Monday, February 28, 2011

Debunking the Myth of the Overcompensated Public Employee

The research in this paper investigates whether state and local public employees are overpaid at the expense of taxpayers. This research is timely. Thirty-seven states are struggling with substantial budget deficits. Several governors have identified excessive public employee compensation as a major cause of their states’ fiscal duress. The remedies they propose include public employee pay freezes, benefits reductions, privatization, major revisions to the rules of collective bargaining, and constitutional amendments to limit pay increases, each as a necessary antidote to the supposed public employee overpayment malady.

Source: Economic Policy Institute

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Did We Overestimate the Role of Social Preferences? The Case of Self-Selected Student Samples

Social preference research has received considerable attention among economists in recent years. However, the empirical foundation of social preferences is largely based on laboratory experiments with self-selected students as participants. This is potentially problematic as students participating in experiments may behave systematically different than non-participating students or non-students. In this paper we empirically investigate whether laboratory experiments with student samples misrepresent the importance of social preferences. Our first study shows that students who exhibit stronger prosocial inclinations in an unrelated field donation are not more likely to participate in experiments. This suggests that self-selection of more prosocial students into experiments is not a major issue. Our second study compares behavior of students and the general population in a trust experiment. We find very similar behavioral patterns for the two groups. If anything, the level of reciprocation seems higher among non-students suggesting that results from student samples might be seen as a lower bound for the importance of prosocial behavior.

Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

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The State of the World’s Children 2011: Adolescence – An Age of Opportunity

The State of the World’s Children 2011: Adolescence – An Age of Opportunity examines the global state of adolescents; outlines the challenges they face in health, education, protection and participation; and explores the risks and vulnerabilities of this pivotal stage. The report highlights the singular opportunities that adolescence offers, both for adolescents themselves and for the societies they live in. The accumulated evidence demonstrates that investing in adolescents' second decade is our best hope of breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and inequity and of laying the foundation for a more peaceful, tolerant and equitable world.

Source UNICEF | United Nations

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| Link to UNICEF

Recognizing Creative Leadership: Can Creative Idea Expression Negatively Relate to Perceptions of Leadership Potential?

Drawing on and extending prototype theories of creativity and leadership, we theorize that the expression of creative ideas may diminish judgments of leadership potential unless the charismatic leadership prototype is activated in the minds of social perceivers. Study 1 shows creative idea expression is negatively related to perceptions of leadership potential in a sample of employees working in jobs that required creative problem solving. Study 2 shows that participants randomly instructed to express creative solutions during an interaction are viewed as having lower leadership potential. A third scenario study replicated this finding showing that participants attributed less leadership potential to targets expressing creative ideas, except when the “charismatic” leader prototype was activated. In sum, we show that the negative association between expressing creative ideas and leadership potential is robust and underscores an important but previously unidentified bias against selecting effective leaders.

Source: Knowledge @ Wharton ( University of Pennsylvania )

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Sociocultural Data to Accomplish Department of Defense Missions: Toward a Unified Social Framework

Sociocultural Data to Accomplish Department of Defense Missions: Toward a Unified Social Framework summarizes presentations and discussions that took place on August 16-17, 2010, at a National Research Council public workshop sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. The workshop addressed the variables and complex interaction of social and cultural factors that influence human behavior, focusing on potential applications to the full spectrum of military operations.

The workshop's keynote address by Major General Michael T. Flynn, U.S. Army, provided critical context about the cultural situation and needs of the military operating in Afghanistan. Additional presentations were divided into four panels to address the diverse missions encountered by the U.S. military worldwide. The workshop concluded with a final panel to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different methods of acquiring and using relevant data and knowledge to accomplish these missions. The panel topics and presenters are listed below:
Conflict Is Local: Mapping the Sociocultural Terrain David Kennedy, Hsinchun Chen, and Kerry Patton
Bridging Sociocultural Gaps in Cooperative Relationships Robert Rubinstein, Alan Fiske, and Donal Carbaugh
Building Partner Capacity with Sociocultural Awareness Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks and Shinobu Kitayama
The Art of Sociocultural Persuasion Jeanne Brett, James Dillard, and Brant R. Burleson
Tools, Methods, Frameworks, and Models Mark Bevir, Laura A. McNamara, Robert G. Sargent, and Jessica Glicken Turnley

Source: National Academies Press

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Violence in UK schools: what is really happening?

