Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Effect of Sleep on Wages: Time Use and Productivity

While economists have long been interested in effects of health and human capital on productivity, less attention has been paid to the influence of time use. We investigate the productivity effects of the single largest use of time--sleep. Because sleep influences performance on memory and focus intensive tasks, it plausibly affects economic outcomes. We identify the effect of sleep on wages by exploiting the relationship between sunset time and sleep duration. Using a large, nationally representative set of time use diaries from the United States, we provide the first causal estimates of the impact of sleep on wages: a one-hour increase in long-run average sleep increases wages by 16%, equivalent to more than one year of schooling. We also document the nonlinearity of the sleep-wage relationship. Our results highlight the economic importance of sleep and pose potentially fruitful questions about the effects of time use on labor market outcomes.
Source: UCSD Department of Economics [via e-scholarship repository]

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Survey Finds That The Public Favors a shift in U.S. Policy to Expedite the Legal Processing of Central American Children.

From the online overview:

As the president and Congress struggle over how to deal with the influx of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America across the U.S.-Mexican border, a new survey finds that the public favors a shift in U.S. policy to expedite the legal processing of the children.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted July 8-14 among 1,805 adults, finds that about half (53%) think that the legal process for dealing with Central American children who cross the border illegally should be accelerated, even if that means that some children who are eligible for asylum are deported. Fewer (39%) support staying with the current policy, even though the process could take a long time and the children will stay in the U.S. in the interim.

Most Republicans (60%) and independents (56%) think legal processing of the children should be sped up even if it means some children who are eligible for asylum are deported. Democrats are divided: 46% favor an expedited legal process, but about as many (47%) favor maintaining the current policy, though that might result in a lengthy legal process and a long stay in the U.S. for the children.
Source: Pew Research Center

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How Americans Feel About Religious Groups: Jews, Catholics & Evangelicals Rated Warmly, Atheists and Muslims More Coldly

From the online overview:
Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians are viewed warmly by the American public. When asked to rate each group on a “feeling thermometer” ranging from 0 to 100 – where 0 reflects the coldest, most negative possible rating and 100 the warmest, most positive rating – all three groups receive an average rating of 60 or higher (63 for Jews, 62 for Catholics and 61 for evangelical Christians). And 44% of the public rates all three groups in the warmest part of the scale (67 or higher).

Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons receive neutral ratings on average, ranging from 48 for Mormons to 53 for Buddhists. The public views atheists and Muslims more coldly; atheists receive an average rating of 41, and Muslims an average rating of 40. Fully 41% of the public rates Muslims in the coldest part of the thermometer (33 or below), and 40% rate atheists in the coldest part.

These are some of the key findings from a Pew Research Center survey conducted May 30-June 30, 2014, among 3,217 adults who are part of Pew Research’s new American Trends Panel, a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults.
Source: Pew Research Center

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Poor early language skills linked to later behavior and attention problems

From the news release:
Many previous studies have shown a correlation between behavior problems and language skill. Children with behavior problems, particularly those with attention deficits and hyperactivity, such as in ADHD, often have poor language skills. Whether one of these problems precedes the other and directly causes it was until recently an open question.

In a longitudinal study published last year, Petersen, Bates and several others concluded that the arrow points decisively from poor language ability to later behavioral problems, rather than the reverse. The current study shows that it does this by way of self-regulation, a varied concept that includes physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral control. Self-regulation is integral to children’s capacity to adapt to social situations and to direct their actions toward future goals. The absence of self-regulation abilities is a key predictor and component of future behavior problems.

A number of studies have sought to explain the role of language in the development of self-regulation in terms of the cognitive and neurological mechanisms by which they are linked. This study traces the way they unfold over time and the role of self-regulation in this process.
Source: Indiana University

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Go to published study:  The role of language ability and self-regulation in the development of inattentive–hyperactive behavior problems. Development and Psychopathology, available on CJO2014. doi:10.1017/S0954579414000698. 

