Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why people with schizophrenia may have trouble reading social cues

From Abstract of: Perception of Biological Motion in Schizophrenia and Healthy Individuals: A Behavioral and fMRI Study (PLoS One)

Anomalous visual perception is a common feature of schizophrenia plausibly associated with impaired social cognition that, in turn, could affect social behavior. Past research suggests impairment in biological motion perception in schizophrenia. Behavioral and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments were conducted to verify the existence of this impairment, to clarify its perceptual basis, and to identify accompanying neural concomitants of those deficits.

Source: Vanderbilt University

Link to Vanderbilt explanation of study online | Link to article at PLoS

Community Involvement Raises HIV Testing Rates

A new study suggests that community-based programs in rural areas can increase HIV testing in young people. Putting this type of strategy into practice might reduce risky behavior and help keep the spread of HIV in check.

View Study published in Lancet Infectious Diseases | View Online article at National Institute of Health

Critical Point of View: A Wikipedia Reader

About the book: For millions of internet users around the globe, the search for new knowledge begins with Wikipedia. The encyclopedia’s rapid rise, novel organization, and freely offered content have been marveled at and denounced by a host of commentators. Critical Point of View moves beyond unflagging praise, well-worn facts, and questions about its reliability and accuracy, to unveil the complex, messy, and controversial realities of a distributed knowledge platform.

The essays, interviews and artworks brought together in this reader form part of the overarching Critical Point of View research initiative, which began with a conference in Bangalore (January 2010), followed by events in Amsterdam (March 2010) and Leipzig (September 2010). With an emphasis on theoretical reflection, cultural difference and indeed, critique, contributions to this collection ask: What values are embedded in Wikipedia’s software? On what basis are Wikipedia’s claims to neutrality made? How can Wikipedia give voice to those outside the Western tradition of Enlightenment, or even its own administrative hierarchies? Critical Point of View collects original insights on the next generation of wiki-related research, from radical artistic interventions and the significant role of bots to hidden trajectories of encyclopedic knowledge and the politics of agency and exclusion.

Source: Institute of Network Cultures

Download pdf of reader
| Link to online overview

How social influence can undermine the wisdom of crowd effect

Social groups can be remarkably smart and knowledgeable when their averaged judgements are compared with the judgements of individuals. Already Galton [Galton F (1907) Nature 75:7] found evidence that the median estimate of a group can be more accurate than estimates of experts. This wisdom of crowd effect was recently supported by examples from stock markets, political elections, and quiz shows [Surowiecki J (2004) The Wisdom of Crowds]. In contrast, we demonstrate by experimental evidence (N = 144) that even mild social influence can undermine the wisdom of crowd effect in simple estimation tasks. In the experiment, subjects could reconsider their response to factual questions after having received average or full information of the responses of other subjects. We compare subjects’ convergence of estimates and improvements in accuracy over five consecutive estimation periods with a control condition, in which no information about others’ responses was provided. Although groups are initially “wise,” knowledge about estimates of others narrows the diversity of opinions to such an extent that it undermines the wisdom of crowd effect in three different ways. The “social influence effect” diminishes the diversity of the crowd without improvements of its collective error. The “range reduction effect” moves the position of the truth to peripheral regions of the range of estimates so that the crowd becomes less reliable in providing expertise for external observers. The “confidence effect” boosts individuals’ confidence after convergence of their estimates despite lack of improved accuracy. Examples of the revealed mechanism range from misled elites to the recent global financial crisis.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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| Link to online abstract

Global Report on Equality at Work 2011

In the new Global Report on Equality at Work 2011, the International Labour Office (ILO) notes that in spite of continuous positive advances in anti-discrimination legislation, the global economic and social crisis has led to a higher risk of discrimination against certain groups such as migrant labour.

