Thursday, July 27, 2006

Unfinished Business: The Impact of Race on Understanding Mentoring Relationships

“Race is clearly ‘unfinished business’ because of the plethora of conflicting emotions that are unleashed as we approach the taboo (Thomas, 1989). This tension speaks to the importance of this chapter as we explore the issue of mentoring as embedded within the social context of race within today’s dynamic and diverse organizations. First, we delineate several important reasons why it is critical to discuss mentoring and race. We explore how race has been positioned within the literature to provide a context for our review of how the mentoring literature has discussed (and omitted) race as a key factor. We ask a critical question within this review: what do we know about the intersection of mentoring and race in organizations? Finally, we explore some of the unfinished business concerning race and mentoring and present a model to drive future research in this vital area.” Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

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Investigation and Prosecution of Homicide Cases in the U.S.: The Process for Federal Involvement

“This research builds on earlier studies conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that focused on the federal death penalty system. It responds directly to a call for research into the process by which homicide cases are investigated and how and why some of those cases enter the federal system and others enter the state system. The findings make clear that no one factor likely predicts whether homicide cases are brought to the federal system. Instead, the findings suggest a framework that organizes the myriad factors that influence decision-making into two categories: openness that is influenced by expertise, capabilities, and track record; and coordination and interaction that is influenced by task forces and other mutually beneficial relationships reinforced by shared crime concerns and respect. Using qualitative research techniques, this study examined the processes by which criminal cases, especially homicide cases, entered the federal criminal justice system. The research plan called for ten districts, which were selected purposefully and should not be considered representative of the 94 federal districts. Researchers visited nine federal districts and interviewed federal, state, and local investigators, prosecutors, and defense attorneys who potentially played a role in determining whether homicide cases were investigated and prosecuted in the state or federal systems. The findings in this report are limited to the first four districts analyzed. These districts are geographically diverse, with and without state capital provisions, and sent among the highest and lowest number of cases to DOJ for capital consideration during the study reference period, 1995-2000.” Source: National Opinion Research Center

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Employment-Focused Programs for Ex-Prisoners: What Have We Learned, What Are We Learning, and Where Should We Go from Here?

“It is clearly difficult to increase employment and earnings for disadvantaged men. Yet the results described above do not support the view that ‘nothing works.’ Some programs seem to be modestly successful: those for older ex-prisoners, integrated services both before and after release, and perhaps models using financial incentives. Further attention to design and evaluation of prisoner reentry programs may produce useful results, as most of the studies are quite old, and both the economic and criminal justice contexts have changed dramatically in recent years.” Source: MRDC

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Consensual and Conflictual Democratization

We study the process of endogenous democratization from inefficient oligarchic systems in an economy where heterogeneous individuals can get involved in predation activities. The features of democracies are shown to be crucially related to the conditions under which democratization initially takes place. The political regime and the extent of redistribution implemented under it depend on the allocation of de facto political power across the different social groups. The cost of public enforcement of property rights depends on the extent of predation activities in the economy. The theory highlights the importance of inequality in natural resources and availability of human capital for endogenous democratic transitions. Multiple politico-economic equilibria can be sustained conditional on expectations about property rights enforcement. This generates history dependence. Democratic transitions supported by a large consensus serve as coordination device and lead to better protection of property and more stable political systems than democratic transitions imposed in conflictual environments. We test the novel predictions using available cross-country data. The link between the type of democratic transition and the outcomes under democracy is also investigated using novel data on constitutional principles. The findings support the theoretical predictions. Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

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Happiness and Loss Aversion: When Social Participation Dominates Comparison

A central finding in happiness research is that a person’s income relative to the average income in her social reference group is more important for her life satisfaction than the absolute level of her income. This dependence of life satisfaction on relative income can be related to the reference dependence of the value function in Kahneman and Tversky’s (1979) prospect theory. In this paper we investigate whether the characteristics of the value function like concavity for gains, convexity for losses, and loss aversion apply to the dependence of life satisfaction on relative income. This is tested with a new measure for the reference income for a large German panel for the years 1984-2001. We find concavity of life satisfaction in positive relative income, but unexpectedly strongly significant concavity of life satisfaction in negative relative income as well. The latter result is shown to be robust to extreme distortions of the reported-life-satisfaction scale. It implies a rising marginal sensitivity of life satisfaction to more negative values of relative income, and hence loss aversion (in a wide sense). This may be explained in terms of increasing financial obstacles to social participation. Source: Institute for the study of Labor