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Prosecution & Racial Justice in New York County: Study Examines Racial Disparities in Criminal Case Outcomes

From the description:
The Vera Institute of Justice has released an NIJ-funded study involving researchers who partnered with the District Attorney of New York County (DANY) to examine racial and ethnic disparities in criminal case outcomes in New York County. The two-year study focused on the role of prosecutors during several points of a criminal case – case acceptance for prosecution, dismissals, pretrial detention, plea bargaining, and sentencing recommendations – and whether prosecutorial discretion contributes to racially and ethnically disparate outcomes.

The report found that the best predictors of case outcomes were factors that directly pertained to legal aspects of a case – including the seriousness of the charge, the defendant’s prior record, and the offense type, but race remained a factor in case outcomes. DANY prosecutes nearly all cases with no racial or ethnic difference at case screening, but for subsequent decisions, racially and ethnic disparities varied by prosecutor decision point and offense category. Compared to white defendants, black and Latino defendants were more likely to be detained, to receive a custodial plea offer, and to be incarcerated. They were also more likely to benefit from case dismissal. Asian defendants had the most favorable outcomes across all discretionary points.
Source: Vera Institute of Justice via National Institute of Justice

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Download pdf research summary

Monday, July 07, 2014

Behavioral consequences of eating past the point you are sated.

From the Stanford GSB Blog:
The research is important in the field of memory, where academics are engaged in questions about the relationship between time and memory and when our recency bias shows up. For instance, as you make decisions, do you more clearly remember the first piece of information or the last? Or, which do you weigh more in the decision-making process? What if you have many pieces of information to draw from?
Data and Sources:  
Garbinsky, Emily N., Carey K. Morewedge, and Baba Shiv (forthcoming), “Interference of the End: Why Recency Bias in Memory Determines When a Food is Consumed Again,” Psychological Science.
*Materials and Data: Study 1 Materials, Study 1 Data, Study 2 Materials, Study 2 Data, Study 3 Materials, Study 3 Data

Read more about it on the GSB Blog 

Net Threats: Experts say liberty online is challenged by nation-state crackdowns, surveillance, and pressures of commercialization of the Internet

From the summary:
As Internet experts look to the future of the Web, they have a number of concerns. This is not to say they are pessimistic: The majority of respondents to this 2014 Future of the Internet canvassing say they hope that by 2025 there will not be significant changes for the worse and hindrances to the ways in which people get and share content online today. And they said they expect that technology innovation will continue to afford more new opportunities for people to connect.

Still, some express wide levels of concern that this yearning for an open Internet will be challenged by trends that could sharply disrupt the way the Internet works for many users today as a source of largely unfettered content flows.
Source: Pew Research Internet Project

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Learn more from the complete online summary

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Topographic Map Explorer from the USGS

From the CitiLabs article:
With the help of ESRI, the new site gives users access to more than 178,000 of the USGS's maps dating back to 1884, also making them easily searchable by city.

Learn more by reading the "how-to" CitiLabs article.
Go directly to the USGS Map Explorer

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Closing the Race Gap: Alleviating Young African American Unemployment Through Education

From the description:
While the Great Recession continues to have ripple effects on our entire generation, young African Americans face unemployment rates that are twice that of their white peers. Closing the Race Gap takes an unprecedented look at the driving forces behind racial disparities in the job market, and how higher education can help fight joblessness.
Source: [via the Washington Post]

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Read article from the Washington Post: The economy’s troubling double standard for black men

Friday, June 27, 2014

NSA Full Transparency report

The National Security Agency has posted its first full transparency report. Posted on the official agency Tumblr, the report breaks out the total number of orders for 2013, broken out into FISA orders, National Security Letters, and government requests for business records.

The report details 38,812 targets of National Security Letters, 1,767 FISA orders, and 423 targets of FISA business records requests, consistent with the relatively low numbers offered by President Obama in previous speeches. 