Among the key findings of the report:

  • Significant progress has been made in recent decades in advancing gender equality in the world of work. However, the gender pay gap still exists, with women’s wages being on average 70-90 per cent of men’s. While flexible arrangements of working schedules are gradually being introduced as an element of more family-friendly policies, discrimination related to pregnancy and maternity is still common.
  • Sexual harassment is a significant problem in workplaces. Young, financially dependent, single or divorced women, and migrants are most vulnerable, while men who experience harassment tend to be young, gay or members of ethnic or racial minorities.
  • Combating racism is as relevant today as it ever was. Barriers impeding equal access to the labour market still need to be dismantled, particularly for people of African and Asian descent, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, and above all women in these groups.
  • Migrant workers face widespread discrimination in access to employment, and many encounter discrimination when employed, including access to social insurance programmes.
  • Rising numbers of women and men experience discrimination on religious grounds, while discrimination on the basis of political opinion tends to take place in the public sector, where loyalty to the policies of authorities in power can be a factor in access to employment.
  • Work-related discrimination continues to exist for many of the world’s 650 million persons with disabilities as their low employment rate reveals.
  • Persons with HIV/AIDS can suffer discrimination through mandatory testing policies, or testing under conditions which are not genuinely voluntary or confidential.
  • In the European Union, a total of 64 per cent of those surveyed expected that the economic crisis would lead to more age discrimination in the labour market.
  • In a limited number of industrialized countries, discrimination based on lifestyle has emerged as a topical issue, especially in relation to smoking and obesity.

Source: United Nations International Labor Office

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| Link to online press release

Modeling Behavior: What Motivates People to Prepare, or Not Prepare, for Natural Disasters?

A potential new laboratory approach to understanding the dynamics on individual preparedness responses to hurricane threats is described and illustrated. Termed Dynamic Information Acceleration, the approach immerses participants in a realistic simulation that recreates via the web the information dynamics that precede decisions to invest in protection against both long term (mitigation) and short-term (preparedness) hurricane threats. In addition to providing data describing how information is gathered and utilized over time to make protective decisions in light of changing beliefs about hurricane threats, it provides a tool for experimentally testing alternative policies for enhancing investments in preparedness and mitigation. A prototype system is described that is designed to measure the timing and nature of preparedness actions in response to a hypothetical hurricane threat in South Florida. Incentive- compatibility is achieved by imbedding the simulation in a time-management game played for real compensation in which participants trade off time that could be allocated to undertaking utility-generating activities such as work and recreation, with that which could be allocated to undertaking protective actions, such as putting up shutters. The findings of a pilot application of the simulation is reported, which is used to provide evidence on the effect of alternative storm- forecast graphics on overall levels of storm preparedness.

Source: Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. The Wharton School, Univ. of Pennsylvania [via knowledge@wharton]

Download full pdf publication | Link to article

Differential Benefits? Crime and Community Investments in Racially Distinct Neighborhoods

Darlene Saporu, Charles Patton, Lauren Krivo and Ruth Peterson use data from the National Neighborhood Crime Study to investigate how residential loans vary in their influence on violent and property crime across racially and ethnically distinct communities in over 8,000 neighborhoods across 87 U.S. cities.

Source: Race and Justice [via the sentencing project]

Download full pdf publication | Link to the sentencing project newsletter

How U.S. Older Adults Provide Care for Their Aging Parents, Adult Children, and Friends

As part of PRB's 2010-2011 Policy Seminar series, Suzanne Bianchi, a University of California Los Angeles sociology professor, examined new research on caregiving in later life—a time when men and women may spend their time in similar ways as they enter their retirement years. The study, conducted with Joan Kahn and Brittany McGill of the University of Maryland, explored whether retirement and marital status made a difference in how men and women helped others. Specifically, they set out to learn whether men replaced paid work with time spent helping others after retirement and whether divorced people spent less time caring for kin, reflecting weakened family ties.

The findings shed light on the costs of caregiving and the quality of life of older people, according to Bianchi. While unpaid caregiving economically disadvantages women by keeping them out of the paid labor force, "there's a flip cost for men," she said. Men who do not help others may be "socially disconnected" and not integrated into the kind of meaningful relationships important at older ages.

Source: Population Reference Bureau

This second Saga Quarterly Report once again combines Saga survey data (a nationwide Survey of 11,800 over 50s) with economic analysis and interpretation of official statistics to produce as accurate a picture of life for the over 50s in the UK as we can. As well as examining issues such as income, unemployment and inflation affecting the Saga age groups, it features the Saga Quality of Life Index which measures perceptions of happiness, standards of living and health. All survey comparisons are made with one year previously unless stated otherwise.

