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Friday, October 31, 2014

Party foul

Fear and Loathing Across Party Lines: New Evidence on Group Polarization

Shanto Iyengar & Sean Westwood
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
When defined in terms of social identity and affect toward co-partisans and opposing partisans, the polarization of the American electorate has dramatically increased. We document the scope and consequences of affective polarization of partisans using implicit, explicit and behavioral indicators. Our evidence demonstrates that hostile feelings for the opposing party are ingrained or automatic in voters' minds, and that affective polarization based on party is just as strong as polarization based on race. We further show that party cues exert powerful effects on non-political judgments and behaviors. Partisans discriminate against opposing partisans, and do so to a degree that exceeds discrimination based on race. We note that the willingness of partisans to display open animus for opposing partisans can be attributed to the absence of norms governing the expression of negative sentiment and that increased partisan affect provides an incentive for elites to engage in confrontation rather than cooperation.

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Does Politics Influence Hiring? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

Karen Gift & Thomas Gift
Political Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
Do resumes with political “signals” make job applicants more or less likely to get hired? To test our theory that employers are more likely to hire like-minded partisans (and less likely to hire those of opposing partisan bents), we conduct a randomized experiment, sending out 1,200 politically branded resumes in response to help-wanted ads in two U.S. counties — one highly conservative and the other, highly liberal. In our pooled sample, we find that job seekers with minority partisan affiliations are statistically less likely to obtain a callback than candidates without any partisan affiliation. Meanwhile, applicants sharing the majority partisan affiliation are not significantly more likely to receive a callback than non-partisan candidates. These results suggest that individuals may sometimes place themselves at a disadvantage by including partisan cues on their resumes.

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Motive attribution asymmetry for love vs. hate drives intractable conflict

Adam Waytz, Liane Young & Jeremy Ginges
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Five studies across cultures involving 661 American Democrats and Republicans, 995 Israelis, and 1,266 Palestinians provide previously unidentified evidence of a fundamental bias, what we term the “motive attribution asymmetry,” driving seemingly intractable human conflict. These studies show that in political and ethnoreligious intergroup conflict, adversaries tend to attribute their own group’s aggression to ingroup love more than outgroup hate and to attribute their outgroup’s aggression to outgroup hate more than ingroup love. Study 1 demonstrates that American Democrats and Republicans attribute their own party’s involvement in conflict to ingroup love more than outgroup hate but attribute the opposing party’s involvement to outgroup hate more than ingroup love. Studies 2 and 3 demonstrate this biased attributional pattern for Israelis and Palestinians evaluating their own group and the opposing group’s involvement in the current regional conflict. Study 4 demonstrates in an Israeli population that this bias increases beliefs and intentions associated with conflict intractability toward Palestinians. Finally, study 5 demonstrates, in the context of American political conflict, that offering Democrats and Republicans financial incentives for accuracy in evaluating the opposing party can mitigate this bias and its consequences. Although people find it difficult to explain their adversaries’ actions in terms of love and affiliation, we suggest that recognizing this attributional bias and how to reduce it can contribute to reducing human conflict on a global scale.

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Overcoming the Barrier of Narrative Adherence in Conflicts Through Awareness of the Psychological Bias of Naïve Realism

Meytal Nasie et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, November 2014, Pages 1543-1556

Abstract:
One significant socio-psychological barrier for peaceful resolution of conflicts is each party’s adherence to its own collective narrative. We hypothesized that raising awareness to the psychological bias of naïve realism and its identification in oneself would provide a path to overcoming this barrier, thus increasing openness to the adversary’s narrative. We conducted three experimental studies in the context of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Studies 1 and 2, conducted among Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Israelis, respectively, revealed that participants with hawkish political ideology reported greater openness to the adversary’s narrative when they were made aware of naïve realism bias. Study 3 revealed that hawkish participants at the baseline adhered to the ingroup narrative and resisted the adversary’s narrative more than dovish participants. They were also more able to identify the bias in themselves upon learning about it. This identification may explain why the manipulation led to bias correction only among hawkish participants.

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The tea party and the 2012 presidential election

Leigh Bradberry & Gary Jacobson
Electoral Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using both the 2012 American National Election Study and the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, we examine the Tea Party movement’s role in crystallizing attitudes and shaping voting behavior in the 2012 elections. The data show that, compared to other Republicans, Tea Party sympathizers were notably more hostile to Obama, more receptive to bogus notions about his origins and religion, and more conservative across a broad range of issues and issue dimensions — including those related to racial and ethnic minorities. Voters’ opinions of the Tea Party were linked to their presidential vote choice directly as well as through their association with the core values, opinions, and attitudes that underlie opinions of the Tea Party. Tea Party sympathizers form the Republican coalition’s largest, most loyal, and most active component, so their opinions and beliefs help to explain why national politics in the United States is currently stalemated on so many major issues.

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Do Extremists Encourage Extremism? Election Results and the Ideology of the Candidate Pool in U.S. House Races

Andrew Hall
Harvard Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
The power of voters to select representatives is limited by the pool of candidates who run for office. In recent times, many observers of American politics have worried that those who run for office hold extreme views, at the same time as primary voters have exhibited a marked preference for more extreme candidates. Despite these trends, we have little understanding of the factors that determine the ideological composition of the candidate pool, or of the broader consequences stemming from primary voters’ choice to nominate more extreme candidates. In this paper, I link these two phenomena together. Using data on the ideological positioning of U.S. House primary and general-election candidates, 1980–2010, I show that the decision of primary voters to nominate an extremist candidate in one election causes the pool of candidates that party fields in future elections to become more extreme. I show that this effect is the result of at least two notable mechanisms: first, extremist nominations are “self-perpetuating”; and second, incumbents “scare off” moderate challengers. The results show how the decisions of primary and general-election voters constrain the future pool of candidates who run for office and are relevant for understanding the advantage of incumbents as well as the high levels of polarization in U.S. legislatures.

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Has the Tea Party Era Radicalized the Republican Party? Evidence from Text Analysis of the 2008 and 2012 Republican Primary Debates

Juraj Medzihorsky, Levente Littvay & Erin Jenne
PS: Political Science & Politics, October 2014, Pages 806-812

Abstract:
Much ink has been spilled to describe the emergence and likely influence of the Tea Party on the American political landscape. Pundits and journalists declared that the emergence of the Tea Party movement pushed the Republican Party to a more extreme ideological position, which is generally anti-Washington. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed the ideological positions taken by candidates in the 2008 and 2012 pre-Iowa caucus Republican presidential-primary debates. To establish the positions, we used the debate transcripts and a text-analytic technique that placed the candidates on a single dimension. Findings show that, overall, the 2012 candidates moved closer to an anti-Washington ideology — associated with the Tea Party movement — and away from the more traditional social conservative Republican ideology, which was more salient in the 2008 debates. Both Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, the two candidates who ran in both elections, shifted significantly in the ideological direction associated with the Tea Party.

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Solution aversion: On the relation between ideology and motivated disbelief

Troy Campbell & Aaron Kay
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, November 2014, Pages 809-824

Abstract:
There is often a curious distinction between what the scientific community and the general population believe to be true of dire scientific issues, and this skepticism tends to vary markedly across groups. For instance, in the case of climate change, Republicans (conservatives) are especially skeptical of the relevant science, particularly when they are compared with Democrats (liberals). What causes such radical group differences? We suggest, as have previous accounts, that this phenomenon is often motivated. However, the source of this motivation is not necessarily an aversion to the problem, per se, but an aversion to the solutions associated with the problem. This difference in underlying process holds important implications for understanding, predicting, and influencing motivated skepticism. In 4 studies, we tested this solution aversion explanation for why people are often so divided over evidence and why this divide often occurs so saliently across political party lines. Studies 1, 2, and 3 — using correlational and experimental methodologies — demonstrated that Republicans’ increased skepticism toward environmental sciences may be partly attributable to a conflict between specific ideological values and the most popularly discussed environmental solutions. Study 4 found that, in a different domain (crime), those holding a more liberal ideology (support for gun control) also show skepticism motivated by solution aversion.

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Inequality, Participation, and Polarization

Razvan Vlaicu
Northwestern University Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
The strong co-movement of economic inequality and partisan polarization in the U.S. is typically explained as the result of increased citizen polarization into economic classes or through the presence of a wealth bias in the political process. This paper formalizes an alternative, class-less, theory of political polarization under income inequality where citizen ideology is fixed and orthogonal to income. Instead income affects political competition through changing patterns of political participation, i.e., voting vs. giving. Income inequality depresses turnout and bolsters giving, reducing the electoral penalty for radicalization and causing candidates' electoral priorities to shift from seeking votes to seeking partisan policy goals. Party competition for candidates to form a majority policy coalition can exacerbate candidate polarization by increasing intra-party ideological homogeneity and the prevalence of safe seats. The model captures polarization data features beyond between-party mean differences.

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How The Public Funding Of Elections Increases Candidate Polarization

Andrew Hall
Harvard Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
I show that the public funding of elections produces a large decrease in the financial and electoral advantage of incumbents. Despite these effects on electoral competition, I demonstrate that public funding produces more polarization and candidate divergence -- not less. Finally, I establish that this effect is at least in part due to the fact that public funding disproportionately affects the contribution behavior of access-oriented interest groups, groups who, I show, systematically support moderate incumbents. Access-oriented interest groups therefore help generate the incumbency advantage and mitigate polarization by supporting moderate legislators.

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Information and Extremism in Elections

Raphael Boleslavsky & Christopher Cotton
American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We model an election in which parties nominate candidates with observable policy preferences prior to a campaign that produces information about candidate quality, a characteristic independent of policy. Informative campaigns lead to greater differentiation in expected candidate quality, which undermines policy competition. In equilibrium, as campaigns become more informative, candidates become more extreme. We identify conditions under which the costs associated with extremism dominate the benefits of campaign information. Informative political campaigns increase political extremism and can decrease voter welfare. Our results have implications for media coverage, the number of debates, and campaign finance reform.

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On Cooperation in Open Communities

Özgür Gürerk, Bernd Irlenbusch & Bettina Rockenbach
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Economic interactions often take place in open communities, where agents are free to leave in order to join a more preferred community. Tiebout (1956) conjectured that “voting with feet” might generate considerable efficiency gains, since individuals with different preferences sort themselves into those communities that suit them most. We provide new empirical insights into Tiebout’s intuition by showing that self-selection in open heterogeneous communities can significantly foster communities’ success. Voting with feet improves cooperation by facilitating the right initial match between individuals and institutions and by establishing a cooperative environment that is attractive for others to join.

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Why Does the Apple Fall Far from the Tree? How Early Political Socialization Prompts Parent-Child Dissimilarity

Elias Dinas
British Journal of Political Science, October 2014, Pages 827-852

Abstract:
Children are more likely to adopt their family's political views when politics is important to their parents, and the children of politically engaged parents tend to become politically engaged adults. When these transmission dynamics are considered together, an important hypothesis follows: the children who are most likely to initially acquire the political views of their parents are also most likely to later abandon them as a result of their own engagement with the political world. Data from the Political Socialisation Panel Study provide support for this hypothesis, illuminate its observational implications and shed light on the mechanisms, pointing to the role of new social contexts, political issues and salient political events. Replications using different data from the US and the UK confirm that this dynamic is generalizable to different cohorts and political periods.

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The interactive effects of mortality salience and political orientation on moral judgments

Jonathan Bassett et al.
British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In two studies, the authors examined how threat induced by reminders of mortality would moderate the effect of political orientation on moral judgments. In Study 1, university students (n = 113) categorized their political orientation, were randomly assigned to complete a fear of death or public speaking scale, and then completed a moral foundations questionnaire. In Study 2, university students (n = 123) rated their political orientations, were randomly assigned to write about their own death or dental pain, and then completed a moral foundations questionnaire. In both studies, mortality salience intensified the moral differences between liberals and conservatives. These findings were primarily the result of the reactions of liberals, who responded to mortality salience with increased ratings of the fairness/cheating virtue in Study 1 and the care/harm virtue in Study 2.

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Shifting Liberal and Conservative Attitudes Using Moral Foundations Theory

Martin Day et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
People’s social and political opinions are grounded in their moral concerns about right and wrong. We examine whether five moral foundations — harm, fairness, ingroup, authority, and purity — can influence political attitudes of liberals and conservatives across a variety of issues. Framing issues using moral foundations may change political attitudes in at least two possible ways: (a) Entrenching: Relevant moral foundations will strengthen existing political attitudes when framing pro-attitudinal issues (e.g., conservatives exposed to a free-market economic stance) and (b) Persuasion: Mere presence of relevant moral foundations may also alter political attitudes in counter-attitudinal directions (e.g., conservatives exposed to an economic regulation stance). Studies 1 and 2 support the entrenching hypothesis. Relevant moral foundation-based frames bolstered political attitudes for conservatives (Study 1) and liberals (Study 2). Only Study 2 partially supports the persuasion hypothesis. Conservative-relevant moral frames of liberal issues increased conservatives’ liberal attitudes.

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Modeling the electoral dynamics of party polarization in two-party legislatures

Samuel Merrill, Bernard Grofman & Thomas Brunell
Journal of Theoretical Politics, October 2014, Pages 548-572

Abstract:
While there are many formal models that generate predictions about polarization, only a handful address the question of how, with no change in electoral rules, levels of polarization can dramatically vary over time, as they have in the US House during 150 years of two-party competition. We propose a model that emphasizes national party constraints on district candidates’ ability to locate at positions far from the national party stance. The model predicts a close relation between tight tethers maintained by the national parties and congressional polarization, suggests implications for political competition, and generates the empirically accurate prediction that partisan polarization and within-party differentiation are negatively correlated. When the tethers of the two parties are not equally strong, the model suggests modifications to the conditional party governance approach and helps explain ideological shift/drift affecting both parties, with the party with the tighter tether moving the other party toward its ideological wake.

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Revisiting The Dark Side of Political Deliberation: The Effects of Media and Political Discussion on Political Interest

Mariano Torcal & Gerardo Maldonado
Public Opinion Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
Citizens’ deliberation and interest in politics are crucial to democracy and have always been understood as positively related. We argue here that political discussion, one of the most common mechanisms of deliberation, might lead to citizens’ political disengagement or lack of interest. Using the Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP), an innovative data set of postelection national surveys, we attempt to ascertain and shed light on these apparently contradictory effects on citizen engagement. The results indicate that political discussions, specifically those involving disagreements, can produce a lower level of interest when citizens are less informed, are strongly partisan, or hold strong social ties with those they disagree with.

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The Fate of Obamacare: Racial Resentment, Ethnocentrism and Attitudes about Healthcare Reform

Angie Maxwell & Todd Shields
Race and Social Problems, December 2014, Pages 293-304

Abstract:
Health care has been a contentious issue in American politics for decades, and scholars are beginning to understand the reasons behind public support for, and opposition to, healthcare reform. Using national survey data, we measure the impact of various racial attitudes, including Racial Resentment and Ethnocentrism, on white support for healthcare reform. We measure participants’ attitudes across a range of important dimensions of healthcare reform and examine a randomized experiment with a control group that frames legislation as “recent” healthcare reform and a treatment condition that frames legislation as “President Obama’s” healthcare reform. The findings demonstrate that racial attitudes and Ethnocentrism continue to play a role in both support and opposition to healthcare reform.

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Forging Bonds and Burning Bridges: Polarization and Incivility in Blog Discussions About Occupy Wall Street

Elizabeth Suhay et al.
American Politics Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Putnam warned over a decade ago that the urge to associate with similar others online may lead to “cyberbalkanization,” fostering bonding capital at the expense of bridging capital. This study examines balkanization with respect to political blogs, investigating to what extent opinions in posts and comment sections on blogs associated with the left and right are ideologically polarized. We also investigate whether extreme opinions tend to co-occur with uncivil discourse aimed at political opponents. Finally, this study compares political blogs with a newer information source that bridges the gap between old and new media — newspaper blogs — asking whether polarization and incivility are reduced on that platform. A content analysis was conducted of blog discussions about a salient political event—Occupy Wall Street. In both posts and comments, political blogs were highly polarized and opinion extremity and incivility were correlated. However, content on newspaper blogs was largely unpolarized and civil.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Marriageable

Marrying Ain't Hard When You Got A Union Card? Labor Union Membership and First Marriage

Daniel Schneider & Adam Reich
Social Problems, November 2014, Pages 625-643

Abstract:
Over the past five decades, marriage has changed dramatically, as young people began marrying later or never getting married at all. Scholars have shown how this decline is less a result of changing cultural definitions of marriage, and more a result of men's changing access to social and economic prerequisites for marriage. Specifically, men's current economic standing and men's future economic security have been shown to affect their marriageability. Traditionally, labor unions provided economic standing and security to male workers. Yet during the same period that marriage has declined among young people, membership in labor unions has declined precipitously, particularly for men. In this article, we examine the relationship between union membership and first marriage and discuss the possible mechanisms by which union membership might lead to first marriage. We draw on longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-79 to estimate discrete time event-history models of first marriage entry and find that, controlling for many factors, union membership is positively and significantly associated with marriage. We show then that this relationship is largely explained by the increased income, regularity and stability of employment, and fringe benefits that come with union membership.

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Sperm Competition in Humans: Mate Guarding Behavior Negatively Correlates with Ejaculate Quality

Samantha Leivers, Gillian Rhodes & Leigh Simmons
PLoS ONE, September 2014

Abstract:
In species where females mate with multiple males, the sperm from these males must compete to fertilise available ova. Sexual selection from sperm competition is expected to favor opposing adaptations in males that function either in the avoidance of sperm competition (by guarding females from rival males) or in the engagement in sperm competition (by increased expenditure on the ejaculate). The extent to which males may adjust the relative use of these opposing tactics has been relatively neglected. Where males can successfully avoid sperm competition from rivals, one might expect a decrease in their expenditure on tactics for the engagement in sperm competition and vice versa. In this study, we examine the relationship between mate guarding and ejaculate quality using humans as an empirical model. We found that men who performed fewer mate guarding behaviors produced higher quality ejaculates, having a greater concentration of sperm, a higher percentage of motile sperm and sperm that swam faster and less erratically. These effects were found independent of lifestyle factors or factors related to male quality. Our findings suggest that male expenditure on mate guarding and on the ejaculate may represent alternative routes to paternity assurance in humans.

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'A Diamond is Forever' and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration

Andrew Francis & Hugo Mialon
Emory University Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
In this paper, we evaluate the association between wedding spending and marriage duration using data from a survey of over 3,000 ever-married persons in the United States. Controlling for a number of demographic and relationship characteristics, we find evidence that marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony.

