine, Germany, France and North of Spain. North of this line, floods are projected to decrease in most of Finland, NW Russia and North of Sweden, with the exception of southern Sweden and some coastal areas in Norway where floods may increase. The results concerning extreme droughts are less robust, especially for drought duration where the spread of the results among the members is quite high in some areas. Anyway, drought magnitude and duration may increase in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, the Balkans, south of the UK and Ireland. Despite some remarkable differences among the hydrological models’ structure and calibration, the results are quite similar from one hydrological model to another. Finally, an analysis of floods and droughts together shows that the impact of a +2°C global warming will be most extreme for France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Albania. These results are particularly robust in southern France and northern Spain.

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Anthropogenic carbon release rate unprecedented during the past 66 million years

Richard Zeebe, Andy Ridgwell & James Zachos

Nature Geoscience, April 2016, Pages 325–329

Abstract:
Carbon release rates from anthropogenic sources reached a record high of ~10 Pg C yr−1 in 2014. Geologic analogues from past transient climate changes could provide invaluable constraints on the response of the climate system to such perturbations, but only if the associated carbon release rates can be reliably reconstructed. The Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) is known at present to have the highest carbon release rates of the past 66 million years, but robust estimates of the initial rate and onset duration are hindered by uncertainties in age models. Here we introduce a new method to extract rates of change from a sedimentary record based on the relative timing of climate and carbon cycle changes, without the need for an age model. We apply this method to stable carbon and oxygen isotope records from the New Jersey shelf using time-series analysis and carbon cycle–climate modelling. We calculate that the initial carbon release during the onset of the PETM occurred over at least 4,000 years. This constrains the maximum sustained PETM carbon release rate to less than 1.1 Pg C yr−1. We conclude that, given currently available records, the present anthropogenic carbon release rate is unprecedented during the past 66 million years. We suggest that such a ‘no-analogue’ state represents a fundamental challenge in constraining future climate projections. Also, future ecosystem disruptions are likely to exceed the relatively limited extinctions observed at the PETM.

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Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise

Robert DeConto & David Pollard

Nature, 31 March 2016, Pages 591–597

Abstract:
Polar temperatures over the last several million years have, at times, been slightly warmer than today, yet global mean sea level has been 6–9 metres higher as recently as the Last Interglacial (130,000 to 115,000 years ago) and possibly higher during the Pliocene epoch (about three million years ago). In both cases the Antarctic ice sheet has been implicated as the primary contributor, hinting at its future vulnerability. Here we use a model coupling ice sheet and climate dynamics — including previously underappreciated processes linking atmospheric warming with hydrofracturing of buttressing ice shelves and structural collapse of marine-terminating ice cliffs — that is calibrated against Pliocene and Last Interglacial sea-level estimates and applied to future greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a metre of sea-level rise by 2100 and more than 15 metres by 2500, if emissions continue unabated. In this case atmospheric warming will soon become the dominant driver of ice loss, but prolonged ocean warming will delay its recovery for thousands of years.

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On the Potential for Abrupt Arctic Winter Sea Ice Loss

S. Bathiany et al.

Journal of Climate, April 2016, Pages 2703–2719

Abstract:
The authors examine the transition from a seasonally ice-covered Arctic to an Arctic Ocean that is sea ice free all year round under increasing atmospheric CO2 levels. It is shown that in comprehensive climate models, such loss of Arctic winter sea ice area is faster than the preceding loss of summer sea ice area for the same rate of warming. In two of the models, several million square kilometers of winter sea ice are lost within only one decade. It is shown that neither surface albedo nor cloud feedbacks can explain the rapid winter ice loss in the climate model MPI-ESM by suppressing both feedbacks in the model. The authors argue that the large sensitivity of winter sea ice area in the models is caused by the asymmetry between melting and freezing: an ice-free summer requires the complete melt of even the thickest sea ice, which is why the perennial ice coverage decreases only gradually as more and more of the thinner ice melts away. In winter, however, sea ice areal coverage remains high as long as sea ice still forms, and then drops to zero wherever the ocean warms sufficiently to no longer form ice during winter. The loss of basinwide Arctic winter sea ice area, however, is still gradual in most models since the threshold mechanism proposed here is reversible and not associated with the existence of multiple steady states. As this occurs in every model analyzed here and is independent of any specific parameterization, it is likely to be relevant in the real world.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Beginning at conception

Changes in Adolescents' Receipt of Sex Education, 2006–2013

Laura Lindberg, Isaac Maddow-Zimet & Heather Boonstra

Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Methods: Using nationally representative data from the 2006–2010 and 2011–2013 National Survey of Family Growth, we estimated changes over time in adolescents' receipt of sex education from formal sources and from parents and differentials in these trends by adolescents' gender, race/ethnicity, age, and place of residence.