The survey data shows many over 50s cutting back on small pleasures compared to a year ago, in response to a squeeze on their incomes. Over 60% say they have reduced their non-essential spending. They are spending less on eating out, holidays, entertainment and hair and beauty. Worryingly, 15% have even had to reduce essential spending, including heating. These spending cutbacks have worrying implications for the whole nation - if older consumers rein in their discretionary spending this will lead to fewer jobs for younger people.

Source: The Saga Group

Download full pdf report | Link to online introduction

Monday, May 23, 2011

Phone-Hacking, Muck-Raking, and the Future of Surveillance

The ongoing police investigation into phone-hacking in Britain by the tabloid News of the World has revealed the widespread use of surveillance techniques by private actors, with predictable outrage expressed at the violations of privacy. Yet the recent inquiries only began in earnest after a major story in the New York Times.

This is the paradox of today’s media: investigative journalism is often key to revealing abuses of surveillance powers, yet the commercial reality of today's market drives unscrupulous journalists themselves towards ever more dubious methods.

That market has been radically altered by the "new media", with WikiLeaks as its poster-child - ably exploiting the Internet's capacity for widespread dissemination of data, but at the expense of credible efforts at analysis or minimizing the potential harm to named individuals. It is "journalism" by quantity rather than quality.

These two trends - muck-raking and unfiltered dissemination - become all the more serious when linked to the extraordinary tools of surveillance available to government and, increasingly, private actors.

Source: New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers. Paper 274.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Is College Worth It? College Presidents, Public Assess Value, Quality and Mission of Higher Education

This report is based on findings from a pair of Pew Research Center surveys conducted this spring. One is a telephone survey taken among a nationally representative sample of 2,142 adults ages 18 and older. The other is an online survey, done in association with the Chronicle of Higher Education, among the presidents of 1,055 two-year and four-year private, public and for-profit colleges and universities.

Source: Pew Research Center

Download full pdf report | Link to executive summary | Link to interactive charts at Pew Research Center

The Story So Far: What We Know About the Business of Digital Journalism

Can digital journalism be profitable? What's making money, what isn't, and why? A new report from Columbia University faculty members Bill Grueskin, academic dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and Ava Seave, principal at Quantum Media and adjunct professor at the Columbia Business School, addresses these questions about the financial state of digital journalism. The report provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of the business challenges that for-profit news organizations face with their digital ventures. The report is being issued by the school's Tow Center for Digital Journalism, which is committed to the research and advancement of journalism on digital platforms.

Source: Columbia School of Journalism

Download full pdf publication | Link to online press announcement

Online Reputations: A Nature poll reveals how researchers guard, and sometimes burnish, their online image.

The Internet offers ways for researchers to steer public perceptions, for bad and good.

“My reputation grows with every failure,” said Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw. And that was before the Internet. Shaw would no doubt be amazed by how quickly electronic bulletin boards such as Facebook and Twitter can now spread the word of deeds both good and bad.

Online reputation is important to most researchers, and about 10% of respondents to our survey complained that they or their work have been misrepresented on the Internet. The web has a long memory, and rumours, lies and bad information can spiral out of control to be remembered by posterity.

Source: Nature

Link to online editorial | Link to Nature article | Link to survey infographic

The Social Life of Health Information, 2011

From the online overview:
The internet has changed people’s relationships with information. Our data consistently show that doctors, nurses, and other health professionals continue to be the first choice for most people with health concerns, but online resources, including advice from peers, are a significant source of health information in the U.S.

As broadband and mobile access spreads, more people have the ability – and increasingly, the habit – of sharing what they are doing or thinking. In health care this translates to people tracking their workout routines, posting reviews of their medical treatments, and raising awareness about certain health conditions.

These are not yet mainstream activities, but there are pockets of highly-engaged patients and caregivers who are taking an active role in tracking and sharing what they have learned.

