Wednesday, April 26, 2006

American Academy of Arts & Sciences 2006 Class of Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members

Academy Announces 2006 Class of Fellows
"The 195 scholars, scientists, artists, civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders come from 24 states and 13 countries, and range in age from 37 to 83. Represented among this year's newly elected members are more than 60 universities, a dozen corporations, as well as museums, research institutes, media outlets and foundations."

Link to full list

The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting.

Does media bias affect voting? We address this question by looking at the entry of Fox News in cable markets and its impact on voting. Between October 1996 and November 2000, the conservative Fox News Channel was introduced in the cable programming of 20 percent of US towns. Fox News availability in 2000 appears to be largely idiosyncratic. Using a data set of voting data for 9,256 towns, we investigate if Republicans gained vote share in towns where Fox News entered the cable market by the year 2000. We find a significant effect of the introduction of Fox News on the vote share in Presidential elections between 1996 and 2000. Republicans gain 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points in the towns which broadcast Fox News. The results are robust to town-level controls, district and county fixed effects, and alternative specifications. We also find a significant effect of Fox News on Senate vote share and on voter turnout. Our estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 8 percent of its viewers to vote Republican. We interpret the results in light of a simple model of voter learning about media bias and about politician quality. The Fox News effect could be a temporary learning effect for rational voters, or a permanent effect for voters subject to non-rational persuasion. Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

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Narrowing Digital Divide

BERLIN (Reuters) - The digital divide is narrowing as citizens in emerging markets get online via computers and mobile phones, with some regions now on a par with developed nations, a ranking of Web-savvy nations showed on Wednesday.

"Encouraging is the apparent narrowing of the digital divide," said the annual study published by U.S. computer company International Business Machines Corp. and the intelligence unit of British magazine The Economist.

"This is particularly evident in basic connectivity: emerging markets are providing the vast majority of the world's new phone and Internet connections," the study found.

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The Study:
The 2006 e-readiness rankings
A white paper from the Economist Intelligence Unit
Written in co-operation with the IBM Institute for Business Value

"With over 1bn Internet users and 2bn mobile-phone users worldwide, and continual progress in most qualitative indicators of technology-related development, the world in early 2006 may be proclaimed ever more “e-ready”. This year’s e-readiness rankings reflect such progress, as all but two countries have improved their scores from the previous year. Most of the rankings’ top players have moved upwards in lock step, and there has been little real movement in the broader ranks from 2005 to 2006 (although the addition of three new countries this year has pushed some down the list)."

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Understanding Iran: People, Politics and Power

"The Foreign Policy Centre this week launched Understanding Iran: People, Politics and Power, a report authored by Hugh Barnes and Alex Bigham of the Foreign Policy Centre. The report seeks to map out the diverse and diffuse power structures in Iran, analyse some of the personalities involved, and look at the potential for civil society." Source: The Foreign Policy Centre (UK)

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Gender Equity in the Academic Labor Market: An Analysis of Academic Disciplines

"Women faculty earn less than men do, even after controlling for an array of individual characteristics and disciplinary labor market conditions and structural characteristics. As previous research has suggested, simply controlling for human capital greatly reduces the wage gap. In the uncontrolled model, females earned approximately 22% less than did males. After including controls for experience, seniority, research productivity, teaching, and education, the wage gap dropped to slightly less than 8%. Labor market effects reduced the gap even further to 6.8%. However, the 6.8% gap found in the final models is not trivial and translates to approximately $5,400 in annual salary." Source: American Educational Research Association

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Time to Degree of U.S. Research Doctorate Recipients

"This InfoBrief looks at the relationship between doctorate field and average time-to-degree differences. Broad field of study differences in time to degree are first examined over a 25-year span, then differences across more detailed fields are described in terms of standard Carnegie classifications of doctorate-granting institutions for the 2002–03 academic year, hereafter referred to as 2003. Data are also broken down within fields of study by the recipients' primary source of financial support while earning their doctorate, and by whether the recipient earned a master's degree in the same field." Source: National Science Foundation

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Groups Perform Better Than the Best Individuals on Letters-to-Numbers Problems: Effects of Group Size

"Groups of three, four, or five perform better on complex problem solving than the best of an equivalent number of individuals, says a new study appearing in the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA). This finding may transfer to scientific research teams and classroom problem solving and offer new ways for students to study and improve academic performance, according to the study authors."