Genetic, Cultural and Geographical Distances

Abstract: This paper investigates how the measures of genetic distance between populations, which have been used in anthropology and historical linguistics, can be used in economics. What does the correlation between genetic distance and economic variables mean? Using the measure of genetic distance, a newly-collected database on transport costs, as well as more refined measures of geography within Europe, we show that i) geography explains both genetic distance and transportation costs between European countries, and ii) genetic distance does not explain economic outcomes once we control for geography. We conclude that genetic distance in economics capture transportation costs between countries and not cultural differences. Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

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Arts Instruction of Public School Students in the First and Third Grades

This Issue Brief uses the First- and Third-Grade Spring Teacher Questionnaires of the ECLS-K to examine the changes over time from first to third grade in how often young children are exposed to arts education in the general classroom. The Brief also looks at differences in these characteristics by level of poverty and/or urbanicity of the school. In both first and third grade, most public school students received weekly instruction in music and art at least weekly, while weekly instruction in dance and theater occurred less often within each year. About 32 percent of students in high poverty public schools never received theater instruction in either grade compared with 24 percent of students in low poverty public schools. Of the students who received music instruction in either first or third grade, 29 percent of students in urban public schools received weekly music instruction less often in third grade than in first compared with 20 percent of students in suburban public schools and 22 percent in rural public schools. Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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Fathers of U.S. Children Born in 2001

This E.D. TAB presents information about the biological fathers of children born in the United States in the year 2001. It is the first publication of findings using the data collected from fathers during the base-year collection of the ECLS-B. It presents information on specific demographic characteristics of resident and nonresident biological fathers’ involvement in pregnancy and birth, fathers’ attitudes about fathering, and father involvement. Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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Nursing Home Quality as a Public Good

There has been much debate among economists about whether nursing home quality is a public good across Medicaid and private-pay patients within a common facility. However, there has been only limited empirical work addressing this issue. Using a unique individual level panel of residents of nursing homes from seven states, we exploit both within-facility and within-patient variation in payer source and quality to examine this issue. We also test the robustness of these results across states with different Medicaid and private-pay rate differentials. Across our various identification strategies, the results generally support the idea that quality is a public good within nursing homes. That is, within a common nursing home, there is very little evidence to suggest that Medicaid-funded residents receive consistently lower quality care relative to their private-paying counterparts. Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

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Inside the Family Firm: The Role of Families in Succession Decisions and Performance

This paper uses a unique dataset from Denmark to investigate the impact of family characteristics in corporate decision making and the consequences of these decisions on firm performance. We focus on the decision to appoint either a family or external chief executive officer (CEO). The paper uses variation in CEO succession decisions that result from the gender of a departing CEO’s firstborn child. This is a plausible instrumental variable (IV), as male first-child firms are more likely to pass on control to a family CEO than are female first-child firms, but the gender of the first child is unlikely to affect firms’ outcomes. We find that family successions have a large negative causal impact on firm performance: operating profitability on assets falls by at least four percentage points around CEO transitions. Our IV estimates are significantly larger than those obtained using ordinary least squares. Furthermore, we show that family-CEO underperformance is particularly large in fast-growing industries, industries with highly skilled labor force and relatively large firms. Overall, our empirical results demonstrate that professional, non-family CEOs provide extremely valuable services to the organizations they head. Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Estimated Costs of U.S. Operations in Iraq Under Two Specified Scenarios

“The Congress has appropriated $432 billion for military operations and other activities related to the war on terrorism since September 2001. According to CBO’s estimates, from the time U.S. forces invaded Iraq in March 2003, $290 billion has been allocated for activities in Iraq, of which $254 billion has gone to the Department of Defense (DoD) and other defense agencies for military operations. Approximately $14 billion has been provided to establish, train, and equip Iraqi security forces. Another $22 billion has been appropriated for reconstruction and relief efforts, diplomatic and consular operations, embassy construction, economic support, and foreign aid. In addition to the amounts specifically appropriated for the war on terrorism, CBO estimates that from 2003 to the end of fiscal year 2006, VA will spend about $1 billion on medical care, disability compensation, and survivor benefits resulting from military activities in Iraq.” Source: Congressional Budget Office

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Mexico's Split Vote: What Will It Mean for Sustainable Economic Growth?