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Debt, Cohabitation, and Marriage in Young Adulthood

Fenaba Addo
Demography, October 2014, Pages 1677-1701

Abstract:
Despite growing evidence that debt influences pivotal life events in early and young adulthood, the role of debt in the familial lives of young adults has received relatively little attention. Using data from the NLSY 1997 cohort (N = 6,749) and a discrete-time competing risks hazard model framework, I test whether the transition to first union is influenced by a young adult's credit card and education loan debt above and beyond traditional educational and labor market characteristics. I find that credit card debt is positively associated with cohabitation for men and women, and that women with education loan debt are more likely than women without such debt to delay marriage and transition into cohabitation. Single life may be difficult to afford, but marital life is unaffordable as well. Cohabitation presents an alternative to single life, but not necessarily a marital substitute for these young adults.

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The Long Reach of One's Spouse: Spouses' Personality Influences Occupational Success

Brittany Solomon & Joshua Jackson
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
You marry your spouse "for better, for worse" and "for richer, for poorer," but does your choice of partner make you richer or poorer? It is unknown whether people's dispositional characteristics can seep into their spouses' workplace. Using a representative, longitudinal sample of married individuals (N = 4,544), we examined whether Big Five personality traits of participants' spouses related to three measures of participants' occupational success: job satisfaction, income, and likelihood of being promoted. For both male and female participants, partner conscientiousness predicted future job satisfaction, income, and likelihood of promotion, even after accounting for participants' conscientiousness. These associations occurred because more conscientious partners perform more household tasks, exhibit more pragmatic behaviors that their spouses are likely to emulate, and promote a more satisfying home life, enabling their spouses to focus more on work. These results demonstrate that the dispositional characteristics of the person one marries influence important aspects of one's professional life.

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Stalking and Psychosocial Distress Following the Termination of an Abusive Dating Relationship: A Prospective Analysis

Katie Edwards & Christine Gidycz
Violence Against Women, November 2014, Pages 1383-1397

Abstract:
The purpose of the current study was to utilize a prospective methodology to better understand the extent to which women report stalking behaviors perpetrated by their abusive ex-partners and how these stalking experiences affect women's psychological adjustment. Participants included 56 college women who completed measures of partner abuse and psychological adjustment prior to and after terminating an abusive dating relationship. A little over half of the women (51.8%) reported some type of stalking victimization following the termination of the abusive relationship. After controlling for baseline levels of psychological distress and partner abuse variables, experiences of post-relationship stalking victimization predicted greater levels of posttraumatic stress symptomatology and interpersonal sensitivity, whereas post-relationship stalking victimization was unrelated to depression and personal empowerment.

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Thin slices of infidelity: Determining whether observers can pick out cheaters from a video clip interaction and what tips them off

Nathaniel Lambert, Seth Mulder & Frank Fincham
Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
The viability of using brief observations of behavior (thin slicing) to identify infidelity in romantic relationships was examined. Two studies supported the hypothesis that observers can accuratelsy identify people who are cheating on their romantic dating partner based on thin slices of observed behavior. In Study 1, raters were able to accurately identify people who were cheating on their romantic dating partner after viewing a short 3- to 4-min video of the couple interacting. Study 2 replicated this finding and identified possible variables that may mediate the relation between coder's ratings and participants' actual reported infidelity. Commitment and trustworthiness were found to be mediators of this relation. These results are discussed in terms of application and future research.

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Concordant and discordant alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use as predictors of marital dissolution

Kenneth Leonard, Philip Smith & Gregory Homish
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, September 2014, Pages 780-789

Abstract:
This study examined concordant and discrepant alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use among couples to determine whether they predicted marital separation or divorce over 9 years. The study recruited 634 couples as they applied for their marriage licenses; we assessed them at that time and reassessed them with mailed questionnaires at their first, second, fourth, seventh, and ninth wedding anniversaries. Approximately 60% of the men and women were European American, and approximately 33% were African American. The frequency of drinking to intoxication and binge drinking (more than 5 drinks in an occasion) was assessed, as was the use of cigarettes and marijuana. At each assessment, each member of the couple was asked about the occurrence of marital separations and divorce. Bivariate analyses indicated that tobacco and marijuana use, whether discrepant or concordant, were associated with marital disruptions. However, discrepant heavy drinking was associated with disruptions, but concordant heavy drinking was not. Concordant and discordant marijuana use were not associated with divorce when analyses controlled for alcohol and tobacco use. Concordant and discordant tobacco use was not associated with divorce when analyses controlled for sociodemographic and personality factors. However, discrepant alcohol use was related to divorce after controlling for the other substances in 1 analysis and after controlling for the sociodemographic factors in a separate analysis. Tobacco and marijuana use were related to divorce through their associations with other variables. However, results suggest that discrepant alcohol use may lead to marital disruptions and should be addressed with couples seeking marital treatment.

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Do women perform fellatio as a mate retention behavior?

Yael Sela et al.
Personality and Individual Differences, January 2015, Pages 61-66

Abstract:
Men who report performing more mate retention behaviors, in general, and more benefit-provisioning mate retention behaviors, in particular, also report greater interest in, and spend more time, performing oral sex on their female partner. We extended these findings to a female sample to investigate whether women's oral sex behaviors are related to their mate retention behaviors. We secured self-report data from 410 women residing in the United States or in Germany in a committed, sexual, heterosexual relationship. The results indicate that women who report performing more benefit-provisioning mate retention behaviors also report greater interest in, and spend more time, performing oral sex on their partner. Further, there are no sex differences in the magnitudes or directions of these relationships. The results suggest that both men and women are more interested in, and spend more time, performing oral sex on their partner as part of a benefit-provisioning strategy to increase their partner's relationship satisfaction. We address limitations of this research, and discuss explanations for the results.

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Holding on to What Might Have Been May Loosen (or Tighten) the Ties that Bind Us: A Counterfactual Potency Analysis of Previous Dating Alternatives

John Petrocelli et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, January 2015, Pages 50-59

Abstract:
Existing research shows that people who have good current alternatives to their romantic partner are less committed to the relationship. The present research indicates that relationship committment also depends on perceptions of high quality forgone alternatives. The current research investigates the role of counterfactual potency (i.e., perceived likelihood of a mentally simulated alternative to reality) concerning potential dating partners from the past. Data from three studies revealed that as the perceived potency of a past romantic alternative increased, regret associated with forgone dating alternatives increased and commitment to the current partner decreased. Regret associated with forgone alternatives mediated the relationship between counterfactual potency and commitment. However, the link between counterfactual potency and commitment was further moderated by investment size; among the highly invested, as the perceived potency of a past romantic alternative increased, commitment to the current partner increased. Results are discussed in light of the investment model of relationship commitment.

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Knowing Who You Are and Adding to It: Reduced Self-Concept Clarity Predicts Reduced Self-Expansion

Lydia Emery, Courtney Walsh & Erica Slotter
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
People are generally motivated to increase the diversity of their self-concepts, within their relationships and outside of them. Self-expansion enhances both individual and relationship well-being; however, almost no research has investigated what circumstances attenuate people's desire for self-expansion. The present research addressed this question by testing the central hypothesis that experiencing lower self-concept clarity would predict less interest in self-expansion. Across three studies, the present research demonstrated that individuals primed with low self-concept clarity expressed less interest in self-expansion outside of romantic relationships (Studies 1-2) and were less likely to actually self-expand by incorporating attributes from a potential romantic partner into the self (Study 3). Despite the benefits of self-expansion, certain situations may reduce people's desire to add content to the self.

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Can You Tell That I'm in a Relationship? Attachment and Relationship Visibility on Facebook

Lydia Emery et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, November 2014, Pages 1466-1479

Abstract:
People often attempt to shape others' perceptions of them, but the role of romantic relationships in this process is unknown. The present set of studies investigates relationship visibility, the centrality of relationships in the self-images that people convey to others. We propose that attachment underlies relationship visibility and test this hypothesis across three studies in the context of Facebook. Avoidant individuals showed low desire for relationship visibility, whereas anxious individuals reported high desired visibility (Studies 1 and 2); however, similar motives drove both groups' actual relationship visibility (Study 1). Moreover, both avoidant individuals and their partners were less likely to make their relationships visible (Studies 1 and 3). On a daily basis, when people felt more insecure about their partner's feelings, they tended to make their relationships visible (Study 3). These studies highlight the role of relationships in how people portray themselves to others.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Force protection

US Covert Operations toward Iran, February–November 1979: Was the CIA Trying to Overthrow the Islamic Regime?

Mark Gasiorowski
Middle Eastern Studies, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines US covert operations toward Iran from February until November 1979. It focuses especially on whether the CIA was trying to undermine or overthrow Iran's nascent Islamic regime, as many Iranians believed. The article details the extensive covert contacts the CIA and other US personnel established in this period with Iranian officials and various Iranian opposition factions. Its main conclusion is that US officials established these contacts for the purpose of gathering intelligence about the rapidly changing situation in Iran, rather than to undermine the Islamic regime. Indeed, US personnel never encouraged these Iranian contacts to plot against the regime and often explicitly discouraged them from doing so.

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The Clash of Brothers

Akos Lada
Harvard Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
How does shared identity affect interstate war-proneness and hostility? This paper argues that shared identity in the form of cultural similarity is a source of wars, but only in the presence of differences in domestic political institutions. When shared identity is based on visible cultural markers, identity ties facilitate the spread of democratization. Elites in repressive regimes are threatened by a culturally-similar country where citizens are empowered. Thus a dictator uses force against the culturally-similar democracy to ensure that his or her citizens see their empowered brothers as an enemy rather than a model. Using a new dataset on cultural similarity, coupled with the Correlates of War Militarized Interstate Dispute (1816-2008) dataset, I show that the most war-prone and the most hostile country pairs share culture, but differ in their political institutions. The cultural similarity variables are based on race, religion, and civilization, all of which are positively correlated with questions about political culture in the World Values Survey. Through the analysis of articles written by the North Korean Central News Agency, I also show that Pyongyang began to describe life in South Korea in more negative terms after South Korea democratized in 1987.

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Dead Wrong?: Battle Deaths, Military Medicine, and Exaggerated Reports of War's Demise

Tanisha Fazal
International Security, Summer 2014, Pages 95-125

Abstract:
Is war in decline? Recent scholarship suggests that it is. The empirical basis for this argument is a decline in battle deaths over the past several centuries, a standard metric for counting wars and armed conflicts. Dramatic improvements in medical care in conflict zones — in preventive medicine, battlefield medicine, evacuation, and protective equipment — have raised the likelihood of surviving battle wounds today compared with past eras. Thus the fact that war has become less fatal does not necessarily mean that it has become less frequent. Original data on wounded-to-killed ratios, supplemented by medical research and interviews with physicians from the military and nongovernmental communities, is used to advance this claim. The results show that the decline in war is likely not as dramatic as some scholars have argued. These findings question the foundation of existing datasets on war and armed conflict. They also highlight the growing need for policy focused on the battle wounded.

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The Case of William Yale: Cairo’s Syrians and the Arab Origins of American Influence in the Post-Ottoman Middle East, 1917–19

Max Reibman
International Journal of Middle East Studies, November 2014, Pages 681-702

Abstract:
This article explores the American role in the Syrian political scene in Cairo toward the end of World War I and in its immediate aftermath. It challenges the absence of the United States and of American actors as primary players in much of the historical writing on the Middle East in this period. It illuminates a neglected episode of regional American diplomacy, argues that the United States was not relegated to the periphery in local debates surrounding the dismemberment of Ottoman Syria, and emphasizes the broader uncertainties that characterized the competition for Mandate territories in the Middle East prior to 1920. In doing so, it takes a close look at the long-forgotten reports of William Yale, the U.S. State Department's “Special Agent” in Cairo in late 1917, and situates them within evolving trends in Syrian-Arab politics. Yale, who surfaced in Egypt after serving with Standard Oil in Palestine, was the key Arabic-speaking American “on the spot” and proved to be an astute if imperfect observer of the diversity of Syrian national sentiment. A survey of his reports allows for a new perspective on Cairo's Syrians and their pragmatic and ideological turn toward the United States as World War I unfolded. Alienated from Britain and France, they looked increasingly to the United States, and the appeal of a postwar American trusteeship over Syria gained currency among émigré intellectuals and aspiring powerbrokers.

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Foreign policies or culture: What shapes Muslim public opinion on political violence against the United States?

Lars Berger
Journal of Peace Research, November 2014, Pages 782-796

Abstract:
This analysis uses survey data representing three of the world’s most populous Muslim majority countries to challenge conventional wisdom on what shapes Muslim public opinion on political violence against the United States. It improves previous analysis by clearly distinguishing support for violence against civilians from support for violence against military targets and by featuring independent variables that clearly separate views on US foreign policies from views on US culture. Logistic regression shows that, among Egyptian, Pakistani and Indonesian Muslims, perceptions of controversial US policies toward Israel, Middle Eastern oil, or the perceived attempt to weaken and divide the Muslim world are not related to support for attacks on civilians in the United States, but only to support for attacks on US military targets. Approval of attacks on US civilians is shaped, instead, by negative views of US freedom of expression, culture, and people, disapproval of the domestic political status quo and the notion of general US hostility toward democracy in the Middle East. This last finding has important implications for US and Western policies toward the post-Arab Spring Middle East in particular and the broader relationship with the Muslim World in general.

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Saudi Arabia’s Soft Power

Giulio Gallarotti & Isam Yahia Al-Filali
International Studies, July & October 2014, Pages 233-261

Abstract:
When people are asked the question, what is the source of Saudi Arabia’s power, who would cite factors other than oil? This equation of Saudi power exclusively with its oil wealth is mistaken. Historically, a principal and the most consistent source of Saudi power at the domestic, regional and global levels has not been revenues from oil, but the cultural power that inheres in a nation that is both the capital of the Muslim and Arab worlds. This soft power accounts for as much, if not more, of Saudi influence than even oil itself. To a large extent, this power explains why Saudi Arabia has remained stout in the face of the shock waves of the Arab Spring. Saudi soft power also accounts for much of the leverage that the Kingdom enjoys in its region and the world at large. This article assesses the principal sources of Saudi Arabia’s soft power, discusses the modern day international, regional and domestic challenges facing Saudi Arabia, and finally analyzes how Saudi soft power can effectively deal with those challenges.

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The Localized and Spatial Effects of US Troop Deployments on Host-State Defense Spending

Michael Allen, Julie VanDusky-Allen & Michael Flynn
Foreign Policy Analysis, forthcoming

Abstract:
We analyze how the deployment of US troops affects host-state defense spending. We test this relationship, from 1951 to 2003, by examining how the deployment of US military forces impacts defense spending in different types of states, including US allies, NATO members, non-allies of the United States, and all states. We also utilize spatial measures of US troop deployments to analyze how regional and neighborhood concentrations of forces shape host-state policies. Using both traditional panel methodology, and incorporating a simultaneous equation model for the deployment of troops, we find that non-allied states tend to decrease their defense burden when the United States places troops within their borders. However, NATO allies consistently increase their defense burden in response to the presence of US troops within their borders. Additionally, most states tend to increase spending when the United States places troops near their borders.

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Beyond Emboldenment: The Effects of Nuclear Weapons on State Foreign Policy

Mark Bell
MIT Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
What happens to the foreign policies of states when they acquire nuclear weapons? Despite its critical importance, this question has been understudied. This paper offers a new typology of the effects of nuclear weapons on foreign policy that allows us to move beyond predictions of "emboldenment," and hypothesizes the circumstances in which these effects might be observed. The paper demonstrates the utility of this typology by using it to shed light on a "hard" case: the United Kingdom. In contrast to the expectations of existing theories, the acquisition of a deliverable nuclear capability in 1955 significantly affected British foreign policy. Britain used its nuclear weapons to maintain its forward conventional posture at lower cost, bolster its junior allies in the Middle East, Far East and Europe, delay retrenchment, and respond more independently of the United States and with greater steadfastness to challenges to its position - most dramatically during the 1956 Suez crisis.

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Hidden Diplomacy: The German–American Dispute over Iran

Matthias Küntzel
American Foreign Policy Interests, July/August 2014, Pages 225-233

Abstract:
From as early as the 1920s, Germany has developed a special relationship with Iran. After the Islamic Revolution, it remained the only Western country that continued to have friendly relations with Tehran. As regards technology transfer, Germany remains to this day Iran's most important partner. As a result, the public dispute between the West and Iran over the latter's nuclear program has been accompanied by a mostly non-public dispute between Washington and Berlin over the West's overall approach to Iran. This dispute began more than 20 years ago. Germany has played the role of a “protective shield” (Joschka Fischer) for Tehran by watering down the sanctions policy and rejecting the use of the threat of military force. The latter position is supported by Moscow and Peking and rejected by London, Washington, and Paris. Germany's inclination to make the most of its geopolitical middle position has been reinforced by a semi-official German foreign policy position paper from 2013 that downgrades the principle of Western integration in favor of a strategy of multipolarity.

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Unpacking Territorial Disputes: Domestic Political Influences and War

Thorin Wright & Paul Diehl
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

Abstract:
What distinguishes the militarized territorial disputes that escalate to war from those that do not? Although research has clearly established that territorial conflicts are especially war-prone, the understanding as to why this is the case is less developed when compared to domestic factors such as joint democracy. We explain that territorial conflicts are especially war-prone when democratic and autocratic states are engaged in conflict against one another. Because of domestic concerns, democracies and autocracies value territory differently, generating a smaller bargaining space. Democracies will tend to be more resistant to settlement when territory is of a “public,” symbolic, or intangible value. Autocracies, on the other hand, are more likely to value the tangible qualities of territory, such as its resource value. This disparity in territorial goals makes mixed regime dyads more war-prone when territory is disputed. We further believe that the smaller the winning coalition in autocracies, the more war-prone they are against democracies. We test these propositions among all dyads as well as interstate rivals and find support for our theoretical framework.

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The terror of ‘terrorists’: An investigation in experimental applied ethics

Adam Feltz & Edward Cokely
Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Fall 2014, Pages 195-211

Abstract:
Some theorists argue that appropriate responses to terrorism are in part shaped by popular sentiment. In two experiments, using representative design and ecological stimuli (e.g. actual news reports), we present evidence for some of the ways popular sentiment about terrorism tracks theory and can be constructed. In Experiment 1, we document that using the word ‘terrorist’ to describe a group of people decreases willingness to understand the group's grievances, decreases willingness to negotiate with the group, increases perceived permissibility of violence against the group, and decreases the perceived rationality of the group. In Experiment 2, we demonstrate that judgment about the permissibility of the use of force against terrorist groups can be biased by simple memory-priming manipulations. Results are interpreted in terms of (1) implications for philosophical theories about terrorism and (2) the role that experimental investigation can play in applied ethics.