From the Introduction
Newspaper reports frequently tell us that behaviour in UK schools is getting worse. Bullying is commonplace, they say, and teachers are harassed and abused on a daily basis. Internationally, according to some experts, violence in schools is a serious and growing problem. But what is the evidence? Are schools in the UK really becoming more violent places? And what do we actually mean by this?

This Insight review assesses the up-to-date information on this controversial topic. There is a wealth of relevant material, but it comes from a variety of sources and disciplinary perspectives. We have brought it together in order to provide a broad, coherent and, where information is available, an accurate picture of what is happening. Some pupils, parents and teachers say that they worry a great deal about bullying and safety in schools. While these are understandable concerns, they nevertheless should be tempered by the evidence.

Source: British Educational Research Association (BERA)

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Neuroscience: implications for education and lifelong learning

This report highlights advances in neuroscience with potential implications for education and lifelong learning. The report authors, including neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists and education specialists, agree that if applied properly, the impacts of neuroscience could be highly beneficial in schools and beyond.

The report argues that our growing understanding of how we learn should play a much greater role in education policy and should also feature in teacher training. The report also discusses the challenges and limitations of applying neuroscience in the classroom and in learning environments throughout life.

Source: The Royal Society

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Peer-to-Peer Healthcare

The internet gives patients and caregivers access not only to information, but also to each other.

Many Americans turn to friends and family for support and advice when they have a health problem. This report shows how people's networks are expanding to include online peers, particularly in the crucible of rare disease. Health professionals remain the central source of information for most Americans, but "peer-to-peer healthcare" is a significant supplement.

This report is based in part on a national telephone survey of 3,001 adults that provides an estimate of how widespread this activity is in the U.S. All numerical data included in the report are based on the telephone survey. The other part of the analysis is based on an online survey of 2,156 members of the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) who wrote short essays about their use of the internet in caring for themselves or for their loved ones.

Source: Pew Research Center

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Statistical Portraits of the Hispanic and Foreign-Born Populations in the U.S.

The Pew Hispanic Center recently updated its statistical profiles of Hispanics and foreign-born people in the U.S. The profiles are derived from the Census Bureau's 2009 American Community Survey (ACS), the most recent available.

The two profiles-Hispanics in the United States, 2009 and Foreign-Born Population in the United States, 2009-are national in scope. These profiles focus on the demographic and economic characteristics of Hispanics and the foreign born in the U.S. Topics covered include racial self-identification, age, geographic dispersion, nativity, citizenship, origin, language proficiency, living arrangements, marital status, fertility, schooling, health insurance coverage, earnings, poverty and other labor market outcomes. Comparisons with the white, black and total populations are also available in the statistical profiles.

Link to online reports:
Hispanics in the United States, 2009
Foreign-Born Population in the United States, 2009

Latinos and Digital Technology

Latinos are less likely than whites to access the internet, have a home broadband connection or own a cell phone, according to survey findings from the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. Latinos lag behind blacks in home broadband access but have similar rates of internet and cell phone use.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

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| Link to online overview

Friday, February 04, 2011

Generations and their gadgets


Many devices have become popular across generations, with a majority now owning cell phones, laptops and desktop computers. Younger adults are leading the way in increased mobility, preferring laptops to desktops and using their cell phones for a variety of functions, including internet, email, music, games, and video.