For the 41 million Mexican voters who went to the polls on July 2, the major decision was whether they were going to continue to follow the same free-market model with limited spending and greater foreign investment that the country has had for the past six years, or opt for change. Felipe Calderón, the political heir apparent of Vicente Fox, represented the conservative National Action Party (PAN). Calderón was the candidate of continuity and free markets, while Andrés Manuel López Obrador -- of the Party of the Democratic Revolution -- was the candidate of change. Source: Knowledge @ Wharton

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Little Consensus on Global Warming Partisanship Drives Opinion

"Americans generally agree that the earth is getting warmer, but there is less consensus about the cause of global warming or what should be done about it. Roughly four-in-ten (41%) believe human activity such as burning fossil fuels is causing global warming, but just as many say either that warming has been caused by natural patterns in the earth's environment (21%), or that there is no solid evidence of global warming (20%).

The public also is divided over the gravity of the problem. While 41% say global warming is a very serious problem, 33% see it as somewhat serious and roughly a quarter (24%) think it is either not too serious or not a problem at all. Consequently, the issue ranks as a relatively low public priority, well behind education, the economy, and the war in Iraq." Source: Pew Research Center

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G8 Summiteers Inspire Little Confidence Around the Globe

When President George W. Bush is greeted by his host, President Vladimir Putin at this weekend's G8 summit meeting in St. Petersburg, neither leader can feel secure in the confidence placed in their leadership by the citizens of major countries around the globe. To be sure, Putin can take some comfort in the 82% level of confidence he inspired among the people of Russia in the latest Pew Global Attitudes Project survey. By comparison, Bush scored only a 51% confidence rating among those of his own countrymen who registered an opinion. But, with a few exceptions, neither man can point to substantial levels of support elsewhere in the world. Source: Pew Research Center

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2006 National Survey of Latinos

"Latinos are feeling more discriminated against, politically energized and unified following the immigration policy debate and the pro-immigration marches this spring, according to the 2006 National Survey of Latinos conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center."

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The Renminbi’s Dollar Peg at the Crossroads

Abstract: In the face of huge balance of payments surpluses and internal inflationary pressures, China has been in a classic conflict between internal and external balance under its dollar currency peg. Over the longer term, China’s large, modernizing, and diverse economy will need exchange rate flexibility and, eventually, convertibility with open capital markets. A feasible and attractive exit strategy from the essentially fixed RMB exchange rate would be a two-stage approach, consistent with the steps already taken since July 2005, but going beyond them. First, establish a limited trading band for the RMB relative to a basket of major trading partner currencies. Set the band so that it allows some initial revaluation of the RMB against the dollar, manage the basket rate within the band if necessary, and widen the band over time as domestic foreign exchange markets develop. Second, put on hold ad hoc measures of financial account liberalization. They will be less helpful for relieving exchange rate pressures once the RMB/basket rate is allowed to move flexibly within a band, and they are best postponed until domestic foreign exchange markets develop further, the exchange rate is fully flexible, and the domestic financial system has been strengthened and placed on a market-oriented basis. Source: Center for International and Development Economics Research. Paper C06-148.

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Mobilization Lawyering: Community Economic Development in the Figueroa Corridor

Abstract: The emergence of Community Economic Development (CED) as a distinct field of cause lawyering highlights the complexities of community mobilization in the post-regulatory state. Defined by a set of social policies and grassroots practices that promote neighborhood revitalization, CED is associated with a transactional model of cause lawyering focused on negotiating deals between community-based nonprofit organizations, public funders, and private investors. Whereas cause lawyers have traditionally sought to mobilize claims of legal rights to advance systemic reform, CED lawyers attempt to mobilize community participation to change local economic circumstances through the creation of innovative institutional structures. Source: U.C. L.A. School of Law

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Affordable Housing: Liveable Communities

"Housing is one of today's most persistent problems. From the "experts there has been no shorate of answers. Over the years we have tried them all. But space-age construcation methods, ingenious financial techniques, increasing subsidies, and lowering standards have done little to improve the quality, quantity or affordability of housing. The problem is not that we have overlooked some new angle, or good idea, or form of construction, financing or subsidy that will allow us to make housing more "affordable." It is that we continue to engage each of these issues in isolation rather than as part of a way of life." Places: Vol. 2: No. 1, via the University of California Digital Library.