Results: Between 2006–2010 and 2011–2013, there were significant declines in adolescent females' receipt of formal instruction about birth control (70% to 60%), saying no to sex (89% to 82%), sexually transmitted disease (94% to 90%), and HIV/AIDS (89% to 86%). There was a significant decline in males' receipt of instruction about birth control (61% to 55%). Declines were concentrated among adolescents living in nonmetropolitan areas. The proportion of adolescents talking with their parents about sex education topics did not change significantly. Twenty-one percent of females and 35% of males did not receive instruction about methods of birth control from either formal sources or a parent.

Conclusions: Declines in receipt of formal sex education and low rates of parental communication may leave adolescents without instruction, particularly in nonmetropolitan areas. More effort is needed to understand this decline and to explore adolescents' potential other sources of reproductive health information.

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Area-level mortality and morbidity predict ‘abortion proportion’ in England and Wales

Sandra Virgo & Rebecca Sear

Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Life history theory predicts that where mortality/morbidity is high, earlier reproduction will be favoured. A key component of reproductive decision-making in high income contexts is induced abortion. Accordingly, relationships between mortality/morbidity and ‘abortion proportion’ (proportion of conceptions ending in abortion) are explored at small-area (‘ward’) level in England and Wales. It is predicted that where mortality/morbidity is high, there will be a lower ‘abortion proportion’ in younger women (< 25 years), adjusting for education, unemployment, income, housing tenure and population density. Results show that this prediction is supported: wards with both shorter life expectancy and a higher proportion of people with a limiting long-standing illness have lower abortion proportions in under 25s. In older age bands, in contrast, elevated mortality and morbidity are mostly associated with a higher ‘abortion proportion’. Further, morbidity appears to have a larger effect than mortality on ‘abortion proportion’ in the under-25 age band, perhaps because a) morbidity is more salient than mortality in high-income contexts, and/or b) young women are influenced by health of potential female alloparents when scheduling fertility.

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Shared risk aversion in spontaneous and induced abortion

Ralph Catalano et al.

Human Reproduction, May 2016, Pages 1113-1119

What is known already: Much literature speculates that natural selection conserved risk aversion because the trait enhanced Darwinian fitness. Risk aversion, moreover, supposedly influences all decisions including those that individuals can and cannot report making. We argue that these circumstances, if real, would manifest in conscious and non-conscious decisions to invest in prospective offspring, and therefore affect incidence of induced and spontaneous abortion over time.

Study design, size, duration: Using data from Denmark, we test the hypothesis that monthly conception cohorts yielding unexpectedly many non-clinically indicated induced abortions also yield unexpectedly many spontaneous abortions. The 180 month test period (January 1995 through December 2009), yielded 1 351 800 gestations including 156 780 spontaneous as well as 233 280 induced abortions 9100 of which were clinically indicated.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: We use Box–Jenkins transfer functions to adjust the incidence of spontaneous and non-clinically indicated induced abortions for autocorrelation (including seasonality), cohort size, and fetal as well as gestational anomalies over the 180-month test period. We use cross-correlation to test our hypothesized association.

Main results and the role of chance: We find a positive association between spontaneous and non-clinically indicated induced abortions. This suggests, consistent with our theory, that mothers of conception cohorts that yielded more spontaneous abortions than expected opted more frequently than expected for non-clinically indicated induced abortion.

Wider implications of the findings: Our findings imply that abortion, intentional or ‘spontaneous,’ follows from a woman's estimate, made consciously or otherwise, of the costs and benefits of extending gestation given characteristics of the prospective offspring, likely environmental circumstances at birth, and maternal resources.

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Spontaneous Pregnancy Loss in Denmark Following Economic Downturns

Tim Bruckner, Laust Mortensen & Ralph Catalano

American Journal of Epidemiology, 15 April 2016, Pages 701-708

Abstract:
An estimated 11%–20% of clinically recognized pregnancies result in spontaneous abortion. The literature finds elevated risk of spontaneous abortion among women who report adverse financial life events. This work suggests that, at the population level, national economic decline — an ambient and plausibly unexpected stressor — will precede an increase in spontaneous abortion. We tested this hypothesis using high-quality information on pregnancy and spontaneous loss for all women in Denmark. We applied time-series methods to monthly counts of clinically detected spontaneous abortions (n = 157,449) and the unemployment rate in Denmark beginning in January 1995 and ending in December 2009. Our statistical methods controlled for temporal patterns in spontaneous abortion (e.g., seasonality, trend) and changes in the population of pregnancies at risk of loss. Unexpected increases in the unemployment rate preceded by 1 month a rise in the number of spontaneous abortions (β = 33.19 losses/month, 95% confidence interval: 8.71, 57.67). An attendant analysis that used consumption of durable household goods as an indicator of financial insecurity supported the inference from our main test. Changes over time in elective abortions and in the cohort composition of high-risk pregnancies did not account for results. It appears that in Denmark, ambient stressors as common as increasing unemployment may precede a population-level increase in spontaneous abortion.