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

Download full pdf publication | Download topline questionnaire | Link to online overview

Friday, May 13, 2011

The 2011 State of K-12 Cyberethics, Cybersafety and Cybersecurity Curriculum in the United States

From the online description:
The 2011 State of K-12 Cyberethics, Cybersafety and Cybersecurity Curriculum in the United States is a survey presented by the National Cyber Security Alliance and Microsoft. Building on the NCSA’s previous K-12 studies from 2008 and 2010, this year’s survey further explores the perceptions and practices of U.S. teachers, school administrators and technology coordinators in regards to cyberethics, cybersafety and cybersecurity education. This year’s survey finds that young people still are not receiving adequate training and that teachers are ill-prepared to teach the subjects due, in large part, to lack of professional

Source: National Cyber Security Alliance and Microsoft

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| Download pdf fact sheet | Link to online description

Rethinking Music: A Briefing Book

Table of Contents

Introduction and Acknowledgments
Rethinking Music: A Framing Paper / The Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Voluntary Payment Models / Yochai Benkler
Music Rights Clearances and Public Media / Jay Fialkov
A Copyright Exception for Monetizing File-Sharing: A Proposal for Balancing User Freedom and Author Remuneration in the Brazilian Copyright Law Reform / Volker Grassmuck (Note: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution — Share Alike 3.0 Brazil License.)
Rethinking Music: The Future of Making Money as a Performing Artist / Panos Panay
Cloud-Based Music Services: Legal Issues to Consider / Cary Sherman and Jonathan Potter (Note: All rights reserved. Used here with permission.)
Inflation and US Music Mechanicals, 1976–2010 / Peter Alhadeff and Caz McChrystal (Note: Lead article, Global Business and Economics Review, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2011, 1-12. Reprinted here with permission. Copyright © 2011 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.)
Artist Revenue Streams: A Multi-Method Research Project Examining Changes in Musicians’ Sources of Income / Kristin Thomson and Jean Cook

Source: The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

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| Link to online introduction and chapter download

Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition and Productivity

Analyzing large data sets—so called big data—will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation, and consumer surplus as long as the right policies and enablers are in place.

Research by MGI and McKinsey's Business Technology Office examines the state of digital data and documents the significant value that can potentially be unlocked.

Source: McKinsey Research Publications

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| Download executive summary | Link to online introduction

Digital Images of Yale’s Vast Cultural Collections Now Available for Free

From the Press Release:
Scholars, artists and other individuals around the world will enjoy free access to online images of millions of objects housed in Yale's museums, archives, and libraries thanks to a new "Open Access" policy that the University announced today. Yale is the first Ivy League university to make its collections accessible in this fashion, and already more than 250,000 images are available through a newly developed collective catalog.

The goal of the new policy is to make high quality digital images of Yale's vast cultural heritage collections in the public domain openly and freely available.

As works in these collections become digitized, the museums and libraries will make those images that are in the public domain freely accessible. In a departure from established convention, no license will be required for the transmission of the images and no limitations will be imposed on their use. The result is that scholars, artists, students, and citizens the world over will be able to use these collections for study, publication, teaching and inspiration.

Link to Yale Digital Commons

Higher Education in the Middle East: America's Legacy [transcript]

Many of the things that America has tried to export to the Middle East, such as freedom and democracy, are in disrepute. Even so, there is one thing that hasn't lost its capacity to inspire, and that is an American-style education, which, in fact, might just hold the key to improving U.S. diplomatic relationships.

Source: Carnegie Council

Link to read transcript: Higher Education in the Middle East: America's Legacy (Audio also available)

Mill, Gender Ideal and Gender Oppression: Do Feminists Need to Abolish Gender Roles?

From the abstract:
Many feminists – and particularly liberal feminists- feel that human beings cannot develop their true potential until they would live in a society where men and women have complete equality. One solution to this problem is to abolish gender roles, or to value social and legal norms because they promote gender neutrality. Because actual gender roles are shaped by patriarchy, the elimination of gender roles would open up possibilities for human emancipation.

Source: Thinking Gender Papers, UCLA Center for the Study of Women, UC Los Angeles

Download full pdf publication | Link to online abstract via eScholarship repository

Rough Nights: The Growing Dangers of Working at Night

This report explores the lives of those people who work at night: the men and women who keep our hospitals open, clean our offices, allow us to cancel lost credit cards, serve us drinks in a club or drive us home afterwards. It tells their stories. Who are they? What jobs do they do? Why do they work at night? How does night work affect them? What impact does it have on their social and family lives?

Night work is not a new phenomenon; evidence of working night shifts goes back at least as far as Roman times and levels rose during the Industrial Revolution. However, it was the transformation to heavily mechanised industrial processes during the 20th century - and the proliferation of electric lighting - which saw dramatic increases in round-the-clock working. Modern industry is dependent on expensive equipment that becomes more cost-effective if it is operating, and therefore manned, 24 hours a day.