Source: NSA (via the Verge)

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View graphics on NSA Tumblr: IC On the Record

Wealth Levels, Wealth Inequality, and the Great Recession

From the description:
In a new Recession Brief for the Recession Trends initiative, Fabian T. Pfeffer (University of Michigan), RSF president Sheldon Danziger, and Robert F. Schoeni (University of Michigan) explore the extent to which the Great Recession altered the level and distribution of American families’ wealth, looking at the period between 2007 and 2013. While the Recession had a major impact on the net worth of families across the socioeconomic spectrum, it disproportionately affected households at the bottom of the wealth distribution. These households lost the largest share of their total wealth. As a result, wealth inequality in the US has been significantly exacerbated since the onset of the Recession. As of the end of 2013, the authors note that there have been few signs of significant recovery from the downturn.

Source: Russell Sage Foundation

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Interactive Metro Map: Baby Boomers Gaining Jobs, Millennials Standing Pat

From Career Builder News Release:
The jobs recovery has put spotlights on two large sections of the labor force: workers nearing the end of their careers and young adults just beginning them. While the economy has been difficult for both groups, baby boomers now hold a larger percentage of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and other occupations than before the recession, while millennials have generally struggled to make headway four years into the recovery.

The number of jobs held by baby boomers (age 55-64) grew 9 percent from 2007 to 2013, a gain of 1.9 million. The millennial workforce (age 22-34), however, has not recovered from the recession nearly as fast. With an increase of only 110,000 jobs, employment in 2013 was essentially unchanged from 2007 (.3 percent growth).

This analysis – from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI) – explores the very different stories of millennials and baby boomers post-recession. EMSI’s extensive labor market database pulls from over 90 national and state employment resources and includes detailed information on employees and self-employed workers. 
Source: CareerBuilder

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Comparing Regions: Well-being database of OECD countries

From the news release:
Life expectancy, air quality, safety and other indicators of well-being can vary dramatically within countries, depending on which region you live in. Looking beyond national averages is vital to get an accurate picture of quality of life and to guide local government policy.

The OECD today launched a regional well-being website based on an interactive map covering the Organisation’s 34 member countries. It rates 362 sub-national regions with a relative score out of 10 in eight categories: income, health, safety, services, civic engagement, education, jobs and environment.
Source: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

Explore the regional well-being website
Learn more about the project

Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics

To test the hypothesis that lecturing maximizes learning and course performance, we metaanalyzed 225 studies that reported data on examination scores or failure rates when comparing student performance in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses under traditional lecturing versus active learning. The effect sizes indicate that on average, student performance on examinations and concept inventories increased by 0.47 SDs under active learning (n = 158 studies), and that the odds ratio for failing was 1.95 under traditional lecturing (n = 67 studies). These results indicate that average examination scores improved by about 6% in active learning sections, and that students in classes with traditional lecturing were 1.5 times more likely to fail than were students in classes with active learning. Heterogeneity analyses indicated that both results hold across the STEM disciplines, that active learning increases scores on concept inventories more than on course examinations, and that active learning appears effective across all class sizes—although the greatest effects are in small (n ≤ 50) classes. Trim and fill analyses and fail-safe n calculations suggest that the results are not due to publication bias. The results also appear robust to variation in the methodological rigor of the included studies, based on the quality of controls over student quality and instructor identity. This is the largest and most comprehensive metaanalysis of undergraduate STEM education published to date. The results raise questions about the continued use of traditional lecturing as a control in research studies, and support active learning as the preferred, empirically validated teaching practice in regular classrooms.
Source:  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

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Early Life Stress Can Leave Lasting Impacts on the Brain

From Newswise:
A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers recently showed these kinds of stressors, experienced in early life, might be changing the parts of developing children’s brains responsible for learning, memory and the processing of stress and emotion. These changes may be tied to negative impacts on behavior, health, employment and even the choice of romantic partners later in life. 