"We found that groups of size three, four, and five outperformed the best individuals and attribute this performance to the ability of people to work together to generate and adopt correct responses, reject erroneous responses, and effectively process information," said lead author Patrick Laughlin, PhD., of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

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Monday, April 24, 2006

The Devaluing of Higher Education: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2005–06.

For the second consecutive year, the increase in overall average salaries for college and university professors failed to keep up with the rate of inflation. That is one of the central findings of “The Devaluing of Higher Education: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2005–06.”

The AAUP’s annual report has been an authoritative source of data on faculty salaries and compensation for decades. This year’s findings call into question assertions contained in an issue paper on college costs prepared recently for the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education. The paper, by commission consultant Robert C. Dickeson, claims that “faculty salaries are especially expensive,” and that “the time-honored practice of tenure is costly.” AAUP data, however, indicate that overall average faculty salaries remain depressed as a result of a long-term pattern of insufficient investment in faculty. Source: American Association of University Professors

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Prevalence of deliberate self harm and attempted suicide within contemporary Goth youth subculture: longitudinal cohort study

"Identification by youth aged 19 as belonging to the Goth subculture was the best predictor of self harm and suicide attempt. This effect was not attenuated by adjusting for identification with any other youth subculture. Self harm could be a normative component of Goth subculture including emulation of subcultural icons or peers who self harm (modelling mechanisms). Alternatively, it could be explained by selection, with young people with a particular propensity to self harm being attracted to the subculture." Source: British Medical Journal

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Is there a Human Right to Free Movement? Immigration and Original Ownership of the Earth

Abstract: To what extent is a country allowed to regulate immigration into its territory, and thus to determine who lives there? Acts of immigration amount to changes in two distinct relationships. They amount to a change in political relationships, since the immigrant alters her political standing within one community and acquires a new political status in her country of admission. Immigration represents, however, also an alteration in physical relationship, since the individual acquires a relationship to a particular piece of territory, making a life for herself with the resources offered by a specific part of the earth. This last form of relationship, we contend, is worthy of independent examination from the standpoint of justice, and opening up that line of inquiry is what this study seeks to do. This inquiry begins from the relationship of people to property, and asks whether that relationship imposes independent moral constraints on immigration controls. Source: Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University working paper series

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A Formula for Successful Grant Writing: Four Proven Keys

"Like fund-raising, grant writing can be an effective means of acquiring resources beyond institutional allocations. Unlike fund-raising, however, grant writing is largely nonverbal, based instead on formal writing skills."

Article goes on to provide information on reviewers' expectations and outlines keys for success.

Source: Academic Leader : Newsletter for academic deans and department chairs.

Link to online article

Self-Enforcing Democracy

Abstract : If democracy is to have any of the good effects said to justify it, it must be self-enforcing. Those who control the government must want to hold regular, competitive elections for the highest offices, and all parties must be willing to comply with the results. I consider a model in which citizens can always protest or rebel against the current ruler, but can unseat the ruler only if enough people rebel. When individuals privately observe a signal of the government's performance (e.g. their own welfare), they face a difficult problem of how to coordinate to pose a credible threat of rebellion necessary to keep the ruler from stealing. Further, if the signals are noisy, inefficient rebellions must occur in equilibrium to keep the ruler honest. Allowing for the possibility of elections makes for equilibria that eliminate both problems. The convention of holding elections at particular times provides a public signal for coordinating rebellion in the event that elections are suspended of blatantly rigged. The electoral results themselves aggregate private information about the ruler's performance, providing the ruler an incentive to stick to the terms. Int he case of noisy signals of government performance, the electoral results act as a cheap talk signal that allows the public to commit to rebel if a losing ruler does not step down, avoiding the need for costly rebellions. These arguments pose an explanation for self-enforcing democracy, whereas the several models in the literature do not because they do not explain why anyone would want to use elections to allocate power. Author/Source: James Fearon, "Self-Enforcing Democracy " (April 19, 2006). Institute of Governmental Studies, U.C. Berkeley.