Source: The Young Foundation

Download full pdf report | Link to online abstract at the Young Foundation

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Outbrain inaugural study on how people discover and engage with content on the web

looked at traffic patterns from 100 million sessions across more than 100 premium publishers that are currently using our platform to see how readers are accessing content, where they’re finding it and how they’re engaging with that content. We’ve compiled this data into our inaugural report, and our hope is to use this as a benchmark against future quarterly trend analysis.

Source: Outbrain Research

Download full pdf publication | Link to Outbrain online announcement

UK: Education and Skills Survey 2011

From the Press Release:

Employers are concerned with the basic skills levels of school and college leavers, the CBI / EDI annual Education & Skills survey 2011 revealed today (Monday).

The CBI /EDI survey of 566 employers shows 42% are not satisfied with the basic use of English by school and college leavers, while more than a third (35%) are concerned with the basic numeracy skills in this age group. To address the weaknesses in basic skills, almost half (44%) of employers have had to invest in remedial training for school and college leavers.

The survey shows that young people are not in a position to make informed choices about their future career because of inadequate advice in schools and colleges. Only 6% of businesses are confident that advice is good enough, while 64% think advice must improve. There is an appetite among employers to play a greater role in delivering careers advice, with 54% willing to do more, rising to 66% of large firms.

Companies also found school and college leavers lacking in important employability skills, with 69% saying they have inadequate business and customer awareness, and over half (55%) experiencing weaknesses in school leavers’ self-management skills. Two thirds (70%) want to see these made a top priority at school and college.

Source: Confederation of British Industry

Download full pdf publication | Link to online press release

Monday, May 09, 2011

Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology

From the online overview:
With the economy still struggling and the nation involved in multiple military operations overseas, the public’s political mood is fractious. In this environment, many political attitudes have become more doctrinaire at both ends of the ideological spectrum, a polarization that reflects the current atmosphere in Washington.

Yet at the same time, a growing number of Americans are choosing not to identify with either political party, and the center of the political spectrum is increasingly diverse. Rather than being moderate, many of these independents hold extremely strong ideological positions on issues such as the role of government, immigration, the environment and social issues. But they combine these views in ways that defy liberal or conservative orthodoxy.

For political leaders in both parties, the challenge is not only one of appeasing ideological and moderate “wings” within their coalitions, but rather holding together remarkably disparate groups, many of whom have strong disagreements with core principles that have defined each party’s political character in recent years.

The most visible shift in the political landscape since Pew Research’s previous political typology in early 2005 is the emergence of a single bloc of across-the-board conservatives. The long-standing divide between economic, pro-business conservatives and social conservatives has blurred.

Source: Pew Research Center

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| Download topline questionnaire (pdf) | Read online overview

U.S. National Science Foundation: Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)


The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) was authorized by Congress in 1978, partly in response to concerns in Congress and the concerns of some in academia and the scientific community about the geographic distribution of federal research and development (R&D) funds. It was argued that there was a concentration of federal R&D funds in large and wealthy states and universities, and that the continuation of such funding patterns might ensure a dichotomy between the "haves" and "have-nots." EPSCoR began in 1979 with five states and funding of approximately $1.0 million. Currently, EPSCoR operates in 29 jurisdictions, including 27 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. To date, the NSF has invested approximately $920.0 million in EPSCoR programs and activities. When established, it operated solely in the NSF. EPSCoR was expanded in the mid 1980s and early 1990s; by 1998, seven other agencies had established EPSCoR or EPSCoR-like programs. EPSCoR is a university-oriented program, with the goal of identifying, developing, and utilizing the academic science and technology resources in a state that will lead to increased R&D competitiveness. The program is a partnership between NSF and a state to improve the R&D competitiveness through the state's academic science and technology (S&T) infrastructure. Eventually, it is hoped that those states receiving limited federal support would improve their ability to compete successfully for federal and private sector funds through the regular grant system. Some have questioned the length of time states should receive EPSCoR support. It continues to be called an experimental program after 28 years, and observers have noted that no state has yet to graduate, or leave the program. In August 2005, the NSF's Committee of Visitors (COV) released a review of the EPSCoR program for the period FY2000 through FY2004. One of the issues in the review was centered on determining when states would become independent of EPSCoR resources. The COV acknowledged that graduation/progression from the EPSCoR program is a "challenging" issue and it has become necessary to revisit what it means to graduate from the program. The NSF FY2012 budget request proposes $160.5 million for EPSCoR activities, approximately $13.4 million (9.1%) above the FY2010 enacted level of $147.1 million. (As of this writing, a full-year FY2011 appropriation has not been enacted; therefore NSF is operating under a continuing resolution.) The FY2012 request supports a portfolio of three complementary investment strategies--research infrastructure improvement ($116.1 million), co-funding ($42.8 million), and outreach ($1.7 million). NSF indicates that approximately 24.0% of the funding for EPSCoR is to be used for new research awards in the FY2012 request. The remaining is to be used to provide continuing support for grants made in previous years. This report will be updated periodically.