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Women's Knowledge of and Support for Abortion Restrictions in Texas: Findings from a Statewide Representative Survey

Kari White et al.

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, forthcoming

Context: States have passed numerous laws restricting abortion, and Texas passed some of the most restrictive legislation between 2011 and 2013. Information about women's awareness of and support for the laws’ provisions could inform future debates regarding abortion legislation.

Methods: Between December 2014 and January 2015, some 779 women aged 18–49 participated in an online, statewide representative survey about recent abortion laws in Texas. Poisson regression analysis was used to assess correlates of support for a law that would make obtaining an abortion more difficult. Women's knowledge of specific abortion restrictions in Texas and reasons for supporting these laws were also assessed.

Results: Overall, 31% of respondents would support a law making it more difficult to obtain an abortion. Foreign-born Latinas were more likely than whites to support such a law (prevalence ratio, 1.5), and conservative Republicans were more likely than moderates and Independents to do so (2.3). Thirty-six percent of respondents were not very aware of recent Texas laws, and 19% had never heard of them. Among women with any awareness of the laws, 19% supported the requirements; 42% of these individuals said this was because such laws would make abortion safer.

Conclusions: Many Texas women of reproductive age are unaware of statewide abortion restrictions, and some support these requirements because of misperceptions about the safety of abortion. Advocates and policymakers should address these knowledge gaps in efforts to protect access to legal abortion.

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Physical and neurobehavioral determinants of reproductive onset and success

Felix Day et al.

Nature Genetics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The ages of puberty, first sexual intercourse and first birth signify the onset of reproductive ability, behavior and success, respectively. In a genome-wide association study of 125,667 UK Biobank participants, we identify 38 loci associated (P < 5 × 10−8) with age at first sexual intercourse. These findings were taken forward in 241,910 men and women from Iceland and 20,187 women from the Women's Genome Health Study. Several of the identified loci also exhibit associations (P < 5 × 10−8) with other reproductive and behavioral traits, including age at first birth (variants in or near ESR1 and RBM6–SEMA3F), number of children (CADM2 and ESR1), irritable temperament (MSRA) and risk-taking propensity (CADM2). Mendelian randomization analyses infer causal influences of earlier puberty timing on earlier first sexual intercourse, earlier first birth and lower educational attainment. In turn, likely causal consequences of earlier first sexual intercourse include reproductive, educational, psychiatric and cardiometabolic outcomes.

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Impact of Clinic Closures on Women Obtaining Abortion Services After Implementation of a Restrictive Law in Texas

Caitlin Gerdts et al.

American Journal of Public Health, May 2016, Pages 857-864

Objectives: To evaluate the additional burdens experienced by Texas abortion patients whose nearest in-state clinic was one of more than half of facilities providing abortion that had closed after the introduction of House Bill 2 in 2013.

Methods: In mid-2014, we surveyed Texas-resident women seeking abortions in 10 Texas facilities (n = 398), including both Planned Parenthood–affiliated clinics and independent providers that performed more than 1500 abortions in 2013 and provided procedures up to a gestational age of at least 14 weeks from last menstrual period. We compared indicators of burden for women whose nearest clinic in 2013 closed and those whose nearest clinic remained open.

Results: For women whose nearest clinic closed (38%), the mean one-way distance traveled was 85 miles, compared with 22 miles for women whose nearest clinic remained open (P ≤ .001). After adjustment, more women whose nearest clinic closed traveled more than 50 miles (44% vs 10%), had out-of-pocket expenses greater than $100 (32% vs 20%), had a frustrated demand for medication abortion (37% vs 22%), and reported that it was somewhat or very hard to get to the clinic (36% vs 18%; P < .05).

Conclusions: Clinic closures after House Bill 2 resulted in significant burdens for women able to obtain care.