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US foreign aid, interstate rivalry, and incentives for counterterrorism cooperation

Andrew Boutton
Journal of Peace Research, November 2014, Pages 741-754

Abstract:
A common strategy pursued by states targeted by international terrorism is to provide economic and military assistance to the states that host this activity. This is thought to increase their willingness and capacity to crack down on terrorism, but very little work to date has looked at whether this strategy actually leads to desirable outcomes. This article offers an explanation for why a strategy of foreign aid-for-counterterrorism can be successful in some contexts, but counterproductive in situations in which recipients have more pressing strategic priorities. Specifically, I argue that host states receiving US foreign aid that are involved in an ongoing interstate rivalry will use the aid to arm against their rival, rather than to undertake counterterrorism. These states thus have an incentive not to disarm terrorist groups, but rather to play-up the threat from terrorism in order to continue receiving aid concessions. Using data on US foreign aid and terrorist activity in recipient countries, I employ a series of duration and count models to demonstrate that, while US foreign aid can help to decrease terrorist activity in non-rivalrous states, the opposite is true in states with at least one rival.

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Does Nation Building Spur Economic Growth?

Ellyn Creasey, Ahmed Rahman & Katherine Smith
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
Nation building, the allocation of economic aid conditional on military assistance in conflict and post-conflict environments, has cost the world trillions of dollars over the last half century. Yet few attempts have been made to quantify the potential economic growth effects for the recipient country from the provision of this aid. Using a 45-year panel dataset, we construct a measure of nation building using a three-way interaction term between military assistance, economic aid, and conflict regime. Considering that slow growing and problem-prone countries may be less likely to receive aid, we instrument for economic aid by estimating donor-to-donee aid flows in a first-stage procedure. Using this approach, we find that spending on nation building has positive growth effects during conflict periods, but that these effects disappear after conflict.

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Collective Punishment Depends on Collective Responsibility and Political Organization of the Target Group

Andrea Pereira et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, January 2015, Pages 4–17

Abstract:
What factors determine the willingness to inflict collective punishment upon a group for a misdeed committed by individual group members? This research investigates the effect of collective responsibility shared among group members and the moderating effect of the group’s political organization (democratic vs. nondemocratic). Hypothesizing that moral accountability should be greater for democratic offender groups compared to nondemocratic groups, five experiments showed that the positive effect of collective responsibility on support for collective punishment (experiment 1) was stronger for democratic groups than for nondemocratic groups (experiment 2-5). A sixth experiment revealed that the moral and social value ascribed to democracy led to higher expectations towards democratic groups, resulting in negative perceptions of the democratic offender group and ultimately in increased collective punishment. The results are discussed in terms of defense strategies of democratic values.

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Who Runs the International System? Power and the Staffing of the United Nations Secretariat

Paul Novosad & Eric Werker
Harvard Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
National governments frequently pull strings to get their citizens appointed to senior positions in international institutions. We examine, over a 60 year period, the nationalities of the most senior positions in the United Nations Secretariat, ostensibly the world's most representative international institution. The results indicate which nations are successful in this zero-sum game, and what national characteristics correlate with power in international institutions. The most overrepresented countries are small, rich democracies like the Nordic countries. Statistically, democracy, investment in diplomacy, and economic/military power are predictors of senior positions ― even after controlling for the U.N. staffing mandate of competence and integrity. National control over the United Nations is remarkably sticky; however the influence of the United States has diminished as U.S. ideology has shifted away from its early allies. In spite of the decline in U.S. influence, the Secretariat remains pro-American relative to the world at large.

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Motivated and Displaced Revenge: Remembering 9/11 Suppresses Opposition to Military Intervention in Syria (for Some)

Anthony Washburn & Linda Skitka
Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
We conducted an experimental test of the displaced international punishment hypothesis by testing whether reminding people about 9/11 would increase support for U.S. military intervention in Syria. A community sample of Americans were reminded of 9/11, the terrorist attacks in London in 2005, or were given no reminder before being asked their support for military intervention in Syria. Results indicated that there was a significant suppression effect of desired revenge for the 9/11 attacks on support for military intervention for liberals and moderates, but not conservatives. Liberal and moderate participants reminded of 9/11 supported military intervention because reminders of 9/11 primed strong desires for vengeance. These findings suggest that reminding people of a severe offense to their country triggers a desire for revenge, which increases the desire to punish a target symbolically similar to the original perpetrator, but only when doing so is politically expedient.

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Strategic taboos: Chemical weapons and US foreign policy

Michelle Bentley
International Affairs, September 2014, Pages 1033–1048

Abstract:
This article examines US President Barack Obama's foreign policy rhetoric on Syria, specifically in relation to the threat of chemical weapons and the prohibitionary taboo surrounding their use. It contends that Obama's rhetorical construction of the taboo is not simply a commitment to the control of these horrific weapons (where such arms have been comprehended as so extensively vile as to preclude their employment), but that this also represents the strategic linguistic exploitation of these normative ideals in order to directly shape policy. By analysing of presidential speeches made during the conflict, it demonstrates that Obama has manipulated pre-existing conceptions of chemical weapons as taboo, and also as forms of weapons of mass destruction, to deliberately construct policy in line with his own political ambitions — most notably as a way of forcing a multilateral solution to the situation in Syria. This article challenges existing perceptions of the chemical weapons taboo as an inherently normative constraint, arguing that this instead comprises a more agency-driven construct. Static notions of the taboo must be abandoned and subsequently replaced with a framework of understanding that recognizes how the taboo can be used as a deliberate driver of foreign policy.

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The PLA and National Security Decisionmaking: Insights from China's Behavior in its Territorial Disputes

Taylor Fravel
MIT Working Paper, October 2013

Abstract:
A central question in the study of China’s foreign policy is the role of the PLA in national security decisionmaking. This paper seeks to illuminate this question by examining one specific issue area, territorial disputes. The role of the PLA in decisionmaking in China’s territorial disputes has been limited to bureaucratic influence within existing policymaking structures and processes. With the partial exception of China’s interpretation of the rights of coastal states under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the PLA has not played a significant role influencing the initiation of China’s territorial disputes, in the content of these claims or in how China has chosen to defend these claims. Instead, China’s behavior in territorial disputes, including its recent assertiveness in the South China Sea and East China Sea, reflects the consensus of China’s top party leaders to respond to what are seen as challenges and provocations from other states. Little evidence exists to support the view that the PLA has escalated these disputes against the wishes of top leaders.

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Hunger games: Or how the Allied blockade in the First World War deprived German children of nutrition, and Allied food aid subsequently saved them

Mary Elisabeth Cox
Economic History Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
At the onset of the First World War, Germany was subject to a shipping embargo by the Allied forces. Ostensibly military in nature, the blockade prevented not only armaments but also food and fertilizers from entering Germany. The impact of that blockade on civilian populations has been debated ever since. Germans protested that the Allies had wielded hunger as a weapon against women and children with devastating results, a claim that was hotly denied by the Allies. The impact of what the Germans termed the Hungerblockade on childhood nutrition can now be assessed using a newly discovered dataset based on heights and weights of nearly 600,000 German schoolchildren measured between 1914 and 1924. Statistical analysis reveals a grim truth: German children suffered severe malnutrition due to the blockade. Social class impacted risk of deprivation, with working-class children suffering the most. Surprisingly, they were the quickest to recover after the war. Their rescue was fuelled by massive food aid organized by the former enemies of Germany, and delivered cooperatively with both government and civil society. The ability of former belligerents to work together after an exceptionally bitter war to feed impoverished children may hold hope for the future.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sick of it

Recessions, Job Loss, and Mortality Among Older US Adults

Clemens Noelke & Jason Beckfield
American Journal of Public Health, November 2014, Pages e126-e134

Objectives: We analyzed how recessions and job loss jointly shape mortality risks among older US adults.

Methods: We used data for 50 states from the Health and Retirement Study and selected individuals who were employed at ages 45 to 66 years during 1992 to 2011. We assessed whether job loss affects mortality risks, whether recessions moderate the effect of job loss on mortality, and whether individuals who do and do not experience job loss are differentially affected by recessions.

Results: Compared with individuals not experiencing job loss, mortality risks among individuals losing their job in a recession were strongly elevated (hazard ratio = 1.6; 95% confidence interval = 1.1, 2.3). Job loss during normal times or booms is not associated with mortality. For employed workers, we found a reduction in mortality risks if local labor market conditions were depressed, but this result was not consistent across different model specifications.

Conclusions: Recessions increase mortality risks among older US adults who experience job loss. Health professionals and policymakers should target resources to this group during recessions. Future research should clarify which health conditions are affected by job loss during recessions and whether access to health care following job loss moderates this relation.

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Is There a Link Between Foreclosure and Health?

Janet Currie & Erdal Tekin
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigate the relationship between foreclosures and hospital visits using data on all foreclosures and all hospital and emergency room visits from four states that were among the hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. We find that living in a neighborhood with a spike in foreclosures is associated with significant increases in urgent unscheduled visits, including increases in visits for preventable conditions. The estimated relationships cannot be accounted for by increasing unemployment, declines in housing prices, migration, or by people switching from out-patient providers to hospitals.

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A hidden cost of war: The impact of mobilizing reserve troops on emergency response times

Christopher Coyne et al.
Public Choice, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper analyzes a hidden cost of war: the effect of the mass mobilization of reserve troops on the response times of domestic emergency services to accidents. We provide a statistical examination of this linkage following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and find that mobilization significantly increases response times to accidents in the United States. These mobilization-related costs are exacerbated by both legal restrictions and issues of replacing highly specialized human capital.

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Maternal Intake of Supplemental Iron and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Rebecca Schmidt et al.
American Journal of Epidemiology, 1 November 2014, Pages 890-900

Abstract:
Iron deficiency affects 40%–50% of pregnancies. Iron is critical for early neurodevelopmental processes that are dysregulated in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We examined maternal iron intake in relation to ASD risk in California-born children enrolled in a population-based case-control study (the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) Study) from 2003 to 2009 with a diagnosis of ASD (n = 520) or typical development (n = 346) that was clinically confirmed using standardized assessments. Mean maternal daily iron intake was quantified on the basis of frequency, dose, and brands of supplements and cereals consumed each month from 3 months before pregnancy through the end of pregnancy and during breastfeeding (the index period), as reported in parental interviews. Mothers of cases were less likely to report taking iron-specific supplements during the index period (adjusted odds ratio = 0.63, 95% confidence interval: 0.44, 0.91), and they had a lower mean daily iron intake (51.7 (standard deviation, 34.0) mg/day) than mothers of controls (57.1 (standard deviation, 36.6) mg/day; P = 0.03). The highest quintile of iron intake during the index period was associated with reduced ASD risk compared with the lowest (adjusted odds ratio = 0.49, 95% confidence interval: 0.29, 0.82), especially during breastfeeding. Low iron intake significantly interacted with advanced maternal age and metabolic conditions; combined exposures were associated with a 5-fold increased ASD risk. Further studies of this link between maternal supplemental iron and ASD are needed to inform ASD prevention strategies.

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Second Trimester Sunlight and Asthma: Evidence from Two Independent Studies

Nils Wernerfelt, David Slusky & Richard Zeckhauser
NBER Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
One in twelve Americans suffers from asthma and its annual costs are estimated to exceed $50 billion. Simultaneously, the root causes of the disease remain unknown. A recent hypothesis speculates that maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy affect the probability the fetus later develops asthma. In two large-scale studies, we test this hypothesis using a natural experiment afforded by historical variation in sunlight, a major source of vitamin D. Specifically, holding the birth location and month fixed, we see how exogenous within-location variation in sunlight across birth years affects the probability of asthma onset. We show that this measurement of sunlight correlates with actual exposure, and consistent with pre-existing results from the fetal development literature, we find substantial and highly significant evidence in both datasets that increased sunlight during the second trimester lowers the subsequent probability of asthma. Our results suggest policies designed to augment vitamin D levels in pregnant women, the large majority of whom are vitamin D insufficient, could be very cost-effective.

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Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota

Jotham Suez et al.
Nature, 9 October 2014, Pages 181–186

Abstract:
Non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) are among the most widely used food additives worldwide, regularly consumed by lean and obese individuals alike. NAS consumption is considered safe and beneficial owing to their low caloric content, yet supporting scientific data remain sparse and controversial. Here we demonstrate that consumption of commonly used NAS formulations drives the development of glucose intolerance through induction of compositional and functional alterations to the intestinal microbiota. These NAS-mediated deleterious metabolic effects are abrogated by antibiotic treatment, and are fully transferrable to germ-free mice upon faecal transplantation of microbiota configurations from NAS-consuming mice, or of microbiota anaerobically incubated in the presence of NAS. We identify NAS-altered microbial metabolic pathways that are linked to host susceptibility to metabolic disease, and demonstrate similar NAS-induced dysbiosis and glucose intolerance in healthy human subjects. Collectively, our results link NAS consumption, dysbiosis and metabolic abnormalities, thereby calling for a reassessment of massive NAS usage.

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The prevalence of periodontal disease in a Romano-British population c. 200-400 AD

T. Raitapuro-Murray, T.I. Molleson & F.J. Hughes
British Dental Journal, October 2014, Pages 459-466

Subjects and methods: 303 skulls from a Romano-British burial site in Poundbury, Dorset were examined for evidence of dental disease.

Results: The overall prevalence of moderate to severe periodontitis was just greater than 5%. The prevalence rate remained nearly constant between ages 20 to 60, after which it rose to around 10%. The number of affected teeth increased with age. Horizontal bone loss was generally minor. Caries was seen in around 50% of the cohort, and evidence of pulpal and apical pathology was seen in around 25%.

Conclusions: The prevalence of moderate to severe periodontitis was markedly decreased when compared to the prevalence in modern populations, underlining the potential importance of risk factors such as smoking and diabetes in determining susceptibility to progressive periodontitis in modern populations.

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Geographic variations in sleep duration: A multilevel analysis from the Boston Area Community Health (BACH) Survey

Shona Fang et al.
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: Sleep plays an important role in health and varies by social determinants. Little is known, however, about geographic variations in sleep and the role of individual-level and neighbourhood-level factors.

Methods: We used a multilevel modelling approach to quantify neighbourhood variation in self-reported sleep duration (very short <5 h; short 5–6.9 h; normative 7–8.9 h; long ≥9 h) among 3591 participants of the Boston Area Community Health Survey. We determined whether geographic variations persisted with control for individual-level demographic, socioeconomic status (SES) and lifestyle factors. We then determined the role of neighbourhood SES (nSES) in geographic variations. Additional models considered individual health factors.

Results: Between neighbourhood differences accounted for a substantial portion of total variability in sleep duration. Neighbourhood variation persisted with control for demographics, SES and lifestyle factors. These characteristics accounted for a portion (6–20%) of between-neighbourhood variance in very short, short and long sleep, while nSES accounted for the majority of the remaining between-neighbourhood variances. Low and medium nSES were associated with very short and short sleep (eg, very short sleep OR=2.08; 95% CI 1.38 to 3.14 for low vs high nSES), but not long sleep. Further inclusion of health factors did not appreciably increase the amount of between-neighbourhood variance explained nor did it alter associations.

Conclusions: Sleep duration varied by neighbourhood in a diverse urban setting in the northeastern USA. Individual-level demographics, SES and lifestyle factors explained some geographic variability, while nSES explained a substantial amount. Mechanisms associated with nSES should be examined in future studies to help understand and reduce geographic variations in sleep.

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The Socioeconomic Gradient in Physical Inactivity: Evidence from One Million Adults in England

Lisa Farrell et al.
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
Understanding the socioeconomic gradient in physical inactivity is essential for effective health promotion. This paper exploits data on over one million individuals (1,002,216 people aged 16 and over) in England drawn from the Active People Survey (2004-11). We identify the separate associations between a variety of measures of physical inactivity with education and household income. We find high levels of physical inactivity. Further, both education and household income are strongly associated with inactivity even when controlling for local area deprivation, the availability of physical recreation and sporting facilities, the local weather and regional geography. Moreover, the gap in inactivity between those living in high and low income households is already evident in early adult life and increases up until about age 85. Overall, these results suggest that England is building up a large future health problem and one that is heavily socially graded.

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Are Neighborhood Health Associations Causal? A 10-Year Prospective Cohort Study With Repeated Measurements

Markus Jokela
American Journal of Epidemiology, 15 October 2014, Pages 776-784

Abstract:
People who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods tend to have poor physical and mental health, but this might be due to selective residential mobility rather than causal neighborhood effects. As a test of social causation, I examined whether persons were less healthy when they were living in disadvantaged neighborhoods than at other times when they were living in more advantaged neighborhoods. Data were taken from the 10-year Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) prospective cohort study, which had annual follow-up waves between 2001 and 2010 (n = 112,503 person-observations from 20,012 persons). Neighborhood disadvantage was associated with poorer self-rated health, mental health, and physical functioning, higher probability of smoking, and less frequent physical activity. However, these associations were almost completely due to between-person differences; the associations were not replicated in within-person analyses that compared the same persons living in different neighborhoods over time. Results were similar when using neighborhood remoteness as the exposure and when focusing only on long-term residence. In contrast, poor health predicted selective residential mobility to less advantaged neighborhoods, which provided evidence of social selection. These findings provide little support for social causation in neighborhood health associations and suggest that correlations between neighborhoods and health may develop via selective residential mobility.

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Alternating antibiotic treatments constrain evolutionary paths to multidrug resistance

Seungsoo Kim, Tami Lieberman & Roy Kishony
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 7 October 2014, Pages 14494–14499

Abstract:
Alternating antibiotic therapy, in which pairs of drugs are cycled during treatment, has been suggested as a means to inhibit the evolution of de novo resistance while avoiding the toxicity associated with more traditional combination therapy. However, it remains unclear under which conditions and by what means such alternating treatments impede the evolution of resistance. Here, we tracked multistep evolution of resistance in replicate populations of Staphylococcus aureus during 22 d of continuously increasing single-, mixed-, and alternating-drug treatment. In all three tested drug pairs, the alternating treatment reduced the overall rate of resistance by slowing the acquisition of resistance to one of the two component drugs, sometimes as effectively as mixed treatment. This slower rate of evolution is reflected in the genome-wide mutational profiles; under alternating treatments, bacteria acquire mutations in different genes than under corresponding single-drug treatments. To test whether this observed constraint on adaptive paths reflects trade-offs in which resistance to one drug is accompanied by sensitivity to a second drug, we profiled many single-step mutants for cross-resistance. Indeed, the average cross-resistance of single-step mutants can help predict whether or not evolution was slower in alternating drugs. Together, these results show that despite the complex evolutionary landscape of multidrug resistance, alternating-drug therapy can slow evolution by constraining the mutational paths toward resistance.