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Economic, neurobiological, and behavioral perspectives on building America’s future workforce

Abstract: A growing proportion of the U.S. workforce will have been raised in disadvantaged environments that are associated with relatively high proportions of individuals with diminished cognitive and social skills. A cross-disciplinary examination of research in economics, developmental psychology, and neurobiology reveals a striking convergence on a set of common principles that account for the potent effects of early environment on the capacity for human skill development. Central to these principles are the findings that early experiences have a uniquely powerful influence on the development of cognitive and social skills and on brain architecture and neurochemistry, that both skill development and brain maturation are hierarchical processes in which higher level functions depend on, and build on, lower level functions, and that the capacity for change in the foundations of human skill development and neural circuitry is highest earlier in life and decreases over time. These findings lead to the conclusion that the most efficient strategy for strengthening the future workforce, both economically and neurobiologically, and improving its quality of life is to invest in the environments of disadvantaged children during the early childhood years. Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Article in Stanford Reporter | Link to Abstract | Link to download PDF paper (Subscription Required)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W. Bush

"In recent judicial confirmation battles, President Bush has repeatedly—and correctly—stressed fidelity to the Constitution as the key qualification for service as a judge. It is also the key qualification for service as the nation's chief executive. On January 20, 2005, for the second time, Mr. Bush took the presidential oath of office set out in the Constitution, swearing to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." With five years of the Bush administration behind us, we have more than enough evidence to make an assessment about the president's commitment to our fundamental legal charter." Source: CATO Institute

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Research, Training and Information for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality

INSTRAW is the only United Nations entity mandated at the international level to promote and undertake research and training programmes to contribute to the advancement of women and gender equality worldwide. By stimulating and assisting the efforts of inter-governmental, governmental and non-governmental organizations, INSTRAW plays a critical role in advancing the global agenda of gender equality, development and peace. INSTRAW is funded entirely through voluntary contributions from UN Member States and donor agencies; the Institute does not have a regular UN budget. Source: United Nations

Resources: Directory of participating organizations | Main Site

United Nations World Economic and Social Survey

"The World Economic and Social Survey (WESS) provides objective analysis of pressing long-term social and economic development issues, and discusses the positive and negative impact of corresponding policies. The analyses are supported by analytical research and data included in the annex." Source: United Nations

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A Research Agenda: Impacts of Welfare Reform on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs)

"This document summarizes the proceedings from a research symposium held on June 29 th, 2006, on the impact of Welfare Reform on Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). This population has not received adequate attention in most welfare studies, despite the severity of the problem facing some ethnic subgroups. The symposium’s goals are to review existing research, identify future research needs, and to develop a strategy to implement a research agenda. Included in this document are background information, abstracts of the papers presented during the symposium, recommendations for future research, biographical information and an annotated bibliography of selective publications." Source: The Ralph and Goldy Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies. Conference Proceedings.

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Lost Children: Addressing the Under – Identification of Trafficked Alien Minors in Los Angeles County

"Children are being trafficked in the United States for commercial and sexual exploitation – many of them from overseas. In April of 2002, a young Egyptian girl was freed by federal authorities from a couple’s home in Irvine, California, where she was forced to work as a domestic servant for two years. 2 During those two years, she lived in “squalid conditions.” 3 She was denied access to a formal education and was threatened with physical harm by the couple. In 2005, seven individuals were charged by federal authorities for smuggling children across the U.S.Mexico border for the purposes of selling them to American families looking to adopt foreign children. 4 In New Jersey, the Russian Mafia transported under-age girls from Eastern Europe to the U.S. and forced them to work as dancers in exotic dance clubs. 5 There are many more stories of foreign children being sold, rented, and enslaved in the U.S." Source: The Ralph and Goldy Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies.
UCLA School of Public Affairs

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San Francisco Bay Area’s Spare the Air/Free Morning Commute Program: Program Effectiveness in Comparison to the Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles Area

Abstract: The Spare the Air/Free Morning Commute (Spare the Air) program in the San Francisco Bay Are funds up to five mornings of weekday transit when air quality is forecasted to exceed federal 8-hour ozone levels during the summer months. Spare the Air has existed for two years and data is limited to three fare free morning commute days. A similar program exists in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area known as Code Red Air Quality Action Days, which funds free transit with the exception of rail and buses within the District of Columbia. These two programs are contrasted with one another along with the Los Angeles region transportation related air quality strategy in order to provide insight on which programs are most effective and appropriate for each region. In order to determine policy appropriateness, a literature review of transit fare elasticity and major air quality strategies in the three regions is undertaken. Lastly, the current Spare the Air program evaluation and the ridership collection, analysis, and reporting methodology are reviewed in order to make suggestions for more effective program administration. Source: The Ralph and Goldy Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies. UCLA School of Public Affairs

