Kevin Lewis

June 11, 2024

Social Mobility Across the Pacific: An Analysis of Japanese Americans in the Continental United States
Tate Kihara
Demography, forthcoming

The impact of immigrant parents' premigration family background on their second-generation children residing in destination countries remains underexplored in the literature on historical social mobility. Using multigenerational historical survey records from the Japanese American Research Project, this study investigates the influence of premigration socioeconomic and cultural background of Japan-born grandparents and parents on the social mobility of second-generation Japanese Americans born in the continental United States in the early twentieth century. The analysis reveals the enduring effects of family premigration socioeconomic status, as indicated by occupation and education, and culture conducive to upward mobility, proxied by samurai ancestry, on second-generation Japanese Americans' educational and income levels. These effects may extend back to their nonmigrant grandparents and possibly contrast with their European second-generation immigrant counterparts, who typically experienced upward mobility regardless of their family background. The results point to the critical role of origin-country socioeconomic status and culture in immigrant social mobility research, particularly for populations whose negative reception has hindered their resource access in their new countries.

The Moral Values of "Rugged Individualism"
Samuel Bazzi, Martin Fiszbein & Maximiliano Garcia
NBER Working Paper, May 2024

The United States is among the most individualistic societies in the world. However, unlike Western European individualism, which is imbued with moral universalism, America's "rugged individualism" is instead particularistic. We link this distinctive cultural configuration to the country's frontier history. The frontier favored self-reliance, but also rewarded cooperation, which could only be sustained through strong, local group identities. We show that counties with longer frontier history are more particularistic, displaying stronger opposition to federal taxes relative to state taxes, stronger communal values, less charitable giving to distant counties, and fewer online friendships with people in distant counties. At the same time, connections across counties display assortative matching on frontier history, highlighting the important role of culture in bridging disparate areas of the country. Overall, our results shed new light on moral values and the divergence of American and European individualism.

Culture shapes sex differences in mate preferences
Nechumi Malovicki-Yaffe, Adam Tratner & Melissa McDonald
Evolution and Human Behavior, May 2024, Pages 281-291

The tendency for women, relative to men, to more strongly prefer mates with good financial prospects has been reliably documented across a variety of cultures. Malovicki-Yaffe et al. (2018) provided data to the contrary, demonstrating that Haredi women of the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel care little for a wealthy partner. They reported no significant sex difference in ratings of a partner's economic prospects, and a reversal for trait rankings, such that men rated a woman's earning capacity as more important than women did. These findings illustrate that status is culturally determined. The most conservative members of the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel endorse a sociocultural agreement in which women enter the workforce as the breadwinner to enable men to devote their time to religious pursuits. As a consequence, little power can be earned by men for their wealth, but is instead presumed to be conferred by their status as a religious scholar. Women's preferences follow suit, with a strong desire to acquire a highly intelligent and educated religious scholar as a mate. This sociocultural arrangement is still practiced within the ultra-Orthodox community, but recent shifts toward modernization in religious beliefs among some sects provide an opportunity to build on past research in three ways (1) replicate the reversed sex difference in mate preferences for economic prospects with a larger and more religiously varied sample (N = 1414 via an online Haredi Panel, Study 1), (2) examine whether the sex-reversed effect is weaker among those who have shifted to more modern religious beliefs (Study 1), and (3) validate the underlying assumptions made by past work with respect to how Haredi men and women earn power (N = 949 via online convenience sampling, Study 2). The results document a sex reversal in mate rankings and ratings for economic prospects, demonstrate that this effect is strongest among the most religiously conservative Haredi people, and confirm that men's strongest source of power in the ultra-Orthodox community is their role as a Torah scholar -- eclipsing the impact of wealth. Additionally, we demonstrate the stability of men's preferences for a young and attractive partner, and explore whether women's role as an economic breadwinner translates into power in the home or community.