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Community, Family, and Subjective Socioeconomic Status: Relative Status and Adolescent Health

Elizabeth Quon & Jennifer McGrath
Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: Relative socioeconomic status (SES) may be an important social determinant of health. The current study aimed to examine how relative SES, as measured by subjective SES, income inequality, and individual SES relative to others in the community, is associated with a wide range of adolescent health outcomes, after controlling for objective family SES.

Method: Adolescents (13–16 years; N = 2,199) from the Quebec Child and Adolescent Health and Social Survey were included. Socioeconomic measures included adolescents’ subjective SES; parental education and household income; community education/employment, income, and poverty rate; and community income inequality. Health outcomes included self-rated health, mental health problems, dietary and exercise health behaviors, substance-related health behaviors, reported physical health, and biomarkers of health. Best-fitting multilevel regression models (participants nested within schools) were used to test associations.

Results: Findings indicated that lower subjective SES was associated with poorer health outcomes. After accounting for family SES, lower community education/employment had an additional negative effect on health, while lower community income had a protective effect for certain health outcomes. There was less evidence for an independent effect of income inequality.

Conclusions: Findings highlight the importance of measures of relative SES that span across a number of levels and contexts, and provide further understanding into the socioeconomic gradient in adolescence.

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Associations between Acetaminophen Use during Pregnancy and ADHD Symptoms Measured at Ages 7 and 11 Years

John Thompson et al.
PLoS ONE, September 2014

Objective: Our aim was to replicate and extend the recently found association between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and ADHD symptoms in school-age children.

Methods: Participants were members of the Auckland Birthweight Collaborative Study, a longitudinal study of 871 infants of European descent sampled disproportionately for small for gestational age. Drug use during pregnancy (acetaminophen, aspirin, antacids, and antibiotics) were analysed in relation to behavioural difficulties and ADHD symptoms measured by parent report at age 7 and both parent- and child-report at 11 years of age. The analyses included multiple covariates including birthweight, socioeconomic status and antenatal maternal perceived stress.

Results: Acetaminophen was used by 49.8% of the study mothers during pregnancy. We found significantly higher total difficulty scores (Strengths and Difficulty Questionnaire parent report at age 7 and child report at age 11) if acetaminophen was used during pregnancy, but there were no significant differences associated with any of the other drugs. Children of mothers who used acetaminophen during pregnancy were also at increased risk of ADHD at 7 and 11 years of age (Conners’ Parent Rating Scale-Revised).

Conclusions: These findings strengthen the contention that acetaminophen exposure in pregnancy increases the risk of ADHD-like behaviours. Our study also supports earlier claims that findings are specific to acetaminophen.

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Disparities in cancer incidence and mortality by area-level socioeconomic status: A multilevel analysis

Theresa Hastert et al.
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: Disparities in cancer incidence and mortality have been observed by measures of area-level socioeconomic status (SES); however, the extent to which these disparities are explained by individual SES is unclear.

Methods: Participants included 60 756 men and women in the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) study cohort, aged 50–76 years at baseline (2000–2002) and followed through 2010. We constructed a block group SES index using the 2000 US Census and fit Cox proportional hazards models to estimate the association between area-level SES (by quintile) and total and site-specific cancer incidence and total cancer mortality, with and without household income and individual education in the models.

Results: Lower area-level SES was weakly associated with higher total cancer incidence and lower prostate cancer risk, but was not associated with risk of breast cancer. Compared with the highest-SES areas, living in the lowest-SES areas was associated with higher lung (HR: 2.21, 95% CI 1.69 to 2.90) and colorectal cancer incidence (HR: 1.52, 95% CI 1.11 to 2.09) and total cancer mortality (HR: 1.68, 95% CI 1.47 to 1.93). Controlling for individual education and household income weakened the observed associations, but did not eliminate them (lung cancer HR: 1.43, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.91; colorectal cancer HR: 1.35, 95% CI 0.97 to 1.88; cancer mortality HR: 1.28, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.48).

Conclusions: Area-level socioeconomic disparities exist for several cancer outcomes. These differences are not fully explained by individual SES, suggesting area-level factors may play a role.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pass or fail

The Faculty Flutie Factor: Does Football Performance Affect a University's US News and World Report Peer Assessment Score?

Sean Mulholland, Aleksandar (Sasha) Tomic & Samuel Sholander
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Analyzing the peer assessment category of the US News and World Report's America's Best Colleges rankings, we find that universities fielding a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team are more highly rated by administrators and faculty at peer institutions. Universities are also more highly rated if their football team receives a greater number of votes in either the final Associated Press or Coaches' Poll. Controlling for unobserved heterogeneity, our estimates suggest that a one standard deviation increase in votes from one season to the next is associated with a peer score increase that is about equal (in absolute value terms) to the mean year-over-year peer score decline witnessed by the institutions in our sample. Performance matters even if we only focus on FBS schools.

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The Economic Value of Breaking Bad Misbehavior, Schooling and the Labor Market

Nicholas Papageorge, Victor Ronda & Yu Zheng
Johns Hopkins University Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Prevailing research argues that childhood misbehavior in the classroom is bad for schooling and, presumably, bad overall. In contrast, we argue that childhood misbehavior reflects underlying traits that are potentially valuable in the labor market. We follow work from psychology and treat measured classroom misbehavior as reflecting two underlying non-cognitive traits. Next, we estimate a model of education decisions and labor market outcomes, allowing the impact of each of the two traits to vary by outcome. We show the first evidence that one of the traits capturing childhood misbehavior, discussed in psychological literature as the externalizing trait (and linked, for example, to aggression), does indeed reduce educational attainment, but also increases earnings. This finding highlights a broader point: non-cognition is not well summarized as a single underlying trait that is either good or bad per se. Using the estimated model, we assess competing pedagogical policies. For males, we find that policies aimed at eliminating the externalizing trait increase schooling attainment, but also reduce earnings. In comparison, policies that decrease the schooling penalty of the externalizing trait increase both schooling and earnings.

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Long-Term Impacts of Compensatory Preschool on Health and Behavior: Evidence from Head Start

Pedro Carneiro & Rita Ginja
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper provides new estimates of the medium and long-term impacts of Head Start on health and behavioral problems. We identify these impacts using discontinuities in the probability of participation induced by program eligibility rules. Our strategy allows us to identify the effect of Head Start for the individuals in the neighborhoods of multiple discontinuities. Participation in the program reduces the incidence of behavioral problems, health problems, and obesity of male children at ages 12 and 13. It lowers depression and obesity among adolescents, and it reduces engagement in criminal activities and idleness for young adults.

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Intensive College Counseling and the College Enrollment Choices of Low Income Students

Benjamin Castleman & Joshua Goodman
Harvard Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
Low income high school graduates are less likely to enroll in four-year colleges than their more advantaged peers. When they do enroll, they are more likely to choose colleges with low graduation rates and higher costs, increasing their risk of leaving college without a degree and with substantial debt. Such decision-making may be driven in part by a lack of information about the full range of college options that are available to students. We study the potential for intensive college counseling to remedy this informational barrier and improve students' college choices. Capitalizing on an arbitrary cut-off in the admissions criteria for Bottom Line, an college advising program in Massachusetts, we use a regression discontinuity design to estimate the effect of intensive advising on students' college choices as well as on their overall enrollment and persistence in college. We find that intensive college advising substantially shifts towards one of the four-year colleges encouraged by the program and away from institutions the program discourages. This effect is particularly strong for students from families where English is not the first language, and for whom the informational barriers may be particularly constraining. This shift in enrollment reduces the average net price of the institutions students are attending, likely lowering their financial burden. Finally, we see suggestive evidence of increases in overall four-year college enrollment and persistence through the first two years of college. We argue that this evidence indicates that intensive college advising can generate large impacts on college enrollment decisions and may improve persistence and, ultimately, degree completion.

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Educational Vouchers and Social Cohesion: A Statistical Analysis of Student Civic Attitudes in Sweden, 1999-2009

Najeeb Shafiq & John Myers
American Journal of Education, November 2014, Pages 111-136

Abstract:
This study examines the Swedish national educational voucher scheme and changes in social cohesion. We conduct a statistical analysis using data from the 1999 and 2009 rounds of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement's civic education study of 14-year-old students and their attitudes toward the rights of ethnic minorities and immigrants. Using regression models, we do not find evidence of a decline in civic attitudes and therefore social cohesion. We attribute the results to Sweden's voucher design and context that minimized segregation and preserved civics curricula in all schools.

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College Selectivity and Degree Completion

Scott Heil, Liza Reisel & Paul Attewell
American Educational Research Journal, October 2014, Pages 913-935

Abstract:
How much of a difference does it make whether a student of a given academic ability enters a more or a less selective four-year college? Some studies claim that attending a more academically selective college markedly improves one's graduation prospects. Others report the reverse: an advantage from attending an institution where one's own skills exceed most other students. Using multilevel models and propensity score matching methods to reduce selection bias, we find that selectivity does not have an independent effect on graduation. Instead, we find relatively small positive effects on graduation from attending a college with higher tuition costs. We also find no evidence that students not attending highly selective colleges suffer reduced chances of graduation, all else being equal.

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Merit Aid, College Quality, and College Completion: Massachusetts' Adams Scholarship as an In-Kind Subsidy

Sarah Cohodes & Joshua Goodman
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, October 2014, Pages 251-285

Abstract:
We analyze a Massachusetts merit aid program that gives high-scoring students tuition waivers at in-state public colleges with lower graduation rates than available alternative colleges. A regression discontinuity design comparing students just above and below the eligibility threshold finds that students are remarkably willing to forgo college quality and that scholarship use actually lowered college completion rates. These results suggest that college quality affects college completion rates. The theoretical prediction that in-kind subsidies of public institutions can reduce consumption of the subsidized good is shown to be empirically important.

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The Bridge and the Troll Underneath: Summer Bridge Programs and Degree Completion

Daniel Douglas & Paul Attewell
American Journal of Education, November 2014, Pages 87-109

Abstract:
College graduation rates in the United States are low in both real and relative terms. This has left all stakeholders looking for novel solutions while perhaps ignoring extant but underused programs. This article examines the effect of "summer bridge" programs, which have students enroll in coursework prior to beginning their first full academic year, on associate's and bachelor's degree completion. We make use of the Beyond Postsecondary (BPS) transcript data as well as data from one large university system. Our analysis utilizes propensity score matching to account for selection effects among students. We find that at community colleges and less selective 4-year colleges, students who attend bridge programs are 10 percentage points more likely to finish within 6 years. We discuss our findings in the context of how colleges might better use their existing initiatives to improve student outcomes, and in light of recent findings from a randomized controlled trial study.

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The General Equilibrium Effects of Educational Expansion

Nicola Bianchi
Stanford Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
In an effort to raise skills or promote equality, states sometimes engage in sweeping reforms that rapidly increase access to education for a significant share of their population. Such reforms are hard to evaluate because they may alter more than the outcomes of marginal students induced to enroll. They may change returns to skill, school quality, peer effects, and the educational choices of apparently inframarginal students (those who would have enrolled in the absence of the reform). I identify such general equilibrium effects by examining a dramatic 1961 Italian reform that increased university enrollment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields by more than 200 percent in a few years. The peculiar features of the reform allow me to identify students who were unaffected, directly affected, and indirectly affected. They also allow me to identify key channels through which the effects ran. Using data I collected from tax returns and hand-written transcripts on more than 27,000 students, I show that the direct effects of the reform were as intended: many more students enrolled and many more obtained degrees. However, I also find that those induced to enroll earned no more than students in earlier cohorts who were denied access to university. I reconcile these surprising results by showing that the education expansion reduced returns to skill and lowered university learning through congestion and peer effects. I also demonstrate that apparently inframarginal students were significantly affected: the most able of them abandoned STEM majors rather than accept lower returns and lower human capital.

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Birthdays, schooling, and crime: Regression-discontinuity analysis of school performance, delinquency, dropout, and crime initiation

Philip Cook & Songman Kang
Duke University Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
Dropouts have high crime rates, but is there a direct causal link? This study, utilizing administrative data for 6 cohorts of public school children in North Carolina, demonstrates that those born just after the cut date for enrolling in public kindergarten are more likely to drop out of high school before graduation and to commit a felony offense by age 19. We present suggestive evidence that dropout mediates criminal involvement. Paradoxically, these late-entry students outperform their grade peers academically while still in school, which helps account for the fact that they are less likely to become juvenile delinquents.

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Do Employers Prefer Workers Who Attend For-Profit Colleges? Evidence from a Field Experiment

Rajeev Darolia et al.
RAND Working Paper, June 2014

Abstract:
This paper reports results from a resume-based field experiment designed to examine employer preferences for job applicants who attended for-profit colleges. For-profit colleges have seen sharp increases in enrollment in recent years despite alternatives such as public community colleges being much cheaper. We sent almost 9,000 fictitious resumes of young applicants who recently completed their schooling to online job postings in six occupational categories and tracked employer callback rates. We find no evidence that employers prefer applicants with resumes listing a for-profit college relative to those whose resumes list either a community college or no college at all.

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The Costs of Failure: Negative Externalities in High School Course Repetition

Andrew Hill
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Failure in US high school courses is common, but little is known about its effects. This paper investigates the extent to which course repeaters in high school mathematics courses exert negative externalities on their course-mates. Using individual and school-specific course fixed effects to control for ability and course selection, it shows that increasing the share of repeaters in a given course results in a moderate, significant increase in the probability of course failure for first-time course-takers. Results suggest that the negative effect is only evident when the share of repeaters reaches a threshold of five to ten percent of the total number of course-takers. The possibility that grading to a curve generates the effect cannot be ruled out, but is not fully supported in the data. Evidence is also presented that course repetition externalities may be distinct from low-ability peer effects.

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The Scarring Effects of Primary-Grade Retention? A Study of Cumulative Advantage in the Educational Career

Megan Andrew
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
Triggering events and the scarring, or status-dependence, process they induce are an important cornerstone of social stratification theory that is rarely studied in the context of the educational career. However, the decades-old high-stakes environment that ties many educational outcomes to a test score or other singular achievement underscores the potential importance of scarring in the contemporary educational career. In this paper, I study scarring in the educational career in the case of primary-grade retention. Using propensity score matching and sibling fixed-effects models, I evaluate evidence for primary-grade retention effects on high school completion and college entry and completion. I find consistent evidence of a causal effect of early primary school grade retention on high school completion. These effects operate largely through middle school academic achievements and expectations, suggesting that students who recover from the scar of grade retention on high school completion largely do so earlier rather than later in the educational career. Students can continue to recover from the effects of grade retention through early high school, not only through their academic achievements but through their expectations of high school completion as well. Models suggest that early primary grade retention scars the educational career mainly at high school completion, though there are important, unconditional effects on college entry and completion as a result. I conclude by placing these findings in the larger grade-retention literature and discussing future research on heterogeneities in and mechanisms of retention effects.

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Head Start's Impact Is Contingent on Alternative Type of Care in Comparison Group

Fuhua Zhai, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn & Jane Waldfogel
Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using data (n = 3,790 with 2,119 in the 3-year-old cohort and 1,671 in the 4-year-old cohort) from 353 Head Start centers in the Head Start Impact Study, the only large-scale randomized experiment in Head Start history, this article examined the impact of Head Start on children's cognitive and parent-reported social-behavioral outcomes through first grade contingent on the child care arrangements used by children who were randomly assigned to the control group (i.e., parental care, relative/nonrelative care, another Head Start program, or other center-based care). A principal score matching approach was adopted to identify children assigned to Head Start who were similar to children in the control group with a specific care arrangement. Overall, the results showed that the effects of Head Start varied substantially contingent on the alternative child care arrangements. Compared with children in parental care and relative/nonrelative care, Head Start participants generally had better cognitive and parent-reported behavioral development, with some benefits of Head Start persisting through first grade; in contrast, few differences were found between Head Start and other center-based care. The results have implications regarding the children for whom Head Start is most beneficial as well as how well Head Start compares with other center-based programs.

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Are Football Coaches Overpaid? Evidence from Their Employment Contracts

Randall Thomas & Lawrence Van Horn
Vanderbilt University Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
The commentators and the media pay particular attention to the compensation of high profile individuals. Whether these are corporate CEOs, or college football coaches, many critics question whether their levels of remuneration are appropriate. In contrast, corporate governance scholarship has asserted that as long as the compensation is tied to shareholder interests, it is the employment contract and incentives therein which should be the source of scrutiny, not the absolute level of pay itself. We employ this logic to study the compensation contracts of Division I FBS college football coaches during the period 2005-2013. Our analysis finds many commonalities between the structure and incentives of the employment contracts of CEOs and these football coaches. These contracts' features are consistent with what economic theory would predict. As such we find no evidence that the structure of college football coach contracts is misaligned, or that they are overpaid.

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How Much Are Public School Teachers Willing to Pay for Their Retirement Benefits?

Maria Donovan Fitzpatrick
NBER Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Public sector employees receive large fractions of their lifetime income in the form of deferred compensation. The introduction of the opportunity provided to Illinois public school employees to purchase additional pension benefits allows me to estimate employees' willingness-to-pay for benefits relative to the cost of providing them. The results show employees are willing to pay 20 cents on average for a dollar increase in the present value of expected retirement benefits. The findings suggest substantial inefficiency in compensation and cast doubt on the ability of deferred compensation schemes to attract employees.

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Credit Status and College Investment: Implications for Student Loan Policies

Anamaria Felicia Ionescu & Nicole Simpson
Federal Reserve Working Paper, August 2014

Abstract:
The private market for student loans has become an important source of college financing in the United States. Unlike government student loans, the terms on student loans in the private market are based on credit status. We quantify the importance of the private market for student loans and of credit status for college investment in a general equilibrium heterogeneous life-cycle economy. We find that students with good credit status invest in more college education (compared to those with bad credit status) and that this effect is more pronounced for low-income students. Furthermore, results suggest that the relationship between credit status and college investment has important policy implications. Specifically, when borrowing limits in the government student loan program are relaxed (as implemented in 2008), college investment increases, but so does the riskiness of the pool of borrowers, leading to higher default rates in the private market for student loans. When general equilibrium effects are accounted for, the welfare gains experienced from a more generous government student loan program are negated. This compares to budget-neutral tuition subsidies that increase college investment and welfare.