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| link to online summary | Download pdf questionnaire

Unauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010

As of March 2010, 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States, virtually unchanged from a year earlier, according to new estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. This stability in 2010 follows a two-year decline from the peak of 12 million in 2007 to 11.1 million in 2009 that was the first significant reversal in a two-decade pattern of growth. Unauthorized immigrants were 3.7% of the nation's population in 2010.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

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Mexico's Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of the Rising Violence

From Summary:

In Mexico, the violence generated by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) in recent years has been, according to some, unprecedented. In 2006, Mexico's newly elected President Felipe Calderón launched an aggressive campaign--an initiative that has defined his administration-- against the DTOs that has been met with a violent response from the DTOs. Government enforcement efforts have had successes in removing some of the key leaders in all of the seven major DTOs. However, these efforts have led to violent succession struggles within the DTOs themselves. In July 2010, the Mexican government announced that more than 28,000 people had been killed in drug trafficking-related violence since December 2006, when President Calderón came to office.

Source: Congressional Research Service

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

findings from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) spring 2010 data collection.

Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2009; Graduation Rates, 2003 & 2006 Cohorts; and Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2009

This First Look report presents findings from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) spring 2010 data collection. This collection included five components: Student Financial Aid for full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students for the 2009-10 academic year; Enrollment for fall 2009; Graduation Rates within 150 percent of normal program completion time for full-time, first-time degree/ certificate-seeking undergraduate students beginning college in 2003 at 4-year institutions or in 2006 at less-than-4-year institutions; Graduation Rates within 200 percent of normal program completion time for full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students beginning college in 2001 at 4-year institutions or in 2005 at less-than-4-year institutions; and Finance for fiscal year 2009.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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| Link to online description at NCES

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Cognitive Barriers to Environmental Action: Problems and Solutions

Researchers have long studied the cognitive barriers that cloud our thinking and decision-making. In a recent book chapter, HBS doctoral student Lisa L. Shu and professor Max H. Bazerman look at three barriers that can prevent clear decision-making, specifically on environmental issues. They also propose ways in which these biases could be put to advantage in promoting sound environmental policy and practice.

We highlight three cognitive barriers that impede sound individual decision making that have particular relevance to behaviors impacting the environment. First, despite claiming that they want to leave the world in good condition for future generations, people intuitively discount the future to a greater degree than can be rationally defended. Second, positive illusions lead us to conclude that energy problems do not exist or are not severe enough to merit action. Third, we interpret events in a self-serving manner, a tendency that causes us to expect others to do more than we do to solve energy problems. We then propose ways in which these biases could actually be used to our advantage in steering ourselves toward better judgment. Finally, we outline the key questions on the research frontier from the behavioral decision-making perspective and debunk the myth that behavioral and neoclassical economic perspectives need be in conflict.

Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

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Lessons Learned from U.S. Government Law Enforcement in International Operations

Brief Synopsis

Law enforcement (LE) aspects have been an increasingly prominent feature within the U.S. Government’s (USG’s) commitment to international operations. Beyond the deployment of police personnel to interim policing missions, LE agencies may also be involved in international operations to enforce U.S. domestic law; for capacity building; and/or in support of U.S. military forces. This analysis examines lessons from three operations: Panama (1989-99), Colombia (1989-Present), and Kosovo (1998-Present). This analysis was supported by an extensive range of interviews and in-country field research in Colombia and Kosovo. The lessons learned were developed and validated in a series of workshops with subject matter experts. The results show the pervasive and complex role that law enforcement and related issues have played in contemporary international operations. Despite the unique circumstances and history of each operation, there were key findings that are common to all operations considered and have implications for broader USG law enforcement efforts in support of current and future international operations.

Source: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College

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The Future of the Global Muslim Population : Projections for 2010-2030

From the Executive Summary
The world's Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35% in the next 20 years, rising from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to new population projections by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Globally, the Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades -- an average annual growth rate of 1.5% for Muslims, compared with 0.7% for non-Muslims. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4% of the world's total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4% of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

While the global Muslim population is expected to grow at a faster rate than the non-Muslim population, the Muslim population nevertheless is expected to grow at a slower pace in the next two decades than it did in the previous two decades. From 1990 to 2010, the global Muslim population increased at an average annual rate of 2.2%, compared with the projected rate of 1.5% for the period from 2010 to 2030.

Source: Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

Link to full online report with graphs