Global Ecology and Geography of Gender Equality
Evert Van de Vliert & Esther Kluwer
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Proximal socio-economic drivers of gender equality tend to obscure its remote ecological origins. General systems theory predicts that the greater annual variability in daylength, temperature, and daily precipitation at higher latitudes requires greater psychosocial flexibility. We extend this prediction to gender equality as a likely consequence. Accordingly, for 87 pre-industrial societies after 1500 CE, we find more gender equality in more variable habitats, and that this link is mediated by greater subsistence flexibility -- foraging rather than raising plants and animals. Mutatis mutandis, these ecological predictors of global gender equality replicate in 175 modern countries after 2000 CE. Gender equality was, and still is, lowest around the Equator, higher toward the North and South Poles, and invariant in east-west direction. The geographical positioning of gender equality in pre-industrial times can predict over 40% of the opposite north-south gradients of gender equality in the opposite Northern and Southern Hemispheres today.

The "Dark Side" of Community Ties: Collective Action and Lynching in Mexico
Enzo Nussio
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Lynching remains a common form of collective punishment for alleged wrongdoers in Latin America, Africa, and Asia today. Unlike other kinds of collective violence, lynching is usually not carried out by standing organizations. How do lynch mobs overcome the high barriers to violent collective action? I argue that they draw on local community ties to compensate for a lack of centralized organization. Lynch mobs benefit from solidarity and peer pressure, which facilitate collective action. The study focuses on Mexico, where lynching is prevalent and often amounts to the collective beating of thieves. Based on original survey data from Mexico City and a novel lynching event dataset covering the whole of Mexico, I find that individuals with more ties in their communities participate more often in lynching, and municipalities with more highly integrated communities have higher lynching rates. As community ties and lynching may be endogenously related, I also examine the posited mechanisms and the causal direction. Findings reveal that municipalities exposed to a recent major earthquake -- an event that tends to increase community ties -- subsequently experienced increased levels of lynching. Importantly, I find that interpersonal trust is unrelated to lynching, thus showing that different aspects of social capital have diverging consequences for collective violence, with community ties revealing a "dark side."

Cultural Constraints and Policy Implementation: Effects of the Beijing License Plate Lottery on the Environment
Amy Liu & Edmund Malesky
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, January 2024, Pages 91-126

Can culture constrain policy implementation -- and if so, under what conditions and for whom? In this paper, we test to what extent traditional values of numerology in China impeded the environmental benefits of a well-designed license plate policy. We take advantage of two natural experiments in Beijing. First, in 2008 authorities began limiting cars on the road by restricting specific plate numbers each day. Second, in 2011 authorities introduced a lottery policy-making it difficult to obtain any plate. We find that (1) non-traditionalists abandoned cultural norms, accepted non-lucky plate numbers, and switched to newer, greener vehicles, whereas (2) traditionalists -- fearing the loss of their lucky plate numbers -- held on to their older pollutant-emitting cars. We test our argument using a CO readings dataset, a Beijing driver survey, and a license plate image database. We find strong evidence that emissions were lower when lucky numbers were restricted, and the pattern strengthened gradually over time.

Who Is Your Biggest Critic? Cultural Variation in Moral Judgments of the Self and Others
Cristina Salvador, Cindel White & Ting Ai
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming

People are motivated to punish others who commit immoral actions when they believe the person willingly committed such an act. Compared with European American individuals, East Asian individuals are more punitive of wrongdoings, yet are less likely to attribute actions to the person. Here, we drew on research in cultural psychology to test the prediction that Chinese individuals are more punitive in part because they are more self-critical than European American individuals. This prediction would imply that cultural differences in punishment are most pronounced in judgments of oneself (vs. others) and largely driven by a difference in self-enhancement motives. To test this prediction, we conducted two studies, where 1,563 participants imagined immoral (vs. moral) actions performed by themselves or others. We then measured self-enhancement (how much participants perceived the immoral act impacts self-esteem) and attributions (how much participants perceived the immoral act is due to the person). As predicted, Chinese individuals punished immoral behavior more than European American individuals, which was explained by Chinese individuals being less self-enhancing, as indicated by a greater perception that immoral actions will negatively impact their self-esteem. Dispositional attributions predicted punishment regardless of culture. This work highlights how cultural differences in self-enhancement are key to understanding moral judgments and their cultural variation.


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