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Creating Cultural Consumers: The Dynamics of Cultural Capital Acquisition

Brian Kisida, Jay Greene & Daniel Bowen
Sociology of Education, October 2014, Pages 281-295

Abstract:
The theories of cultural reproduction and cultural mobility have largely shaped the study of the effects of cultural capital on academic outcomes. Missing in this debate has been a rigorous examination of how children actually acquire cultural capital when it is not provided by their families. Drawing on data from a large-scale experimental study of schools participating in an art museum's educational program, we show that students' exposure to a cultural institution has the effect of creating ''cultural consumers'' motivated to acquire new cultural capital. We find that the experience has the strongest impact on students from more disadvantaged backgrounds. As such, our analysis reveals important aspects about the nature of cultural capital acquisition. To the extent that the evidence supporting cultural mobility is accurate, it may be because disadvantaged children can be activated to acquire cultural capital, thus compensating for family background characteristics and changing their habitus.

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Third-Party Governance and Performance Measurement: A Case Study of Publicly Funded Private School Vouchers

Deven Carlson, Joshua Cowen & David Fleming
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, October 2014, Pages 897-922

Abstract:
This article considers the introduction of a performance measurement reform for private schools serving students who receive state-provided vouchers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Drawing on unique panel data collected both before and after the reform, we show that private sector performance increased significantly when outcomes were publicly reported. We frame these results in the context of third-party provision of public services and argue that our evidence suggests that market-based competition alone may not drive nongovernmental providers to perform at optimal levels. Instead, such vendors may require performance-monitoring schemes similar to those faced by their governmental counterparts.

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Temporal effects of antecedent exercise on students' disruptive behaviors: An exploratory study

Anthony Folino, Joseph Ducharme & Naomi Greenwald
Journal of School Psychology, October 2014, Pages 447-462

Abstract:
Although a growing body of literature indicates that antecedent exercise is effective at reducing disruptive behaviors, there is a paucity of research examining the temporal effects of antecedent exercise. The present investigation involved 4 students (age range 11 to 14 years) enrolled in a self-contained special education behavior classroom due to severe aggressive, disruptive, and oppositional behaviors. In an alternating treatment design with baseline, students were first exposed to baseline conditions and then to 2 experimental conditions (i.e., an antecedent exercise condition and a control condition) in a randomized fashion. Results indicated that 30 min of moderate to intense aerobic exercise resulted in approximately 90 min of behavioral improvements. In addition, there appeared to be an inverse relation between arousal levels and behavioral difficulties. The potential utility of antecedent exercise as a treatment alternative in schools for students with severe disruptive behavior is discussed.

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Does higher peer socio-economic status predict children's language and executive function skills gains in prekindergarten?

Christina Weiland & Hirokazu Yoshikawa
Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, September-October 2014, Pages 422-432

Abstract:
Because most public preschool programs are means tested, children enrolled in these programs accordingly have peers from predominantly low-income families who present lower cognitive skills and more behavioral problems, on average. The present study examined the role of having a higher percentage of peers from higher-SES families on gains in children's receptive vocabulary and executive function skills at the end of prekindergarten. Participants included 417 children attending a prekindergarten program that is not means tested. Findings indicated that having a higher percentage of peers from higher-SES families showed small, positive associations with greater gains in end-of-prekindergarten receptive vocabulary and executive function skills. Results are discussed in the context of current proposals to increase access to publicly funded preschool for higher-income families.

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Linking Student Performance in Massachusetts Elementary Schools with the "Greenness" of School Surroundings Using Remote Sensing

Chih-Da Wu et al.
PLoS ONE, October 2014

Abstract:
Various studies have reported the physical and mental health benefits from exposure to "green" neighborhoods, such as proximity to neighborhoods with trees and vegetation. However, no studies have explicitly assessed the association between exposure to "green" surroundings and cognitive function in terms of student academic performance. This study investigated the association between the "greenness" of the area surrounding a Massachusetts public elementary school and the academic achievement of the school's student body based on standardized tests with an ecological setting. Researchers used the composite school-based performance scores generated by the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) to measure the percentage of 3rd-grade students (the first year of standardized testing for 8-9 years-old children in public school), who scored "Above Proficient" (AP) in English and Mathematics tests (Note: Individual student scores are not publically available). The MCAS results are comparable year to year thanks to an equating process. Researchers included test results from 2006 through 2012 in 905 public schools and adjusted for differences between schools in the final analysis according to race, gender, English as a second language (proxy for ethnicity and language facility), parent income, student-teacher ratio, and school attendance. Surrounding greenness of each school was measured using satellite images converted into the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in March, July and October of each year according to a 250-meter, 500-meter, 1,000-meter, and 2000-meter circular buffer around each school. Spatial Generalized Linear Mixed Models (GLMMs) estimated the impacts of surrounding greenness on school-based performance. Overall the study results supported a relationship between the "greenness" of the school area and the school-wide academic performance. Interestingly, the results showed a consistently positive significant association between the greenness of the school in the Spring (when most Massachusetts students take the MCAS tests) and school-wide performance on both English and Math tests, even after adjustment for socio-economic factors and urban residency.

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The Impact of No Child Left Behind's Accountability Sanctions on School Performance: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from North Carolina

Thomas Ahn & Jacob Vigdor
NBER Working Paper, September 2014

Abstract:
Comparisons of schools that barely meet or miss criteria for adequate yearly progress (AYP) reveal that some sanctions built into the No Child Left Behind accountability regime exert positive impacts on students. Estimates indicate that the strongest positive effects associate with the ultimate sanction: leadership and management changes associated with school restructuring. We find suggestive incentive effects in schools first entering the NCLB sanction regime, but no significant effects of intermediate sanctions. Further analysis shows that gains in sanctioned schools are concentrated among low-performing students, with the exception of gains from restructuring which are pervasive. We find no evidence that schools achieve gains among low-performing students by depriving high-performing students of resources.

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Resisting Charters: A Comparative Policy Development Analysis of Washington and Kentucky, 2002-2012

Joseph Johnston
Sociology of Education, October 2014, Pages 223-240

Abstract:
Over the past two decades, most states have adopted laws enabling charter schools, as charter advocates successfully presented charters as the solution to core problems in urban public education. Yet some states with large urban centers, notably Washington and Kentucky, resisted this seemingly inexorable trend for years. What explains their resistance? Furthermore, why did Washington - a state with a strong teachers' union and long-standing Democratic political control (resources for charter resistance identified in prior research) - ultimately adopt charters in 2012 while Kentucky has not? I use comparative-historical narrative analysis to trace differences in charter battles in the urban centers of the two states. I find that supporters framed charters as the solution in both cases but varied in their ability to name public schools as the problem in the first place. I identify the source of the discursive resources used by opponents of charter schools in state-level ''educational ecosystems'': the cultural and institutional legacies of a range of state educational policies.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Sunday, October 26, 2014

On strike

Violent Movies and Severe Acts of Violence: Sensationalism Versus Science

Patrick Markey, Juliana French & Charlotte Markey
Human Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Violent media has often been blamed for severe violent acts. Following recent findings that violence in movies has increased substantially over the last few decades, this research examined whether such increases were related to trends in severe acts of violence. Annual rates of movie violence and gun violence in movies were compared to homicide and aggravated assault rates between the years of 1960 and 2012. Time series analyses found that violent films were negatively, although nonsignificantly, related to homicides and aggravated assaults. These nonsignificant negative relations remained present even after controlling for various extraneous variables. Results suggest that caution is warranted when generalizing violent media research, conducted primarily in laboratories and via questionnaires, to societal trends in violent behavior.

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Gene by Social-Environment Interaction for Youth Delinquency and Violence: Thirty-Nine Aggression-Related Genes

Hexuan Liu, Yi Li & Guang Guo
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
Complex human traits are likely to be affected by many environmental and genetic factors, and the interactions among them. However, previous gene-environment interaction (G × E) studies have typically focused on one or only a few genetic variants at a time. To provide a broader view of G × E, this study examines the relationship between 403 genetic variants from 39 genes and youth delinquency and violence. We find evidence that low social control is associated with greater genetic risk for delinquency and violence and high/moderate social control with smaller genetic risk for delinquency and violence. Our findings are consistent with prior G × E studies based on a small number of genetic variants, and more importantly, we show that these findings still hold when a large number of genetic variants are considered simultaneously. A key implication of these findings is that the expression of multiple genes related to delinquency depends on the social environment: gene expression is likely to be amplified in low-social-control environments but tends to be suppressed in high/moderate-social-control environments. This study not only deepens our understanding of how the social environment shapes individual behavior, but also provides important conceptual and methodological insights for future G × E research on complex human traits.

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The Role of Neighborhood Income Inequality in Adolescent Aggression and Violence

Roman Pabayo, Beth Molnar & Ichiro Kawachi
Journal of Adolescent Health, October 2014, Pages 571–579

Purpose: Being a perpetrator or victim of assaults can have detrimental effects on the development and health of adolescents. Area-level income inequality has been suggested to be associated with crime and aggressive behavior. However, most prior research on this association has been ecological. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to describe the association between neighborhood-level income inequality and aggression and violence outcomes.

Methods: Data were collected from a sample of 1,878 adolescents living in 38 neighborhoods participating in the 2008 Boston Youth Survey. We used multilevel logistic regression models to estimate the association between neighborhood income inequality and attacking someone with a weapon, being attacked by someone with a weapon, being physically assaulted, being shown a gun by someone in the neighborhood, shot at by someone in the neighborhood, witnessing someone getting murdered in the past year, and having a close family member or friend murdered. Race and income inequality cross-level interactions were tested. Analyses were stratified by sex.

Results: Among nonblack boys, after adjusting for nativity, age, neighborhood-level income, crime, disorder, and proportion of the neighborhood that is black, income inequality was associated with an increased risk for committing acts of aggression and being a victim of violence. Among nonblack girls, those living in neighborhoods with high-income inequality were more likely to witness someone die a violent death in the previous year, in comparison to those in more equal neighborhoods.

Conclusions: Income inequality appears to be related to aggression and victimization outcomes among nonblack adolescents living in Boston.

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Spite and cognitive skills in preschoolers

Elisabeth Bügelmayer & Katharina Spiess
Journal of Economic Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Other-regarding preferences in adults have been examined in depth in the literature. Research has shown that spiteful preferences play a crucial role in the development of human large-scale cooperation. However, there is little evidence of the factors explaining spiteful behavior in children. We investigate the relationship between children’s cognitive skills and spiteful behavior in a sample of 214 preschoolers aged 5-6 and their mothers. Here, other-regarding behavior in children is elicited through four simple allocation decisions. A key advantage of our study is that we have information about children’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills and health as well as maternal and household characteristics. We find that higher cognitive skills are associated with more spiteful behavior in children. This relationship is even more pronounced among boys. Moreover, we find further gender differences that depend on the measure of cognitive skills and the degree of spite displayed.

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Assailing the Competition: Sexual Selection, Proximate Mating Motives, and Aggressive Behavior in Men

Sarah Ainsworth & Jon Maner
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Throughout history, men have tended to be more violent than women. Evolutionary theories suggest that this sex difference derives in part from their historically greater need to compete with other men over access to potential mates. In the current research, men and women (Experiment 1) or men only (Experiments 2 and 3) underwent a mating motive prime or control prime, and then performed a task designed to measure aggression toward a same-sex partner. The mating prime increased aggression among men, but not women (Experiment 1). Furthermore, mating-related increases in aggression were directed only toward men who were depicted as viable intrasexual rivals, including a dominant (vs. non-dominant) male partner (Experiment 2) and a man who was depicted as single (versus married) and looking for a mate (Experiment 3). This research provides a picture of male intrasexual aggression as highly selective and aimed strategically at asserting one’s dominance over sexual rivals.

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Violent Video Games and Reciprocity: The Attenuating Effects of Cooperative Game Play on Subsequent Aggression

John Velez et al.
Communication Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Numerous studies have shown that playing violent video games alone increases subsequent aggression. However, social game play is becoming more popular than solo game play, and research suggests cooperative game play is beneficial for players. The current studies explore the effects of cooperative game play on player’s subsequent aggressive behaviors toward video game partners (Experiment 1) and non-video game partners (Experiment 2), while providing a discussion of possible theories applicable to social video game play. Cooperative games resulted in less aggression between video game partners (Experiment 1) and between non-video game partners (Experiment 2) than did competitive or stand-alone games. Interestingly, cooperative game play and no-game play produced similar levels of aggression (Experiment 1), whereas competitive and solo game play produced similar levels of aggression (Experiment 2). These findings are consistent with the theory of bounded generalized reciprocity. Playing violent games cooperatively can offset the aggression-increasing effects of violent video games.

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Video games and prosocial behavior: A study of the effects of non-violent, violent and ultra-violent gameplay

Morgan Tear & Mark Nielsen
Computers in Human Behavior, December 2014, Pages 8–13

Abstract:
Experimental evidence has pointed toward a negative effect of violent video games on social behavior. Given that the availability and presence of video games is pervasive, negative effects from playing them have potentially large implications for public policy. It is, therefore, important that violent video game effects are thoroughly and experimentally explored, with the current experiment focusing on prosocial behavior. 120 undergraduate volunteers (Mage = 19.01, 87.5% male) played an ultra-violent, violent, or non-violent video game and were then assessed on two distinct measures of prosocial behavior: how much they donated to a charity and how difficult they set a task for an ostensible participant. It was hypothesized that participants playing the ultra-violent games would show the least prosocial behavior and those playing the non-violent game would show the most. These hypotheses were not supported, with participants responding in similar ways, regardless of the type of game played. While null effects are difficult to interpret, samples of this nature (undergraduate volunteers, high male skew) may be problematic, and participants were possibly sensitive to the hypothesis at some level, this experiment adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that violent video game effects are less clear than initially thought.

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The Face–Time Continuum: Lifespan Changes in Facial Width-to-Height Ratio Impact Aging-Associated Perceptions

Eric Hehman, Jordan Leitner & Jonathan Freeman
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Aging influences how a person is perceived on multiple dimensions (e.g., physical power). Here we examined how facial structure informs these evolving social perceptions. Recent work examining young adults’ faces has revealed the impact of the facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) on perceived traits, such that individuals with taller, thinner faces are perceived to be less aggressive, less physically powerful, and friendlier. These perceptions are similar to those stereotypically associated with older adults. Examining whether fWHR might contribute to these changing perceptions over the life span, we found that age provides a shifting context through which fWHR differentially impacts aging-related social perceptions (Study 1). In addition, archival analyses (Study 2) established that fWHR decreases across age, and a subsequent study found that fWHR mediated the relationship between target age and multiple aging-related perceptions (Study 3). The findings provide evidence that fWHR decreases across age and influences stereotypical perceptions that change with age.

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Adulthood Animal Abuse Among Men Arrested for Domestic Violence

Jeniimarie Febres et al.
Violence Against Women, September 2014, Pages 1059-1077

Abstract:
Learning more about intimate partner violence (IPV), perpetrators could aid the development of more effective treatments. The prevalence of adulthood animal abuse (AAA) perpetration and its association with IPV perpetration, antisociality, and alcohol use in 307 men arrested for domestic violence were examined. Forty-one percent (n = 125) of the men committed at least one act of animal abuse since the age of 18, in contrast to the 1.5% prevalence rate reported by men in the general population. Controlling for antisociality and alcohol use, AAA showed a trend toward a significant association with physical and severe psychological IPV perpetration.

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Bitter Taste Causes Hostility

Christina Sagioglou & Tobias Greitemeyer
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research tested the novel hypothesis that bitter taste increases hostility. Theoretical background formed the intimate link of the taste-sensory system to the visceral system, with bitter intake typically eliciting a strong aversion response. Three experiments using differential bitter and control stimuli showed that hostile affect and behavior is increased by bitter taste experiences. Specifically, participants who consumed a bitter (vs. control) drink showed an increase in self-reported current hostility (Experiment 1), in hypothetical aggressive affect and hypothetical aggressive behavior (Experiment 2) and in actual hostile behavior assessed using a well-established method for non-physical laboratory aggression (Experiment 3). Furthermore, the effect occurred not only when participants were previously provoked (Experiments 2 and 3) but also when no provocation preceded (Experiment 1 and 3). Importantly, stimulus aversiveness and intensity did not influence the effects observed, ruling them out as explanations. Alternative interpretative frameworks and limitations are discussed.

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Moral disengagement in the legitimation and realization of aggressive behavior in soccer and ice hockey

Alan Traclet et al.
Aggressive Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The aim of the present study was to verify that the level of tolerance for aggression is higher in a collective context than in an individual context (polarization effect), and to test the association between moral disengagement, team and self-attitudes toward aggression, and tolerance and realization of aggressive acts in Swiss male soccer and ice hockey. In individual or collective answering conditions, 104 soccer and 98 ice hockey players viewed videotaped aggressive acts and completed a questionnaire, including measures of the perceived legitimacy of videotaped aggression, of the teammates, coach, and self attitudes toward transgressions (modified TNQ), of the moral disengagement in sport (modified MDSS-S), and of self-reported aggressive behavior. A multilevel analysis confirmed a strong polarization effect on the perception of instrumental aggression, the videotaped aggressive acts appearing more tolerated in the collective than in the individual answering condition. Using a structural equation modeling, we found that the moral disengagement, which mediates the effects of perceived coach and ego attitudes toward transgressions, correlates positively with the tolerance of hostile aggression within teams, and with the level of aggressive acts reported by the participants.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sex ed

Human preferences for sexually dimorphic faces may be evolutionarily novel

Isabel Scott et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 7 October 2014, Pages 14388-14393

Abstract:
A large literature proposes that preferences for exaggerated sex typicality in human faces (masculinity/femininity) reflect a long evolutionary history of sexual and social selection. This proposal implies that dimorphism was important to judgments of attractiveness and personality in ancestral environments. It is difficult to evaluate, however, because most available data come from large-scale, industrialized, urban populations. Here, we report the results for 12 populations with very diverse levels of economic development. Surprisingly, preferences for exaggerated sex-specific traits are only found in the novel, highly developed environments. Similarly, perceptions that masculine males look aggressive increase strongly with development and, specifically, urbanization. These data challenge the hypothesis that facial dimorphism was an important ancestral signal of heritable mate value. One possibility is that highly developed environments provide novel opportunities to discern relationships between facial traits and behavior by exposing individuals to large numbers of unfamiliar faces, revealing patterns too subtle to detect with smaller samples.