Source: Congressional Research Service

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Latin America’s New World of Work: Changing Traits of Work and Problem Solving

From the introduction:

Much attention has been paid to the growth of “informality” or “informal employment,” and it has been suggested that informality affects the capacity of workers to promote their interests. We move beyond the concept of informality and its multiple definitions and operationalizations to specify what precisely it is about informality that may have an effect on interest representation or participation in collective activities. We refer to these factors as the “operative traits” of the world of work, and we include variables that reflect various conceptualizations of formality and informality: work-based resources for problem solving (size of work-based network, access to unions, union experience), the precariousness of employment (income volatility, job instability), and the regulation of employment (contract status, social security status).
In this study, we explore the way these conditions of work and workplace organization may have a fundamental effect on interest representation both at work and in the political arena. How, do these conditions affect the capacity of workers to address materialist problems historically addressed by unions? Specifically, what aspects of the world of work influence the ability of the working classes to engage in a range of what we will call “problem-solving activities?” Further, to what extent do these aspects of the world of work affect the capacity to act around productionist (e.g. wages, working conditions), consumptionist (e.g. neighborhood improvement and service delivery), and political problems (e.g. corruption, crime), particularly given the high salience of the first of these?

Source: Working Paper Series, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley

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Socioeconomic Status in Childhood and Health After Age 70: A New Longitudinal Analysis for the U.S., 1895-2005

The link between circumstances faced by individuals early in life (including those encountered in utero) and later life outcomes has been of increasing interest since the work of Barker in the 1970s on birth weight and adult disease. We provide such a life course perspective for the U.S. by following 45,000 U.S.-born males from the household where they resided before age 5 until their death and analyzing the link between the characteristics of their childhood environment – particularly, its socioeconomic status – and their longevity and specific cause of death. Individuals living before age 5 in lower SES households (measured by father’s occupation and family home ownership) die younger and are more likely to die from heart disease than those living in higher SES households. The pathways potentially generating these effects are discussed.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

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| Link to NBER online summary

Friday, May 06, 2011

Top 10 issues facing higher education

Amidst shrinking resources and rising demands, it is becoming clear that higher education institutions can no longer maintain the status quo. To achieve their mandates and serve their constituencies, they must transform the way they do business.

To help, Deloitte education practitioners around the world collaborated to create Making the grade 2011: A study of the top 10 issues facing higher education institutions. In this report, educational institutions will find essential strategies they must consider as they seek to address their challenges, as well as some fresh thinking on key institutional drivers. Beyond simply helping colleges and universities survive current economic hardship, these strategies can help institutions reinvent themselves to meet evolving educational needs.

Source: Deloitte

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| Link to online overview
This article focuses on the Rape Shield Laws and their evolution in the United States, one of the pioneers in this field. The article also discusses constitutional and feminist critiques of present Rape Shield Laws, and ends with a comparative perspective throughout the Anglo-American legal space today. Finally, although the Rape Shield Laws can be approached from a variety of discourses, this article engages specifically with a discourse that intersects legal and feminist analyses.

Source: Working Papers in Feminist Research, UCLA Center for the Study of Women, UC Los Angeles [via eScholarship Repository]

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Fast Food, Slow Death and the Propaganda of Health: Jewel Thais-Williams’ Radical Battle for Black Survival

A presentation given at Thinking Gender 2011, this paper addresses the issues of food choices in South Los Angeles, how those choices affect the community, and highlight the work of the activist Jewel Thaïs-Williams.