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On Wars and Political Development. The Role of International Conflicts in the Democratization of the West

Abstract: We investigate the role played by international conflicts in the processes of national political development with particular attention to the transition from autocracy toward democracy. We argue that, if a country is endangered by some outside threat, its elite may find optimal to concede democracy or income redistribution to the masses in order to increase their patriotism and their war effort. This in turn increases the chances of victory of the country so avoiding to the elite severe income losses. We provide historical evidence for some Western countries that confirms this theory. Source: Institute of Governmental Studies, U.C. Berkeley

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Internet’s Growing Role in Life’s Major Moments

The internet has become increasingly important to users in their everyday lives. It is also the case that for many of online Americans, the internet has become a crucial source of information at major moments and milestones in their lives.

Our surveys show that 45% of internet users, or about 60 million Americans, say that the internet helped them make big decisions or negotiate their way through major episodes in their lives in the previous two years.

To explore this phenomenon, we fielded the Major Moments Survey in March 2005, that repeated elements of an earlier January 2002 survey. Comparison of the two surveys revealed striking increases in the number of Americans who report that the internet played a crucial or important role in various aspects of their lives. Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Cooperation with Rivals

Abstract: The common characteristic of R&D joint ventures between oligopolistic competitors, arms reduction talks, and study groups in law school is cooperation with rivals. Players benefit from cooperation, but any gain by their partner weakens their own position when competing for profits, security, or a high class ranking. I construct a model in which players have different resource endowments and can increase them through bilateral cooperation. The final allocations enter a contest success function and determine each player’s probability of winning a fixed prize. A refinement of Nash equilibrium, Pairwise Stable Nash Equilibrium (PSNE), is defined to deal with the need for mutual consent to establish cooperation. Results show that universal full cooperation is a PSNE in this zero-sum game without repeated play if no player predominates, and the only PSNE if players are free to negotiate side-payments. The model is then applied to trade between the US and China. Source: Department of Economics, UCSC

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State Finances in India: A Case for Systemic Reform

This paper provides a self-contained overview of the present problems of state finances in India. It begins with an overview of historical evolution and current institutional structures, including economic, political, administrative and fiscal aspects of India’s federal system. The paper then reviews the current situation of India’s state government finances, going on to consider various developments that have shaped the states’ current fiscal situation, including the roles of national economic reform, the intergovernmental transfer system, tax reform, and local government reform. Policy options for reforming institutions of fiscal federalism system, borrowing mechanisms for the states, and governance are then discussed, with an emphasis on the principle that states should have appropriate incentives for fiscal discipline at the margins of revenue and expenditure. Source: Department of Economics, UCSC

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Lost, Dysfunctional or Evolving? A View of Business Schools from Silicon Valley

Recent articles have rekindled discussions around the direction and relevance of US business schools. The two main viewpoints are distinct but equally critical. On one hand, business schools are considered overly focused on “scientific research” and having lost their connection to “real world” and management issues. On the other hand, schools are considered “dysfunctionally” focused on media rankings and short-term superficial marketing fixes. Our study of educational opportunities and workforce development in Silicon Valley suggests a different viewpoint. We agree that both approaches correctly identify the challenge of preparing managers in globalized world. However, we believe they misdiagnose the cause of the failure. Rather than being lost or dysfunctional, we believe business programs — like the firms and students they serve — are in the process of evolving to meet a shifting global and local environment. Our findings indicate that business schools face structural, content, and program shifts. Educationally, business programs continue to be seen as doing a good job of educating their students in core functional areas and processes. However, they do less well in teaching their graduates interpersonal skills, real-time decision-making, recognition of contexts, and integration across functional areas. These are increasingly the skills demanded by the global business environment. Even more challenging is meeting the demand for both sets of skills within very specialized fields like technology management. Structurally, new types of students and learning demands are placing stresses on traditional full-time two-year programs and their business models. Women and minority groups increasingly form the majority of the future student population, with distinct needs and demands for part-time and executive education. This shift is also evident in demands for life-long learning and engagement as opposed to a fixed, one-shot program experiences. These challenges require business schools to build upon what they do well, while innovating to serve new business and student needs. Source: Department of Economics, UCSC