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Casual Contraception in Casual Sex: Life-Cycle Change in Undergraduates' Sexual Behavior in Hookups

Jonathan Bearak
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article describes life-cycle change in the sexual behavior of undergraduates in "hookups" (which are outside traditional dates or relationships) during years 1-4 of college, explains a decline in the use of condoms, and shows how changes in the odds of coitus and condom use depend on family background, school gender imbalance, and whether the partners attend the same college. Coitus becomes increasingly likely as students progress through college. Condom-use rates, in contrast, decline precipitously between the freshman and sophomore years, before stabilizing. This rapid normalization of unprotected sex in hookups arises as students adapt to a high-education culture. Condom-use rates in the freshman year are lowest among students who have the most highly educated mothers. After the freshman year, students with lower-educated mothers converge to the same lower rate. This decline is pronounced when the partners attend the same college. Implications for health and social policy are discussed.

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A Noncausal Relation Between Casual Sex in Adolescence and Early Adult Depression and Suicidal Ideation: A Longitudinal Discordant Twin Study

Arielle Deutsch & Wendy Slutske
Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research on relations between casual sex and mental health is inconclusive; while some studies indicate casual sex may lead to more negative mental health (e.g., depression), other studies report no such relationship. Using a genetically informed approach, this study examined whether earlier casual sex (i.e., ever engaging in casual sex and number of casual sex partners) in adolescence has a causal influence on later mental health in young adulthood (i.e., depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation), as well as the reverse relationship (adolescent negative mental health on young adult casual sex) by exploiting the quasi-experimental nature of discordant-twin models. Multilevel models that measured within-twin and between-twin pair effects of adolescent casual sex were estimated, using 714 twins (357 twin pairs) from the sibling subsample of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Results indicated that there was no causal relationship between casual sex in adolescence and higher levels of depressive symptoms or suicidal ideation in young adulthood, and these effects did not differ by gender. There were also no causal relations between adolescent depressive symptoms or suicidal ideation and casual sexual experience in young adulthood. Implications for ways to increase scientific rigor by using different methods (e.g., genetically informed analyses) are discussed.

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Influence of Sexually Degrading Music on Men's Perceptions of Women's Dating-Relevant Cues

Teresa Treat et al.
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study examined the influence of manipulated and naturalistic exposure to sexually degrading music on young men's perceptions of women's dating-relevant affective cues. Three hundred ninety-seven undergraduate heterosexual men completed an affect-identification task in which they judged whether women communicated sexual interest, friendliness, sadness, or rejection. Either sexually degrading popular music, non-sexually degrading popular music, or no music played on headphones. Participants completed questionnaires assessing music-listening habits and rape-supportive attitudes. Manipulated exposure to degrading music did not affect men's sensitivities to or biases for women's cues. In contrast, men who reported greater naturalistic exposure to rap and hip-hop music and who endorsed more rape-supportive attitudes were more likely to perceive women's positive affect as sexual interest, if the women were provocatively dressed. On balance, these findings are largely inconsistent with theoretical expectations regarding the deleterious effects of sexually degrading music on attitudes and concurrent social perception.

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Self-enhancement biases, self-esteem, and ideal mate preferences

Margaret Brown & Jonathon Brown
Personality and Individual Differences, February 2015, Pages 61-65

Abstract:
People seek ideal romantic partners who are similar to themselves. In this research, we tested whether this preference reflects a self-enhancement bias. Study 1 (N = 40) found that people who like themselves a lot (i.e., high self-esteem people) were more likely to describe their ideal romantic partner in terms that matched their self-evaluations than were people whose self-feelings are more ambivalent (i.e., low self-esteem people). Study 2 (N = 141) extended these findings by showing that low self-esteem participants who had just been given positive feedback about themselves were just as apt as high self-esteem participants to describe their ideal romantic partner in terms that matched their self-descriptions. Taken together, these findings suggest that the more that people like themselves, the more they will desire an ideal romantic partner who is just like them.

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Objects become her: The role of mortality salience on men's attraction to literally objectified women

Kasey Lynn Morris & Jamie Goldenberg
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, January 2015, Pages 69-72

Abstract:
From the perspective of terror management theory, men's attraction to women poses a threat in the context of salient mortality concerns. We hypothesized that literal objectification - associating women with (non-mortal) objects - reduces this threat. Reactions to advertisements featuring sexually provocative women merged with objects (e.g., a woman merged with a bottle of beer), or control ads in which the women were separated from the objects, were examined in conjunction with a mortality salience manipulation. Replicating previous research (Landau et al., 2006), men, but not women, reported lower attractiveness ratings for the (non-merged) woman in response to a morality reminder. In contrast, men's attractiveness ratings for the merged (i.e., literally objectified) woman increased when mortality was salient. Further, men primed with mortality reported higher attractiveness ratings for the merged woman, compared to the same woman depicted as separate from an object. These findings help explain the prevalence and appeal of literal objectification, and provide evidence of its existential function.

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Sweet love: The effects of sweet taste experience on romantic perceptions

Dongning Ren et al.
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

Abstract:
Terms of endearment such as "sweetie," "honey," and "sugar" are commonly used in the context of describing romantic partners. This article explores how a relatively subtle manipulation, namely taste sensations, might influence romantic perceptions of a nonestablished relationship. Consistent with predictions, results from Studies 1 and 2 (n = 280) showed that participants evaluated a hypothetical relationship, but not an existing relationship, more favorably when exposed to sweet taste compared to non-sweet taste control. Study 3 (n = 142) further showed that participants indicated greater interest in initiating a relationship with a potential partner when exposed to sweet taste, as compared to control participants. Implications for the role of sweet taste experiences in attraction and relationship initiation are discussed.

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Fertile women are more demanding: Ovulatory increases in minimum mate preference criteria across a wide range of characteristics and relationship contexts

David Beaulieu & Kristina Havens
Personality and Individual Differences, January 2015, Pages 200-207

Abstract:
The ovulatory shift hypothesis (Gangestad, Thornhill, & Garver-Apgar, 2005) makes three predictions. First, it posits that during peak fertility, women are more attracted to males who display characteristics of good genes. Secondly, it predicts that women predominantly experience ovulatory shifts when evaluating males as short-term sexual partners. Lastly, it predicts that ovulatory shifts should be non-existent when measuring mate preferences associated with long-term partner quality. However given that female preferences are formulated as a means to offset costs associated with reproduction (Buss, 1994) and such costs are more likely to be incurred during peak fertility, the current study (via the ovulatory reproductive safeguards hypothesis) posits that women during peak fertility should show a general increase in their mate preference criteria across a variety of characteristics and relationships. Using a within-subjects design and hormonal markers of fertility status, the present study investigates the degree to which ovulatory shifts in preferences are limited to short-term sexual liaisons and the degree to which such shifts are associated with characteristics related to long-term partner quality. Contrary to the ovulatory shift hypothesis (and in support of the ovulatory reproductive safeguards hypothesis), ovulatory shifts were found across a wide range of relationship contexts and preference characteristics.

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Observer age and the social transmission of attractiveness in humans: Younger women are more influenced by the choices of popular others than older women

Anthony Little et al.
British Journal of Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Being paired with an attractive partner increases perceptual judgements of attractiveness in humans. We tested experimentally for prestige bias, whereby individuals follow the choices of prestigious others. Women rated the attractiveness of photographs of target males which were paired with either popular or less popular model female partners. We found that pairing a photo of a man with a woman presented as his partner positively influenced the attractiveness of the man when the woman was presented as more popular (Experiment 1). Further, this effect was stronger in younger participants compared to older participants (Experiment 1). Reversing the target and model such that women were asked to rate women paired with popular and less popular men revealed no effect of model popularity and this effect was unrelated to participant age (Experiment 2). An additional experiment confirmed that participant age and not stimulus age primarily influenced the tendency to follow others' preferences in Experiment 1 (Experiment 3). We also confirmed that our manipulations of popularity lead to variation in rated prestige (Experiment 4). These results suggest a sophisticated model-based bias in social learning whereby individuals are most influenced by the choices of those who have high popularity/prestige. Furthermore, older individuals moderate their use of such social information and so this form of social learning appears strongest in younger women.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Friday, October 24, 2014

Integral

Human Capital Spillovers in Families: Do Parents Learn from or Lean on Their Children?

Ilyana Kuziemko
Journal of Labor Economics, October 2014, Pages 755-786

Abstract:
I model how children's acquisition of a given form of human capital incentivizes adults in their household to either learn from them (if children can teach the skill to adults, adults' cost of learning falls) or lean on them (if children's human capital substitutes for that of adults in household production, adults' benefit from learning falls). Using variation in compliance with an English-immersion mandate in California schools, I find that English instruction improved immigrant children's English proficiency but discouraged adults living with them from acquiring the language. Whether family members "learn" or "lean" affects the externalities associated with education policies.

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Reclassification Patterns Among Latino English Learner Students in Bilingual, Dual Immersion, and English Immersion Classrooms

Ilana Umansky & Sean Reardon
American Educational Research Journal, October 2014, Pages 879-912

Abstract:
Schools are under increasing pressure to reclassify their English learner (EL) students to "fluent English proficient" status as quickly as possible. This article examines timing to reclassification among Latino ELs in four distinct linguistic instructional environments: English immersion, transitional bilingual, maintenance bilingual, and dual immersion. Using hazard analysis and 12 years of data from a large school district, the study investigates whether reclassification timing, patterns, or barriers differ by linguistic program. We find that Latino EL students enrolled in two-language programs are reclassified at a slower pace in elementary school but have higher overall reclassification, English proficiency, and academic threshold passage by the end of high school. We discuss the implications of these findings for accountability policies and educational opportunities in EL programs.

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Immigration Enforcement, Policing, and Crime: Evidence from the Secure Communities Program

Elina Treyger, Aaron Chalfin & Charles Loeffler
Criminology & Public Policy, May 2014, Pages 285-322

Abstract:
In 2008, the federal government introduced "Secure Communities," a program that requires local law enforcement agencies to share arrestee information with federal immigration officials. We employed the staggered activation of Secure Communities to examine whether this program has an effect on crime or the behavior of local police. Supporters of the program argue that it enhances public safety by facilitating the removal of criminal aliens. Critics worry that it will encourage discriminatory policing. We found little evidence for the most ambitious promises of the program or for its critics' greatest fears.

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Criminal epidemiology and the immigrant paradox: Intergenerational discontinuity in violence and antisocial behavior among immigrants

Michael Vaughn et al.
Journal of Criminal Justice, November-December 2014, Pages 483-490

Purpose: A growing number of studies have examined the immigrant paradox with respect to antisocial behavior and crime in the United States. However, there remains a need for a comprehensive examination of the intergenerational nature of violence and antisocial behavior among immigrants using population-based samples.

Methods: The present study, employing data from Wave I and II data of the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), sought to address these gaps by examining the prevalence of nonviolent criminal and violent antisocial behavior among first, second, and third-generation immigrants and compare these to the prevalence found among non-immigrants and each other in the United States.

Results: There is clear evidence of an intergenerational severity-based gradient in the relationship between immigrant status and antisocial behavior and crime. The protective effect of nativity is far-and-away strongest among first-generation immigrants, attenuates substantially among second-generation immigrants, and essentially disappears among third-generation immigrants. These patterns were also stable across gender.

Conclusion: The present study is among the first to examine the intergenerational nature of antisocial behavior and crime among immigrants using population-based samples. Results provide robust evidence that nativity as a protective factor for immigrants wanes with each successive generation.

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Racially Charged Legislation and Latino Health Disparities: The Case of Arizona's S.B. 1070

Kathryn Freeman Anderson & Jessie Finch
Sociological Spectrum, November/December 2014, Pages 526-548

Abstract:
Researchers have established that minority groups tend to suffer worse health outcomes compared to their white counterparts, though the specific mechanisms at play are still under investigation. The passing of Arizona's 2010 "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act," commonly referred to as "S.B. 1070," provides a unique opportunity to examine the effects of an increasingly racially charged milieu on Latino health. Using the Arizona sample of the 2009-2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, we find that the changing social setting around S.B. 1070 is related to poorer Latino self-reported health, but only for those whose primary language is Spanish. Furthermore, serving as control groups, we find no such relationship in other U.S.-Mexico border states that had no analogous legislation (Texas, New Mexico, and California). We expand on stress process theory and group position theory to explain this increase in Arizona's negative health reporting, despite traditional social and economic protective factors.

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Pathways between acculturation and health behaviors among residents of low-income housing: The mediating role of social and contextual factors

Jennifer Allen et al.
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Abstract:
Acculturation may influence health behaviors, yet mechanisms underlying its effect are not well understood. In this study, we describe relationships between acculturation and health behaviors among low-income housing residents, and examine whether these relationships are mediated by social and contextual factors. Residents of 20 low-income housing sites in the Boston metropolitan area completed surveys that assessed acculturative characteristics, social/contextual factors, and health behaviors. A composite acculturation scale was developed using latent class analysis, resulting in four distinct acculturative groups. Path analysis was used to examine interrelationships between acculturation, health behaviors, and social/contextual factors, specifically self-reported social ties, social support, stress, material hardship, and discrimination. Of the 828 respondents, 69% were born outside of the U.S. Less acculturated groups exhibited healthier dietary practices and were less likely to smoke than more acculturated groups. Acculturation had a direct effect on diet and smoking, but not physical activity. Acculturation also showed an indirect effect on diet through its relationship with material hardship. Our finding that material hardship mediated the relationship between acculturation and diet suggests the need to explicate the significant role of financial resources in interventions seeking to promote healthy diets among low-income immigrant groups. Future research should examine these social and contextual mediators using larger, population-based samples, preferably with longitudinal data.

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The Effect of Community Linguistic Isolation on Language-Minority Student Achievement in High School

Timothy Arthur Drake
Educational Researcher, October 2014, Pages 327-340

Abstract:
Research on language-minority student outcomes has revealed sizeable and persistent achievement gaps. The reasons for these gaps are often closely linked with other factors related to underperformance, including generational status, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Using sociocultural second-language acquisition theories and community linguistic capital as a theoretical frame, this study builds upon the extant literature to examine the relationship between community linguistic isolation and language-minority 10th-grade student achievement outcomes. I find that language minority achievement gaps are three to five tenths of a standard deviation in reading and math but that the effect is attenuated by increased levels of linguistic isolation. These results appear robust to a number of specifications. Possible reasons for the attenuation are also discussed.

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Naturalization Fosters the Long-Term Political Integration of Immigrants

Jens Hainmueller, Dominik Hangartner & Giuseppe Pietrantuono
Stanford Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Does naturalization lead to a better political integration of immigrants into the host society? Despite heated debates about citizenship policy, there exists almost no causal evidence that isolates the independent effect of naturalization from the non-random selection into naturalization. We provide new evidence from a natural experiment in Switzerland where some municipalities use secret ballot referendums as the mechanism to decide naturalization requests. Balance checks suggest that for naturalization referendums, which are decided by a thin vote margin, the naturalization decision is as good as random so that narrowly rejected and narrowly approved immigrant applicants are very similar on all confounding characteristics. This allows us to remove selection effects and obtain unbiased estimates of the long-term impacts of citizenship. The analysis suggests that getting the Swiss passport considerably improved the political integration of immigrants, including increases in formal political participation, political knowledge, and political efficacy.

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Ethnic Diversity, Economic and Cultural Contexts, and Social Trust: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Evidence from European Regions, 2002-2010

Conrad Ziller
Social Forces, forthcoming

Abstract:
A growing literature investigates the relationship between ethnic diversity and social trust. Comparative research in the European context employing country-level indicators has predominantly produced inconclusive results. This study examines the relationship between immigration-related diversity and social trust at the sub-national level of European regions. The regional perspective allows the capture of relevant variations in ethnic context while it still generates comparable results for a broader European context. Using survey data from the European Social Survey 2002-2010 merged with immigration figures from the European Labour Force Survey, this study builds upon previous research by testing the relationships between various diversity indicators and social trust in cross-sectional and longitudinal perspective. In addition, it investigates the role of economic and cultural contexts as moderators. The results show that across European regions, different aspects of immigration-related diversity are negatively related to social trust. In longitudinal perspective, an increase in immigration is related to a decrease in social trust. Tests of the conditional hypotheses reveal that regional economic growth and ethnic polarization as a cultural context moderate the relationship. Immigration growth is particularly strongly associated with a decrease in social trust in contexts of economic decline and high ethnic polarization. However, there is some evidence that in contexts of low polarization the relationship is actually positive.

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Two Decades of Negative Educational Selectivity of Mexican Migrants to the United States

Michael Rendall & Susan Parker
Population and Development Review, September 2014, Pages 421-446

Abstract:
Immigration is commonly considered to be selective of more educated individuals. Previous US studies comparing the educational attainment of Mexican immigrants in the United States to that of the Mexican resident population support this characterization. Upward educational-attainment biases in both coverage and measurement, however, may be substantial in US data sources. Moreover, differences in educational attainment by place size are very large within Mexico, and US data sources provide no information on immigrants' places of origin within Mexico. To address these problems, we use multiple sources of nationally representative Mexican survey data to re-evaluate the educational selectivity of working-age Mexican migrants to the United States over the 1990s and 2000s. We document disproportionately rural and small-urban-area origins of Mexican migrants and a steep positive gradient of educational attainment by place size. We show that together these conditions induced strongly negative educational selection of Mexican migrants throughout the 1990s and 2000s. We interpret this finding as consistent with low returns to education among unauthorized migrants and few opportunities for authorized migration.

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The role of social desirability bias and racial/ethnic composition on the relation between education and attitude toward immigration restrictionism

Brian An
Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
Social scientists note individuals tend to respond favorably to sensitive topics in surveys, but few consider factors triggering these responses. This study uses unique data to examine respondents' racial/ethnic attitude under direct and indirect modes of elicitation. In particular, the list experiment provides a cloak of anonymity to a random subsample of individuals that allows them to respond truthfully about their racial/ethnic attitudes. By comparing responses between administration modes, this study evaluates whether social desirability pressures mediate, and racial/ethnic composition moderate, the relation between education and racial/ethnic attitudes. Findings indicate an initial positive relation between education and racial/ethnic attitudes, but desirability bias mainly drives this relation. Furthermore, there is some support racial/ethnic composition moderates the influence of social desirability on education.