Source: Newswise |  Biological Psychiatry

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The Role of Instrumental Emotion Regulation in the Emotions–Creativity Link: How Worries Render Individuals With High Neuroticism More Creative

Based on the instrumental account of emotion regulation (Tamir, 2005), the current research seeks to offer a novel perspective to the emotions–creativity debate by investigating the instrumental value of trait-consistent emotions in creativity. We hypothesize that emotions such as worry (vs. happy) are trait-consistent experiences for individuals higher on trait neuroticism and experiencing these emotions can facilitate performance in a creativity task. In 3 studies, we found support for our hypothesis. First, individuals higher in neuroticism had a greater preference for recalling worrisome (vs. happy) events in anticipation of performing a creativity task (Study 1). Moreover, when induced to recall a worrisome (vs. happy) event, individuals higher in neuroticism came up with more creative design (Study 2) and more flexible uses of a brick (Study 3) when the task was a cognitively demanding one. Further, Study 3 offers preliminary support that increased intrinsic task enjoyment and motivation mediates the relationship between trait-consistent emotion regulation and creative performance. These findings offer a new perspective to the controversy concerning the emotions–creativity relationship and further demonstrate the role of instrumental emotion regulation in the domain of creative performance
Source: PsycNET via Pacific Standard Magazine

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Learn more via the article from the Pacific Standard: For Some, Worry Inspires Creativity 

Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology

From the overview:

Even in an increasingly Red vs. Blue nation, the public’s political attitudes and values come in many shades and hues.

Partisan polarization – the vast and growing gap between Republicans and Democrats – is a defining feature of politics today. But beyond the ideological wings, which make up a minority of the public, the political landscape includes a center that is large and diverse, unified by frustration with politics and little else. As a result, both parties face formidable challenges in reaching beyond their bases to appeal to the middle of the electorate and build sustainable coalitions.

The latest Pew Research Center political typology, which sorts voters into cohesive groups based on their attitudes and values, provides a field guide for this constantly changing landscape.
Source: Pew Research Center

Learn more about the study and typology
What type are you: Take the quiz
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Policies to Address Poverty in America

Millions of people live in poverty in this country. They suffer not only material deprivation, but also the hardships and diminished life prospects that come with being poor. Childhood poverty often means growing up without the advantages of a stable home, high-quality schools, or consistent nutrition. Adults in poverty are often hampered by inadequate skills and education, leading to limited wages and job opportunities. And the high costs of housing, healthcare, and other necessities often mean that people must choose between basic needs, sometimes forgoing essentials like meals or medicine. In recognition of these challenges, The Hamilton Project has commissioned fourteen innovative, evidence-based antipoverty proposals. These proposals are authored by a diverse set of leading scholars, each tackling a specific aspect of the poverty crisis.

Source: Brookings Institution

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Your Morals Depend on Language

Should you sacrifice one man to save five? Whatever your answer, it should not depend on whether you were asked the question in your native language or a foreign tongue so long as you understood the problem. And yet here we report evidence that people using a foreign language make substantially more utilitarian decisions when faced with such moral dilemmas. We argue that this stems from the reduced emotional response elicited by the foreign language, consequently reducing the impact of intuitive emotional concerns. In general, we suggest that the increased psychological distance of using a foreign language induces utilitarianism. This shows that moral judgments can be heavily affected by an orthogonal property to moral principles, and importantly, one that is relevant to hundreds of millions of individuals on a daily basis.
 Source:PLoS ONE

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Genetic predisposition to schizophrenia associated with increased use of cannabis

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug worldwide. With debate surrounding the legalization and control of use, investigating its health risks has become a pressing area of research. One established association is that between cannabis use and schizophrenia, a debilitating psychiatric disorder affecting ~1% of the population over their lifetime. Although considerable evidence implicates cannabis use as a component cause of schizophrenia, it remains unclear whether this is entirely due to cannabis directly raising risk of psychosis, or whether the same genes that increases psychosis risk may also increase risk of cannabis use. In a sample of 2082 healthy individuals, we show an association between an individual’s burden of schizophrenia risk alleles and use of cannabis. This was significant both for comparing those who have ever versus never used cannabis (P=2.6 × 10−4), and for quantity of use within users (P=3.0 × 10−3). Although directly predicting only a small amount of the variance in cannabis use, these findings suggest that part of the association between schizophrenia and cannabis is due to a shared genetic aetiology. This form of gene–environment correlation is an important consideration when calculating the impact of environmental risk factors, including cannabis use.
Source: Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication

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