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Immigration Enforcement Within the United States

"Many divergent tasks are incorporated under the banner of immigration enforcement. These include removing aliens who should not be in the United States, investigating alien smuggling and trafficking, patrolling between and at ports of entry, combating document and benefit fraud, and enforcing the prohibitions against employers hiring aliens without work authorization. Historically, more resources (measured in staff hours) have been allotted to enforcement at the border than enforcement within the United States. While the amount of U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) resources almost doubled between FY1997 and FY2003, time spent on other enforcement activities increased only slightly, while the number of inspection hours decreased. Furthermore, focusing on "interior" enforcement, in FY2003, the largest amount of staff time was devoted to locating and arresting criminal aliens (39%), followed by administrative and non-investigative duties (23%) and alien smuggling investigations (15%). Only 4% was devoted to worksite enforcement (i.e., locating and arresting aliens working without authorization, and punishing employers who hire such workers)."

"The 109th Congress has spent much time debating immigration enforcement and the unauthorized alien population. Congress could allocate more resources to immigration enforcement activities, raising the question of what is the most efficient allocation of resources among the different enforcement tasks. For example, some assert that the United States has not truly tried immigration enforcement, arguing that most of the resources have been devoted to border enforcement, instead of fully engaging in other types of immigration enforcement; others contend that only a legalization program can reduce the unauthorized population. In addition, Congress could expand the immigration enforcement role of other federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. Many fear, however, that this option will distract the agencies and local law enforcement from their primary missions. Since many of the unauthorized aliens come to the United States for economic opportunities, some argue that a guest worker program, creating opportunities for a large number of aliens to come to the United States to work, could significantly reduce unauthorized migration. Others argue that an increase in the enforcement of the prohibition against hiring illegal alien workers and the use and manufacturing of fraudulent documents would make it more difficult for unauthorized aliens to find work, resulting in a decrease in the unauthorized population." Source: Congressional Research Service

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Politics of the Millennial Generation: A New Survey Comparing Political Attitudes Between Generations

"Our research suggests that, as in other areas of individual and societal life, the social and political environment into which each generation emerged influenced the political beliefs and perceptions of that generation. While it is true that generational variations in political attitudes, perceptions, and behavior are not as sharp as those based on strictly political variables such as self-perceived party identification and political ideology, generational political differences do exist. These generational political differences have the potential to influence election results, the style and tone of political discussion, and public policy direction as each succeeding generation emerges to shape and even dominate the political process as voters and office holders." Source: New Politics Institute

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Improving Opportunities and Incentives for Saving by Middle- and Low-Income Households

"First, we would require every firm (with possible exceptions for the smallest businesses) to enroll its new workers automatically in at least one plan: a traditional defined benefit plan, a 401(k), or an IRA. Businesses also would be required to set various features of the plans in a "pro-saving" manner, although workers always would have the option to override those "pro-saving" defaults. Second, our proposal would replace current tax deductions for contributions to tax-preferred retirement accounts with a new program providing universal matching contributions from the government for household deposits to 401(k)s and IRAs. Unlike the current system under which low-income households enjoy much weaker immediate incentives to contribute than high-income households, all households making a qualified contribution to a 401(k) or IRA would receive the same 30 percent match from the government. We also propose other changes to the retirement system to promote lifetime annuities." Source: The Brookings Institution (Hamilton Project)

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Looking at Act II of Women’s Lives: Thriving & Striving from 45 On