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Undocumented Immigrant Threat and Support for Social Controls

Ted Chiricos et al.
Social Problems, November 2014, Pages 673-692

Abstract:
Popular support for enhanced border and internal controls to deal with undocumented immigration is examined in relation to contextual measures of group threat as well as perceived levels of cultural and economic threat posed by undocumented immigrants. Results from a national survey of non-Latino respondents (N = 1,364) indicate that presumed threatening context measured in static terms is inconsequential. But when context is measured in dynamic terms that also reflect dispersion and potential contact, it significantly predicts support for border controls. Perceived threats are stronger predictors of support for enhanced controls than either contextual indicators of presumed threat or individual characteristics of respondents. Results also show that perceived economic and cultural threats mediate the effects of individual respondent characteristics and dynamic contextual conditions as well. Implications for future research on immigrant threat emphasize the importance of context measured in both change and dispersion-related terms and responses to threat that distinguish alternative dimensions of control. Future work should also consider that perceptions of threat may not only have direct influence on immigration policy preferences but can mediate the effects of context and individual characteristics on those preferences.

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Pre- to Postimmigration Alcohol Use Trajectories Among Recent Latino Immigrants

Mariana Sanchez et al.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, forthcoming

Abstract:
The escalation of alcohol use among some Latino immigrant groups as their time in the United States increases has been well documented. Yet, little is known about the alcohol use behaviors of Latino immigrants before immigration. This prospective longitudinal study examines pre- to postimmigration alcohol use trajectories among a cohort of recent Latino immigrants. Retrospective preimmigration data were collected at baseline from a sample of 455 Cuban, South American, and Central American Latinos ages 18-34 who immigrated to the United States less than 1 year prior. Two follow-up assessments (12 months apart) reported on their postimmigration alcohol use in the past 90 days. We hypothesized (a) overall declines in pre- to postimmigration alcohol among recent Latino immigrants and (b) gender/documentation specific effects, with higher rates of alcohol use among males and undocumented participants compared to their female and documented counterparts. Growth curve analyses revealed males had higher levels of preimmigration alcohol use with steeper declines in postimmigration alcohol use compared to females. Declines in alcohol use frequency were observed for documented, but not undocumented males. No changes in pre- to postimmigration alcohol use were found for documented or undocumented females. This study contributes to the limited knowledge of pre- to postimmigration alcohol use patterns among Latinos in the United States. Future research is needed to identify social determinants associated with the alcohol use trajectories of recent Latino immigrants, as it may inform prediction, prevention, and treatment of problem-drinking behaviors among the largest and fastest growing ethnic minority in the United States.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In excess

The Impact of Large Container Beer Purchases on Alcohol-Related Fatal Vehicle Accidents

Omer Hoke & Chad Cotti
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using a fixed effect weighted least square model, we examine how changes in the share of beer purchases from large containers (>12 oz.) impact alcohol-related fatal accidents. We find that, after holding beer purchases and overall alcohol-consumption constant, an increase in total beer purchases from containers greater than the standard size of 12 oz. increases alcohol-related fatal accidents. We confirm our results persist across several investigations of robustness, as well as the use of instrument variables methods. Outcomes suggest that policy makers should consider differential excise taxes for the purchase of larger than standard size beer containers. Such a policy would likely reduce the number of alcohol-related fatal vehicle crashes and help to internalize the negative externalities associated with drunk driving. At the very minimum, these results suggest that individuals prone to dangerous levels of drunk driving are the consumers that most prefer large container size consumption. This is consistent with the idea that binge drinkers and beer drinkers are much more likely to drive while legally intoxicated.

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Distance to Cannabis Shops and Age of Onset of Cannabis Use

Ali Palali & Jan van Ours
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the Netherlands, cannabis use is quasi-legalized. Small quantities of cannabis can be bought in cannabis shops. We investigate how the distance to the nearest cannabis shop affects the age of onset of cannabis use. We use a mixed proportional hazard rate framework to take account of observable as well as unobservable characteristics that influence the uptake of cannabis. We find that distance matters. Individuals who grow up within 20km of a cannabis shop have a lower age of onset.

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Cannabis and creativity: Highly potent cannabis impairs divergent thinking in regular cannabis users

Mikael Kowal et al.
Psychopharmacology, forthcoming

Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the acute effects of cannabis on creativity.

Methods: We examined the effects of administering a low (5.5 mg delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]) or high (22 mg THC) dose of vaporized cannabis vs. placebo on creativity tasks tapping into divergent (Alternate Uses Task) and convergent (Remote Associates Task) thinking, in a population of regular cannabis users. The study used a randomized, double-blind, between-groups design.

Results: Participants in the high-dose group (n = 18) displayed significantly worse performance on the divergent thinking task, compared to individuals in both the low-dose (n = 18) and placebo (n = 18) groups.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that cannabis with low potency does not have any impact on creativity, while highly potent cannabis actually impairs divergent thinking.

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Seatbelt Use among Drunk Drivers in Different Legislative Settings

Scott Adams, Chad Cotti & Nathan Tefft
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract:
We present evidence from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System that shows increased seatbelt use following the concurrent presence of stricter blood alcohol content thresholds and primarily enforced seatbelt laws. This suggests that inebriated drivers may use their seat belts more judiciously to avoid being identified as a drunk driver by law enforcement. The interactive effect of stricter drunk driving laws and primary seatbelt laws are also shown to be more effective than either law passed in isolation in terms of reducing traffic fatalities.

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Assessing the Effects of Medical Marijuana Laws on Marijuana Use: The Devil is in the Details

Rosalie Pacula et al.
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper sheds light on previous inconsistencies identified in the literature regarding the relationship between medical marijuana laws (MMLs) and recreational marijuana use by closely examining the importance of policy dimensions (registration requirements, home cultivation, dispensaries) and the timing of when particular policy dimensions are enacted. Using data from our own legal analysis of state MMLs, we evaluate which features are associated with adult and youth recreational and heavy use by linking these policy variables to data from the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) and National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97). We employ differences-in-differences techniques, controlling for state and year fixed effects, allowing us to exploit within-state policy changes. We find that while simple dichotomous indicators of MML laws are not positively associated with marijuana use or abuse, such measures hide the positive influence legal dispensaries have on adult and youth use, particularly heavy use. Sensitivity analyses that help address issues of policy endogeneity and actual implementation of dispensaries support our main conclusion that not all MML laws are the same. Dimensions of these policies, in particular legal protection of dispensaries, can lead to greater recreational marijuana use and abuse among adults and those under the legal age of 21 relative to MMLs without this supply source.

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The Meth Project and Teen Meth Use: New Estimates from the National and State Youth Risk Behavior Surveys

Mark Anderson & David Elsea
Health Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In this note, we use data from the national and state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys for the period 1999 through 2011 to estimate the relationship between the Meth Project, an anti-methamphetamine advertising campaign, and meth use among high school students. During this period, a total of eight states adopted anti-meth advertising campaigns. After accounting for pre-existing downward trends in meth use, we find little evidence that the campaign curbed meth use in the full sample. We do find, however, some evidence that the Meth Project may have decreased meth use among White high school students.

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Effects of State Cigarette Excise Taxes and Smoke-Free Air Policies on State Per Capita Alcohol Consumption in the United States, 1980 to 2009

Melissa Krauss et al.
Alcoholism, forthcoming

Background: Increasing state cigarette excise taxes and strengthening smoke-free air (SFA) laws are known to reduce smoking prevalence. Some studies suggest that such policies may also reduce alcohol use, but results for cigarette taxes have been mixed, and associations with smoke-free air policies have been limited to some demographic subgroups. To shed further light on the potential secondary effects of tobacco control policy, we examined whether increases in cigarette taxes and strengthening of SFA laws were associated with reductions of per capita alcohol consumption and whether any reductions were specific to certain beverage types.

Methods: State per capita alcohol consumption from 1980 to 2009 was modeled as a function of state price per pack of cigarettes and SFA policy scores while controlling for secular trends and salient state covariates. Both policy measures also accounted for local policies. Total alcohol, beer, wine, and spirits consumption per capita were modeled separately. For each type of beverage, we used a nested models approach to determine whether the 2 policies together were associated with reduced consumption.

Results: For total alcohol consumption, and for beer or spirits (but not wine), one or both tobacco policies were associated with reductions in consumption. A 1% increase in cigarette price per pack was associated with a 0.083% decrease in per capita total alcohol consumption (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.0002 to 0.166, p = 0.0495), and a 1-point increase in SFA policy score, measured on a 6-point scale, was associated with a 1.1% decrease in per capita total alcohol consumption (95% CI 0.4 to 1.7, p = 0.001; p < 0.001 for the hypothesis that the 2 policies are jointly associated with reduced alcohol consumption).

Conclusions: The public health benefits of increasing cigarette taxes and smoke-free policies may go beyond the reduction of smoking and extend to alcohol consumption, specifically beer and spirits.

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Variation among states in prescribing of opioid pain relievers and benzodiazepines — United States, 2012

Leonard Paulozzi, Karin Mack & Jason Hockenberry
Journal of Safety Research, forthcoming

Introduction: Overprescribing of opioid pain relievers (OPR) can result in multiple adverse health outcomes, including fatal overdoses. Interstate variation in rates of prescribing OPR and other prescription drugs prone to abuse, such as benzodiazepines, might indicate areas where prescribing patterns need further evaluation.

Methods: CDC analyzed a commercial database (IMS Health) to assess the potential for improved prescribing of OPR and other drugs. CDC calculated state rates and measures of variation for OPR, long-acting/extended-release (LA/ER) OPR, high-dose OPR, and benzodiazepines.

Results: In 2012, prescribers wrote 82.5 OPR and 37.6 benzodiazepine prescriptions per 100 persons in the United States. State rates varied 2.7-fold for OPR and 3.7-fold for benzodiazepines. For both OPR and benzodiazepines, rates were higher in the South census region, and three Southern states were two or more standard deviations above the mean. Rates for LA/ER and high-dose OPR were highest in the Northeast. Rates varied 22-fold for one type of OPR, oxymorphone.

Conclusions: Factors accounting for the regional variation are unknown. Such wide variations are unlikely to be attributable to underlying differences in the health status of the population. High rates indicate the need to identify prescribing practices that might not appropriately balance pain relief and patient safety.

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Correlation between Cocaine Prices and Purity with Trends in Emergency Department Visits in a Major Metropolitan Area

He Zhu et al.
Journal of Urban Health, October 2014, Pages 1009-1018

Abstract:
Illicit drug use not only causes acute and chronic adverse health outcomes but also results in a significant burden to health care providers. The objective of this study is to examine the relationship between cocaine prices and purity with emergency department (ED) visits for the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet metropolitan area. Our primary outcome was number of cocaine-related ED visits per quarter provided by the Drug Abuse Warning Network. The predictor variables of cocaine purity and price were provided by the System to Retrieve Information from Drug Evidence database. Autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) regressions were used to estimate the effects of cocaine price and purity on cocaine-related ED visits. Although cocaine prices did not change substantially over time, cocaine purity decreased by over 30 % between 2006 and 2010. ARIMA regression results suggest that cocaine-related ED visits were not significantly associated with powder or crack cocaine prices; however, a decrease in powder cocaine purity was associated with 2,081 fewer ED visits overall from 2007 to 2010. The cocaine trade continues to be a major public health and law enforcement threat to large metropolitan cities like Chicago. Regular monitoring of cocaine purity levels may provide early warning of impending changes in cocaine-related ED visits for law enforcement and health care providers.

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‘I think he is immune to all the smoke I gave him’: How women account for the harm of smoking during pregnancy

Britta Wigginton & Michelle Lafrance
Health, Risk & Society, Summer 2014, Pages 530-546

Abstract:
Despite women’s awareness of the risks of smoking in pregnancy to the developing foetus, a significant minority continue to smoke during pregnancy. In this article, we use a discourse analytic approach to analyse interviews with 12 Australian women who smoked during a recent pregnancy. We used these data to examine how women accounted for their smoking and identities in the light of the implicit but ever-present discourse that smoking in pregnancy harms babies. We found that the women in our study deployed two rhetorical devices in their talk, ‘stacking the facts’ and ‘smoking for health’, allowing them to situate their smoking within a discourse of risk or as a potential benefit to their health. Women ‘stacked the facts’ by citing personal observable evidence (such as birthweight) to draw conclusions about the risks of smoking in pregnancy to the baby. ‘Stacking the facts’ allowed women to show how they had evaded the risks and their babies were healthy. This device also allowed women to deny or cast doubt over the risks of smoking in pregnancy. Women’s accounts of ‘smoking for health’ involved positioning quitting as stressful and, as a result, more harmful than continuing to smoke a reduced amount. We found complex and counter-intuitive ways in which women dealt with the discourse that smoking in pregnancy harms babies and how these ways of accounting served to protect their identities. We argue that health promotion messages conveying the risks of smoking in pregnancy would benefit from contextualising these messages within women’s personal accounts (e.g. by ‘stacking the facts’ or ‘smoking for health’) and hence providing more ‘realistic’ health risk messages.

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Alcohol and Emotional Contagion: An Examination of the Spreading of Smiles in Male and Female Drinking Groups

Catharine Fairbairn et al.
Clinical Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Researchers have hypothesized that men gain greater reward from alcohol than do women. However, alcohol-administration studies in which participants were tested when they were drinking alone have offered weak support for this hypothesis. Research has suggested that social processes may be implicated in gender differences in drinking patterns. We examined the impact of gender and alcohol on “emotional contagion” — a social mechanism central to bonding and cohesion. Social drinkers (360 male, 360 female) consumed alcohol, placebo, or control beverages in groups of three. Social interactions were videotaped, and both Duchenne and non-Duchenne smiling were continuously coded using the Facial Action Coding System. Results revealed that Duchenne smiling (but not non-Duchenne smiling) contagion correlated with self-reported reward and typical drinking patterns. Importantly, Duchenne smiles were significantly less “infectious” among sober male groups versus female groups and that alcohol eliminated these gender differences in smiling contagion. Findings identify new directions for research that explores social-reward processes in the etiology of alcohol problems.

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Experimentation versus progression in adolescent drug use: A test of an emerging neurobehavioral imbalance model

Atika Khurana et al.
Development and Psychopathology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Based on an emerging neuroscience model of addiction, this study examines how an imbalance between two neurobehavioral systems (reward motivation and executive control) can distinguish between early adolescent progressive drug use and mere experimentation with drugs. Data from four annual assessments of a community cohort (N = 382) of 11- to 13-year-olds were analyzed to model heterogeneity in patterns of early drug use. Baseline assessments of working memory (an indicator of the functional integrity of the executive control system) and three dimensions of impulsivity (characterizing the balance between reward seeking and executive control systems) were used to predict heterogeneous latent classes of drug use trajectories from early to midadolescence. Findings revealed that an imbalance resulting from weak executive control and heightened reward seeking was predictive of early progression in drug use, while heightened reward seeking balanced by a strong control system was predictive of occasional experimentation only. Implications of these results are discussed in terms of preventive interventions that can target underlying weaknesses in executive control during younger years, and potentially enable at-risk adolescents to exercise greater self-restraint in the context of rewarding drug-related cues.

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The Economic Value to Smokers of Graphic Warning Labels on Cigarettes: Evidence from Combining Market and Experimental Auction Data

Matthew Rousu et al.
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

Abstract:
Many countries now require prominent pictorial health warning labels (HWLs) on the front and back of cigarette packages. In the US, pictorial HWLs have been adopted, but tobacco industry litigation has delayed their implementation. This intervention could have value to smokers, if it increases their information and changes their smoking behavior. In this paper we estimate the value of two different health warning labels for cigarette packages relative to the current US labeling policy. Our methodology does not depend on the personal values of policy makers or other individuals, as the value of information estimates we derive are based solely on smokers’ own consumption choices, not any public health or other effects. We introduce an approach to valuing information with a surplus measure that couples willingness-to-pay from non-hypothetical experimental auctions with time-series revealed preference demand estimates. We find that a pictorial HWL has a large value to smokers, and a higher value than a label that only contains text, insofar as changing purchase behavior.

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Effects of Regulation on Methadone and Buprenorphine Provision in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Bridget McClure et al.
Journal of Urban Health, October 2014, Pages 999-1008

Abstract:
Hurricane Sandy led to the closing of many major New York City public hospitals including their substance abuse clinics and methadone programs, and the displacement or relocation of thousands of opioid-dependent patients from treatment. The disaster provided a natural experiment that revealed the relative strengths and weaknesses of methadone treatment in comparison to physician office-based buprenorphine treatment for opioid dependence, two modalities of opioid maintenance with markedly different regulatory requirements and institutional procedures. To assess these two modalities of treatment under emergency conditions, semi-structured interviews about barriers to and facilitators of continuity of care for methadone and buprenorphine patients were conducted with 50 providers of opioid maintenance treatment. Major findings included that methadone programs presented more regulatory barriers for providers, difficulty with dose verification due to impaired communication, and an over reliance on emergency room dosing leading to unsafe or suboptimal dosing. Buprenorphine treatment presented fewer regulatory barriers, but buprenorphine providers had little to no cross-coverage options compared to methadone providers, who could refer to alternate methadone programs. The findings point to the need for well-defined emergency procedures with flexibility around regulations, the need for a central registry with patient dose information, as well as stronger professional networks and cross-coverage procedures. These interventions would improve day-to-day services for opioid-maintained patients as well as services under emergency conditions.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Climate of fear

Climate and Conflict

Marshall Burke, Solomon Hsiang & Edward Miguel
NBER Working Paper, October 2014

Abstract:
Until recently, neither climate nor conflict have been core areas of inquiry within economics, but there has been an explosion of research on both topics in the past decade, with a particularly large body of research emerging at their intersection. In this review, we survey this literature on the interlinkages between climate and conflict, by necessity drawing from both economics and other disciplines given the inherent interdisciplinarity of research in this field. We consider many types of human conflict in the review, including both interpersonal conflict — such as domestic violence, road rage, assault, murder, and rape — and intergroup conflict — including riots, ethnic violence, land invasions, gang violence, civil war and other forms of political instability, such as coups. We discuss the key methodological issues in estimating causal relationships in this area, and largely focus on "natural experiments" that exploit variation in climate variables over time, helping to address omitted variable bias concerns. After harmonizing statistical specifications and standardizing estimated effect sizes within each conflict category, we carry out a hierarchical meta-analysis that allows us to estimate the mean effect of climate variation on conflict outcomes as well as to quantify the degree of variability in this effect size across studies. Looking across 55 studies, we find that deviations from moderate temperatures and precipitation patterns systematically increase the risk of conflict, often substantially, with average effects that are highly statistically significant. We find that contemporaneous temperature has the largest average effect by far, with each 1σ increase toward warmer temperatures increasing the frequency of contemporaneous interpersonal conflict by 2.4% and of intergroup conflict by 11.3%, but that the 2-period cumulative effect of rainfall on intergroup conflict is also substantial (3.5%/σ). We also quantify heterogeneity in these effect estimates across settings that is likely important. We conclude by highlighting remaining challenges in this field and the approaches we expect will be most effective at solving them, including identifying mechanisms that link climate to conflict, measuring the ability of societies to adapt to climate changes, and understanding the likely impacts of future global warming.