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Stories, Scripts, Roles, and Networks

Abstract: In Identity and Control, Harrison White (1992) stresses the importance of stories as a medium for and outcome of efforts at control. Stories as social ties retell the events that have occurred between people or identities and they offer scripts for social action. The notion of stories as scripts is in line with an early result in the study of literature, where Vladímir Propp (Morphology of the Folktale, 1928) showed that a large corpus of Russian folktales are characterized by a script with a limited number of functions or roles that appear in a fixed order. It will be demonstrated that these roles can be identified by a signed dyadic tie with a particular chronological order and that the scripts culminate in a balanced situation. Furthermore, it will be shown that the temporally ordered ties occur in a social network and that the associated fairytale meanings seem to apply here as well. Finally, a nesting rule is proposed that captures the scripting of roles within fairytales. This rule, however, does not seem to exert a profound influence on the dynamics of the social network of literary authors and critics studied. Source: Structure and Dynamics: eJournal of Anthropological and Related Sciences: U. C. Irvine.

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Do the Democrats Have a 'God Problem'?

"In the immediate aftermath of George W. Bush's 2004 victory over John Kerry, many journalists and other political observers declared the election to have been decided, in large part, on the basis of moral values and cultural issues. According to the national exit poll, more than one-in-five voters (22%) cited moral values as the most important issue in the campaign.1 Gay marriage was identified as being a particularly important issue, since same-sex marriage initiatives were on ballots in 13 states (including the crucial swing state of Ohio) and served, ostensibly, to mobilize turnout among conservative opponents of same-sex unions. These initial reactions turned out to have overstated the importance of moral values and cultural issues--and gay marriage in particular--in the campaign. (See, for instance, Pew Research Center 2004 and others.2 ) Still, careful analyses of the national exit poll and other post-election surveys3 revealed the persistence of what Prothero4 referred to as the "God gap"; those who attend church frequently and conservative Christians (especially white evangelical Protestants) supported Bush over Kerry by large margins. In other words, insofar as religion has become a political force, it seems generally to help Republicans and hurt Democrats." Source: Gregory A. Smith, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and Peyton M. Craighill, Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

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Muslims in Europe: Economic Worries Top Concerns About Religious and Cultural Identity

"Muslims in Europe worry about their future, but their concern is more economic than religious or cultural. And while there are some signs of tension between Europe's majority populations and its Muslim minorities, Muslims there do not generally believe that most Europeans are hostile toward people of their faith. Still, over a third of Muslims in France and one-in-four in Spain say they have had a bad experience as a result of their religion or ethnicity." Source: Pew Research Center

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Understanding the Use of Digital Resources in Humanities and Social Science Undergraduate Education

Final Report from a research project studying the use of digital resources in undergraduate education in the humanities and social sciences.
From the introduction:
"There is consensus among many scholars, developers, and the public that high-quality knowledge should be freely available where economically feasible. Almost every American research university campus, including those in the University of California (UC) system, has made significant investments in digitizing its intellectual and cultural resources and making them available to faculty, students, and the general public. However, we have little empirical data about how these resources are being used by the originating campus or by other institutions for educational activities. The general lack of knowledge about level and quality of use of unrestricted, or free, resources has been identified as a pressing concern by those who fund, use, and develop these types of resources. The build it and they will come approach has resulted in a widely acknowledged supply-driven movement. For example, after providing millions of dollars for the creation of digital libraries, NSF and JISC (the U.K. equivalent of NSF)5 are both concerned about the low level of use of available digital resources among the teaching faculty of our institutions. Those who fund open educational resource initiatives, such as the Hewlett Foundation, are interested in users and how understanding them will provide insights into the sustainability of the significant activities they fund in this space."

Source: Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Gender and Migration

"Reflecting broad changes in their social and economic status, women around the world have been migrating more in recent decades and have thus constituted an increasing share of migrant populations almost everywhere. But the U.S. has defied this global trend, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of data from the U.S, Census Bureau and the United Nations. Women have made up ever larger shares of legal immigrants to the United States in recent years, as they have elsewhere. However, an increasing flow of mostly-male unauthorized migrants has more than counterbalanced the feminization of legal migration, making the U.S. the only industrialized country where the percentage of female migrants has declined over the past 25 years." Source: Pew Hispanic Center

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