"Much of the research revealed a sense of false confidence among many women 45+ as it explored perceptions alongside day-to-day realities of financial issues such as savings, retirement planning and emergency funds." Source: AARP Policy & Research

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

No country in the world treats its women as well as its men

"Gender equity is far from being achieved. The opportunities available to men and women are unequal in every country in the world. Almost 70% of the world's poor are women. The most obvious inequities are seen in the economic and political spheres. The exclusion of women is clearly visible in the political sphere. Although they account for more than half of the world's population, women occupy only 15% percent of seats in the world's parliaments on average. According to international studies, in order for women to exercise real influence on political processes, they would have to hold at least 30% of political positions." Source: Social Watch

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Life expectancy: women now on top everywhere

"The year 2006 should not be allowed to pass without at least a quiet celebration that this is the first year in human history when -- across almost all the world -- women can expect to enjoy a longer life expectancy than men. That the trend is moving in this direction will probably be confirmed this week in the 2006 world health report." Source: British Medical Journal

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U.S. Occupation Assistance: Iraq, Germany and Japan Compared

"This report provides aggregate data on U.S. assistance to Iraq and compares it with U.S. assistance to Germany and Japan during the seven years following World War II. U.S. aid allocations (all grant assistance ) for Iraq appropriated from 2003 to 2006 total $28.9 billion. About $17.6 billion (62%) went for economic and political reconstruction assistance. The remaining $10.9 billion (38%) was targeted at bolstering Iraqi security. A higher proportion of Iraqi aid has been provided for economic reconstruction of critical infrastructure than was the case for Germany and Japan. Total U.S. assistance to Iraq thus far is roughly equivalent to total assistance (adjusted for inflation) provided to Germany — and almost double that provided to Japan — from 1946-1952." Source: Congressional Research Service

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TRAC Immigration Info Web Site

"Developed with the support of the JEHT Foundation, the Ford Foundation and Syracuse University, the site offers one-stop shopping for a broad array of authoritative information about what is now one of the largest single enforcement and control efforts in the United States. The first edition of TRAC's new site, among other features, includes: (1) separate clearly written reports on important immigration matters, (2) a special TRAC tool that provides one-click access to the very latest monthly data on criminal enforcement of the immigration laws, along with a clear explanatory text, (3) an extensive library of immigration reports by the GAO, CRS and inspectors general, (4) a plain English glossary of frequently used words and acronyms and much more." Source: Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC)/Syracuse University.

link to TRAC Immigration Info Web Site

Ex-Aide to Tom DeLay’s Plea Agreement

"The purpose of the conspiracy was for defendant Rudy and his coconspirators to unjustly enrich themselves by corruptly accepting and providing a stream of things of value with the intent to influence and reward official acts, making misrepresentations to their own clients and attempting to influence Members of Congress in violation of the law."

Source: U.S. Courts (via FindLaw)

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America's Immigration Quandary

"Americans are increasingly concerned about immigration. A growing number believe that immigrants are a burden to the country, taking jobs and housing and creating strains on the health care system. Many people also worry about the cultural impact of the expanding number of newcomers in the U.S. Yet the public remains largely divided in its views of the overall effect of immigration. Roughly as many believe that newcomers to the U.S. strengthen American society as say they threaten traditional American values, and over the longer term, positive views of Latin American immigrants, in particular, have improved dramatically. Reflecting this ambivalence, the public is split over many of the policy proposals aimed at dealing with the estimated 11.5 million-12 million unauthorized migrants in the U.S. Overall, 53% say people who are in the U.S. illegally should be required to go home, while 40% say they should be granted some kind of legal status that allows them to stay here." Source: Pew Hispanic Center

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Working Against the Clock: The Implementation of Welfare Time Limits in California

"This report is the first in a series aimed at fully understanding the effects of the 60-month CalWORKs time limit. It describes the state’s and counties’ early efforts to implement CalWORKs timelimit policies." Source: Welfare Policy Research Project, U.C. Berkeley

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