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Leveraging scientific credibility about Arctic sea ice trends in a polarized political environment

Kathleen Hall Jamieson & Bruce Hardy
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 September 2014, Pages 13598-13605

Abstract:
This work argues that, in a polarized environment, scientists can minimize the likelihood that the audience’s biased processing will lead to rejection of their message if they not only eschew advocacy but also convey that they are sharers of knowledge faithful to science’s way of knowing and respectful of the audience’s intelligence; the sources on which they rely are well-regarded by both conservatives and liberals; and the message explains how the scientist arrived at the offered conclusion, is conveyed in a visual form that involves the audience in drawing its own conclusions, and capsulizes key inferences in an illustrative analogy. A pilot experiment raises the possibility that such a leveraging–involving–visualizing–analogizing message structure can increase acceptance of the scientific claims about the downward cross-decade trend in Arctic sea ice extent and elicit inferences consistent with the scientific consensus on climate change among conservatives exposed to misleadingly selective data in a partisan news source.

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Public views on the dangers and importance of climate change: Predicting climate change beliefs in the United States through income moderated by party identification

Jeremiah Bohr
Climatic Change, September 2014, Pages 217-227

Abstract:
Previous research has identified the interaction between political orientation and education as an important predictor of climate change beliefs. Using data from the 2010 General Social Survey, this article looks at the moderating effect of party identification on income in predicting climate change beliefs in the U.S. Probing this interaction reveals that increased income predicts a higher probability of dismissing climate dangers among Republican-leaning individuals when compared with Independents and Democrats. Alternatively, increased income predicts a higher probability of ranking climate change as the most important environmental problem facing the United States among Democratic-leaning individuals compared with Republicans. The results indicate that income only predicts climate change beliefs in the presence of certain political orientations, with poorer Republicans less likely to dismiss climate change dangers than their affluent counterparts.

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Upper limit for sea level projections by 2100

S. Jevrejeva, A. Grinsted & J.C. Moore
Environmental Research Letters, October 2014

Abstract:
We construct the probability density function of global sea level at 2100, estimating that sea level rises larger than 180 cm are less than 5% probable. An upper limit for global sea level rise of 190 cm is assembled by summing the highest estimates of individual sea level rise components simulated by process based models with the RCP8.5 scenario. The agreement between the methods may suggest more confidence than is warranted since large uncertainties remain due to the lack of scenario-dependent projections from ice sheet dynamical models, particularly for mass loss from marine-based fast flowing outlet glaciers in Antarctica. This leads to an intrinsically hard to quantify fat tail in the probability distribution for global mean sea level rise. Thus our low probability upper limit of sea level projections cannot be considered definitive. Nevertheless, our upper limit of 180 cm for sea level rise by 2100 is based on both expert opinion and process studies and hence indicates that other lines of evidence are needed to justify a larger sea level rise this century.

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Estimating the Normal Background Rate of Species Extinction

Jurriaan De Vos et al.
Conservation Biology, forthcoming

Abstract:
A key measure of humanity's global impact is by how much it has increased species extinction rates. Familiar statements are that these are 100–1000 times pre-human or background extinction levels. Estimating recent rates is straightforward, but establishing a background rate for comparison is not. Previous researchers chose an approximate benchmark of 1 extinction per million species per year (E/MSY). We explored disparate lines of evidence that suggest a substantially lower estimate. Fossil data yield direct estimates of extinction rates, but they are temporally coarse, mostly limited to marine hard-bodied taxa, and generally involve genera not species. Based on these data, typical background loss is 0.01 genera per million genera per year. Molecular phylogenies are available for more taxa and ecosystems, but it is debated whether they can be used to estimate separately speciation and extinction rates. We selected data to address known concerns and used them to determine median extinction estimates from statistical distributions of probable values for terrestrial plants and animals. We then created simulations to explore effects of violating model assumptions. Finally, we compiled estimates of diversification — the difference between speciation and extinction rates for different taxa. Median estimates of extinction rates ranged from 0.023 to 0.135 E/MSY. Simulation results suggested over- and under-estimation of extinction from individual phylogenies partially canceled each other out when large sets of phylogenies were analyzed. There was no evidence for recent and widespread pre-human overall declines in diversity. This implies that average extinction rates are less than average diversification rates. Median diversification rates were 0.05–0.2 new species per million species per year. On the basis of these results, we concluded that typical rates of background extinction may be closer to 0.1 E/MSY. Thus, current extinction rates are 1,000 times higher than natural background rates of extinction and future rates are likely to be 10,000 times higher.

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Increased variability of tornado occurrence in the United States

Harold Brooks, Gregory Carbin & Patrick Marsh
Science, 17 October 2014, Pages 349-352

Abstract:
Whether or not climate change has had an impact on the occurrence of tornadoes in the United States has become a question of high public and scientific interest, but changes in how tornadoes are reported have made it difficult to answer it convincingly. We show that, excluding the weakest tornadoes, the mean annual number of tornadoes has remained relatively constant, but their variability of occurrence has increased since the 1970s. This is due to a decrease in the number of days per year with tornadoes combined with an increase in days with many tornadoes, leading to greater variability on annual and monthly time scales and changes in the timing of the start of the tornado season.

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Limited impact on decadal-scale climate change from increased use of natural gas

Haewon McJeon et al.
Nature, forthcoming

Abstract:
The most important energy development of the past decade has been the wide deployment of hydraulic fracturing technologies that enable the production of previously uneconomic shale gas resources in North America. If these advanced gas production technologies were to be deployed globally, the energy market could see a large influx of economically competitive unconventional gas resources. The climate implications of such abundant natural gas have been hotly debated. Some researchers have observed that abundant natural gas substituting for coal could reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Others have reported that the non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions associated with shale gas production make its lifecycle emissions higher than those of coal. Assessment of the full impact of abundant gas on climate change requires an integrated approach to the global energy–economy–climate systems, but the literature has been limited in either its geographic scope or its coverage of greenhouse gases. Here we show that market-driven increases in global supplies of unconventional natural gas do not discernibly reduce the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions or climate forcing. Our results, based on simulations from five state-of-the-art integrated assessment models of energy–economy–climate systems independently forced by an abundant gas scenario, project large additional natural gas consumption of up to +170 per cent by 2050. The impact on CO2 emissions, however, is found to be much smaller (from −2 per cent to +11 per cent), and a majority of the models reported a small increase in climate forcing (from −0.3 per cent to +7 per cent) associated with the increased use of abundant gas. Our results show that although market penetration of globally abundant gas may substantially change the future energy system, it is not necessarily an effective substitute for climate change mitigation policy.

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Remote sensing of fugitive methane emissions from oil and gas production in North American tight geologic formations

Oliver Schneising et al.
Earth's Future, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the past decade there has been a massive growth in the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing of shale gas and tight oil reservoirs to exploit formerly inaccessible or unprofitable energy resources in rock formations with low permeability. In North America, these unconventional domestic sources of natural gas and oil provide an opportunity to achieve energy self-sufficiency and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when displacing coal as a source of energy in power plants. However, fugitive methane emissions in the production process may counter the benefit over coal with respect to climate change and therefore need to be well quantified. Here we demonstrate that positive methane anomalies associated with the oil and gas industries can be detected from space and that corresponding regional emissions can be constrained using satellite observations. Based on a mass-balance approach, we estimate that methane emissions for two of the fastest growing production regions in the United States, the Bakken and Eagle Ford formations, have increased by 990 ± 650 ktCH 4 yr − 1 and 530 ± 330 ktCH 4 yr − 1 between the periods 2006–2008 and 2009–2011. Relative to the respective increases in oil and gas production, these emission estimates correspond to leakages of 10.1 ± 7.3 % and 9.1 ± 6.2 % in terms of energy content, calling immediate climate benefit into question and indicating that current inventories likely underestimate fugitive emissions from Bakken and Eagle Ford.

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Local warming and violent conflict in North and South Sudan

Jean-François Maystadt, Margherita Calderone & Liangzhi You
Journal of Economic Geography, forthcoming

Abstract:
Our article contributes to the emerging micro-level strand of the literature on the link between local variations in weather shocks and conflicts by focusing on a pixel-level analysis for North and South Sudan between 1997 and 2009. Temperature anomalies are found to strongly affect the risk of conflict, whereas the risk is expected to magnify in a range of 24–31% in the future under a median scenario. Our analysis also sheds light on the competition over natural resources, in particular water, as the main driver of such relationship in a region where pastoralism constitutes the dominant livelihood.

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A Century of Ocean Warming on Florida Keys Coral Reefs: Historic In Situ Observations

Ilsa Kuffner et al.
Estuaries and Coasts, forthcoming

Abstract:
There is strong evidence that global climate change over the last several decades has caused shifts in species distributions, species extinctions, and alterations in the functioning of ecosystems. However, because of high variability on short (i.e., diurnal, seasonal, and annual) timescales as well as the recency of a comprehensive instrumental record, it is difficult to detect or provide evidence for long-term, site-specific trends in ocean temperature. Here we analyze five in situ datasets from Florida Keys coral reef habitats, including historic measurements taken by lighthouse keepers, to provide three independent lines of evidence supporting approximately 0.8 °C of warming in sea surface temperature (SST) over the last century. Results indicate that the warming observed in the records between 1878 and 2012 can be fully accounted for by the warming observed in recent decades (from 1975 to 2007), documented using in situ thermographs on a mid-shore patch reef. The magnitude of warming revealed here is similar to that found in other SST datasets from the region and to that observed in global mean surface temperature. The geologic context and significance of recent ocean warming to coral growth and population dynamics are discussed, as is the future prognosis for the Florida reef tract.

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The future of global water stress: An integrated assessment

Adam Schlosser et al.
Earth's Future, August 2014, Pages 341–361

Abstract:
We assess the ability of global water systems, resolved at 282 assessment subregions (ASRs), to the meet water requirements under integrated projections of socioeconomic growth and climate change. We employ a water resource system (WRS) component embedded within the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Integrated Global System Model (IGSM) framework in a suite of simulations that consider a range of climate policies and regional hydroclimate changes out to 2050. For many developing nations, water demand increases due to population growth and economic activity have a much stronger effect on water stress than climate change. By 2050, economic growth and population change alone can lead to an additional 1.8 billion people living under at least moderate water stress, with 80% of these located in developing countries. Uncertain regional climate change can play a secondary role to either exacerbate or dampen the increase in water stress. The strongest climate impacts on water stress are observed in Africa, but strong impacts also occur over Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America. The combined effects of socioeconomic growth and uncertain climate change lead to a 1.0–1.3 billion increase of the world's 2050 projected population living with overly exploited water conditions — where total potential water requirements will consistently exceed surface water supply. This would imply that adaptive measures would be taken to meet these surface water shortfalls and include: water-use efficiency, reduced and/or redirected consumption, recurrent periods of water emergencies or curtailments, groundwater depletion, additional interbasin transfers, and overdraw from flow intended to maintain environmental requirements.

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Why are climate policies of the present decade so crucial for keeping the 2 °C target credible?

Baptiste Perrissin Fabert et al.
Climatic Change, October 2014, Pages 337-349

Abstract:
Decision-makers have confirmed the long term objective of preventing a temperature increase greater than 2 °C. This paper aims at appraising by means of a cost-benefit analysis whether decision makers’ commitment to meet the 2 °C objective is credible or not. Within the framework of a cost-benefit type integrated assessment model, we consider that the economy faces climate damages with a threshold at 2 °C. We run the model for a broad set of scenarios accounting for the diversity of “worldviews” in the climate debate. For a significant share of scenarios we observe that it is considered optimal to exceed the threshold. Among those “non-compliers” we discriminate ”involuntary non-compliers” who cannot avoid the exceedance due to physical constraint from ”deliberate compliers” for whom the exceedance results from a deliberate costs-benefit analysis. A second result is that the later mitigation efforts begin, the more difficult it becomes to prevent the exceedance. In particular, the number of ”deliberate non-compliers” dramatically increases if mitigation efforts do not start by 2020, and the influx of involuntary non-compliers become overwhelming if efforts are delayed to 2040. In light of these results we argue that the window of opportunity for reaching the 2 °C objective with a credible chance of success is rapidly closing during the present decade. Further delay in finding a climate agreement critically undermines the credibility of the objective.

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Antarctic outlet glacier mass change resolved at basin scale from satellite gravity gradiometry

J. Bouman et al.
Geophysical Research Letters, 28 August 2014, Pages 5919–5926

Abstract:
The orbit and instrumental measurement of the Gravity Field and Steady State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite mission offer the highest ever resolution capabilities for mapping Earth's gravity field from space. However, past analysis predicted that GOCE would not detect changes in ice sheet mass. Here we demonstrate that GOCE gravity gradiometry observations can be combined with Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) gravity data to estimate mass changes in the Amundsen Sea Sector. This refined resolution allows land ice changes within the Pine Island Glacier (PIG), Thwaites Glacier, and Getz Ice Shelf drainage systems to be measured at respectively −67 ± 7, −63 ± 12, and −55 ± 9 Gt/yr over the GOCE observing period of November 2009 to June 2012. This is the most accurate pure satellite gravimetry measurement to date of current mass loss from PIG, known as the “weak underbelly” of West Antarctica because of its retrograde bed slope and high potential for raising future sea level.

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Distributional Implications of Climate Change in Rural India: A General Equilibrium Approach

Hanan Jacoby, Mariano Rabassa & Emmanuel Skoufias
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
We develop a general equilibrium framework, based on a specific-factors trade model, to quantify the medium-term household welfare impacts of global warming in rural India. Using an hedonic approach grounded in the theory combined with detailed microdata, we estimate that three decades of warming will reduce agricultural productivity in the range of 7%–13%, with the arid northwest of India especially hard hit. Our analysis shows that the proportional welfare cost of climate change is likely to be both modest and evenly distributed across percentiles of the per capita income distribution, but this latter conclusion emerges only when the flexibility of rural wages is taken into account.

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Life cycle environmental impacts of UK shale gas

Laurence Stamford & Adisa Azapagic
Applied Energy, 1 December 2014, Pages 506–518

Abstract:
Exploitation of shale gas in the UK is at a very early stage, but with the latest estimates suggesting potential resources of 3.8 × 1013 cubic metres – enough to supply the UK for next 470 years – it is viewed by many as an exciting economic prospect. However, its environmental impacts are currently unknown. This is the focus of this paper which estimates for the first time the life cycle impacts of UK shale gas, assuming its use for electricity generation. Shale gas is compared to fossil-fuel alternatives (conventional gas and coal) and low-carbon options (nuclear, offshore wind and solar photovoltaics). The results suggest that the impacts range widely, depending on the assumptions. For example, the global warming potential (GWP100) of electricity from shale gas ranges from 412 to 1102 g CO2-eq./kWh with a central estimate of 462 g. The central estimates suggest that shale gas is comparable or superior to conventional gas and low-carbon technologies for depletion of abiotic resources, eutrophication, and freshwater, marine and human toxicities. Conversely, it has a higher potential for creation of photochemical oxidants (smog) and terrestrial toxicity than any other option considered. For acidification, shale gas is a better option than coal power but an order of magnitude worse than the other options. The impact on ozone layer depletion is within the range found for conventional gas, but nuclear and wind power are better options still. The results of this research highlight the need for tight regulation and further analysis once typical UK values of key parameters for shale gas are established, including its composition, recovery per well, fugitive emissions and disposal of drilling waste.

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Estimating climate change effects on net primary production of rangelands in the United States

Matthew Reeves et al.
Climatic Change, October 2014, Pages 429-442

Abstract:
The potential effects of climate change on net primary productivity (NPP) of U.S. rangelands were evaluated using estimated climate regimes from the A1B, A2 and B2 global change scenarios imposed on the biogeochemical cycling model, Biome-BGC from 2001 to 2100. Temperature, precipitation, vapor pressure deficit, day length, solar radiation, CO2 enrichment and nitrogen deposition were evaluated as drivers of NPP. Across all three scenarios, rangeland NPP increased by 0.26 % year−1 (7 kg C ha−1 year−1) but increases were not apparent until after 2030 and significant regional variation in NPP was revealed. The Desert Southwest and Southwest assessment regions exhibited declines in NPP of about 7 % by 2100, while the Northern and Southern Great Plains, Interior West and Eastern Prairies all experienced increases over 25 %. Grasslands dominated by warm season (C4 photosynthetic pathway) species showed the greatest response to temperature while cool season (C3 photosynthetic pathway) dominated regions responded most strongly to CO2 enrichment. Modeled NPP responses compared favorably with experimental results from CO2 manipulation experiments and to NPP estimates from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Collectively, these results indicate significant and asymmetric changes in NPP for U.S. rangelands may be expected.

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Discounting the Distant Future: An Experimental Investigation

Therese Grijalva, Jayson Lusk & Douglass Shaw
Environmental and Resource Economics, September 2014, Pages 39-63

Abstract:
We use a laboratory experiment to elicit discount rates over a 20-year time horizon using government savings bonds as a payment vehicle. When using a constant (exponential) discount rate function, we find an implied average discount rate of 4.9 %, which is much lower than has been found in previous experimental studies that used time horizons of days or months. However, we also find strong support for non-constant, declining discount rates for longer time horizons, with an extrapolated implied annual discount rate approaching 0.5 % in 100 years. There is heterogeneity in discount rates and risk preferences in that people with more optimistic beliefs about technological progress have higher discount rates. These findings contribute to the debate over the appropriate discount rate to use in comparing the long-term benefits of climate change mitigation to the more immediate costs.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM


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