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What do men want? Re-examining whether men benefit from higher fertility than is optimal for women

Cristina Moya, Kristin Snopkowski & Rebecca Sear

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 April 2016

Abstract:
Several empirical observations suggest that when women have more autonomy over their reproductive decisions, fertility is lower. Some evolutionary theorists have interpreted this as evidence for sexual conflicts of interest, arguing that higher fertility is more adaptive for men than women. We suggest the assumptions underlying these arguments are problematic: assuming that women suffer higher costs of reproduction than men neglects the (different) costs of reproduction for men; the assumption that men can repartner is often false. We use simple models to illustrate that (i) men or women can prefer longer interbirth intervals (IBIs), (ii) if men can only partner with wives sequentially they may favour shorter IBIs than women, but such a strategy would only be optimal for a few men who can repartner. This suggests that an evolved universal male preference for higher fertility than women prefer is implausible and is unlikely to fully account for the empirical data. This further implies that if women have more reproductive autonomy, populations should grow, not decline. More precise theoretical explanations with clearly stated assumptions, and data that better address both ultimate fitness consequences and proximate psychological motivations, are needed to understand under which conditions sexual conflict over reproductive timing should arise.

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Association Between High Ambient Temperature and Risk of Stillbirth in California

Rupa Basu, Varada Sarovar & Brian Malig

American Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent studies have linked elevated apparent temperatures with adverse birth outcomes, such as preterm delivery, but other birth outcomes have not been well studied. We examined 8,510 fetal deaths (≥20 weeks’ gestation) to estimate their association with mean apparent temperature, a combination of temperature and humidity, during the warm season in California (May–October) from 1999 to 2009. Mothers whose residential zip codes were within 10 km of a meteorological monitor were included. Meteorological data were provided by the California Irrigation Management Information System, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Climatic Data Center, while the California Department of Public Health provided stillbirth data. Using a time-stratified case-crossover study design, we found a 10.4% change (95% confidence interval: 4.4, 16.8) in risk of stillbirth for every 10°F (5.6°C) increase in apparent temperature (cumulative average of lags 2–6 days). Risk varied by maternal race/ethnicity and was greater for younger mothers, less educated mothers, and male fetuses. The highest risks were observed during gestational weeks 20–25 and 31–33. No associations were found during the cold season (November–April), and the observed associations were independent of air pollutants. This study adds to the growing body of literature identifying pregnant women and their fetuses as subgroups vulnerable to heat exposure.

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Reproductive history and post-reproductive mortality: A sibling comparison analysis using Swedish register data

Kieron Barclay et al.

Social Science & Medicine, April 2016, Pages 82–92

Abstract:
A growing body of evidence suggests that reproductive history influences post-reproductive mortality. A potential explanation for this association is confounding by socioeconomic status in the family of origin, as socioeconomic status is related to both fertility behaviours and to long-term health. We examine the relationship between age at first birth, completed parity, and post-reproductive mortality and address the potential confounding role of family of origin. We use Swedish population register data for men and women born 1932-1960, and examine both all-cause and cause-specific mortality. The contributions of our study are the use of a sibling comparison design that minimizes residual confounding from shared family background characteristics and assessment of cause-specific mortality that can shed light on the mechanisms linking reproductive history to mortality. Our results were entirely consistent with previous research on this topic, with teenage first time parents having higher mortality, and the relationship between parity and mortality following a U-shaped pattern where childless men and women and those with five or more children had the highest mortality. These results indicate that selection into specific fertility behaviours based upon socioeconomic status and experiences within the family of origin does not explain the relationship between reproductive history and post-reproductive mortality. Additional analyses where we adjust for other lifecourse factors such as educational attainment, attained socioeconomic status, and post-reproductive marital history do not change the results. Our results add an important new level of robustness to the findings on reproductive history and mortality by showing that the association is robust to confounding by factors shared by siblings. However it is still uncertain whether reproductive history causally influences health, or whether other confounding factors such as childhood health or risk-taking propensity could explain the association.

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Status competition, inequality, and fertility: Implications for the demographic transition

Mary Shenk, Hillard Kaplan & Paul Hooper

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 19 April 2016

Abstract:
The role that social status plays in small-scale societies suggests that status may be important for understanding the evolution of human fertility decisions, and for understanding how such decisions play out in modern contexts. This paper explores whether modelling competition for status — in the sense of relative rank within a society — can help shed light on fertility decline and the demographic transition. We develop a model of how levels of inequality and status competition affect optimal investment by parents in the embodied capital (health, strength, and skills) and social status of offspring, focusing on feedbacks between individual decisions and socio-ecological conditions. We find that conditions similar to those in demographic transition societies yield increased investment in both embodied capital and social status, generating substantial decreases in fertility, particularly under conditions of high inequality and intense status competition. We suggest that a complete explanation for both fertility variation in small-scale societies and modern fertility decline will take into account the effects of status competition and inequality.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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