Source: Thinking Gender Papers, UCLA Center for the Study of Women, UC Los Angeles [via eScholarship repository

Download full pdf publication | Link to online report

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Nation’s Report Card: Civics 2010

Students make progress in civics at grade 4 but not at grades 8 and 12

Students in grades 4, 8, and 12 participated in the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in civics. At each grade, students responded to questions designed to measure their civics knowledge, intellectual and participatory skills, and civic dispositions. Comparing the results from the 2010 assessment to results from two previous assessment years (1998 and 2006) shows how students' knowledge and skills in civics have progressed over time.

Source: Institute for Education Sciences

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| Link to online summary

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Public "Relieved" By bin Laden's Death, Obama's Job Approval Rises

An overnight survey of 654 adults, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post finds that 72% say they feel "relieved" by Osama bin Laden's death, while 60% feel "proud" and 58% say they are "happy." Far fewer, just 16%, say the news of bin Laden's death makes them feel "afraid."

Barack Obama's job approval rating has jumped in the wake of bin Laden's killing. In the one-day survey, 56% say they approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president while 38% disapprove. Last month, Obama's job rating was about evenly divided -- 47% approved, 45% disapproved. Obama has gotten about the same boost in job approval as did former President Bush in the days after the U.S. military's capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003. Following Saddam's capture, Bush's rating rose from 50% to 57%. (A more comprehensive survey will be conducted May 5-8 to follow up on these preliminary reactions to the death of bin Laden and Obama's job performance.)

Source: Pew Center for People and the Press

Download full pdf report | Link to online report | Download topline questionnaire

Monday, May 02, 2011

Women in the United States Congress: 1917-2011

Ninety-one women currently serve in the 112th Congress: 74 in the House (50 Democrats and 24 Republicans) and 17 in the Senate (12 Democrats and 5 Republicans). Ninety-two women were initially sworn in to the 112th Congress, but one Democratic House Member has since resigned. This number (92) is lower than the record number of 95 women who were initially elected to the 111th Congress. The first woman elected to Congress was Representative Jeannette Rankin (R-MT, 1917-1919, 1941-1943). The first woman to serve in the Senate was Rebecca Latimer Felton (D-GA). She was appointed in 1922 and served for only one day. A total of 274 women have served in Congress, 174 Democrats and 100 Republicans. Of these women, 235 (149 Democrats, 86 Republicans) have served only in the House of Representatives; 31 (19 Democrats, 12 Republicans) have served only in the Senate; and 8 (6 Democrats, 2 Republicans) have served in both houses. These figures include one non-voting Delegate each from Guam, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Edith Nourse Rogers (R-MA), who served in the House for 35 years, holds the record for length of service by a woman in Congress. Currently serving Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) holds the record for Senate service by a woman with 24 years. Of the 39 women who have served in the Senate, 14 were first appointed, and 5 were first elected to fill unexpired terms. Nine were chosen to fill vacancies caused by the death of their husbands, and one to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of her father. Of these 10, 3 were subsequently elected to additional terms. Hattie Caraway (D-AR, 1931-1945) was the first Senator to succeed her husband and the first woman elected to a six-year Senate term. A total of 31 African American or black women have served in Congress (1 in the Senate, 30 in the House), including the 15 serving in the 112th Congress. Eight Hispanic women have been elected to the House; seven serve in the 112th Congress. Six Asian American women have served in the House, including four in the 112th Congress. Eighteen women in the House, and 10 women in the Senate, have chaired committees. In the 112th Congress, one woman chairs a House committee, and five women chair Senate committees, with one female Senator chairing two committees. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House, in the 110th and 111th Congresses. This report identifies the names, committee assignments, dates of service, and (for Representatives) congressional districts of the 274 women who have served in Congress. It will be updated when there are relevant changes in the makeup of Congress.

Source: Congressional Research Service

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Overview of Immigration Issues in the 112th Congress

There is a broad-based consensus that the U.S. immigration system is broken. This consensus erodes, however, as soon as the options to reform the U.S. immigration system are debated. Substantial efforts to comprehensively reform immigration law failed in the 109th and 110th Congresses. Whether the 112th Congress will address immigration reform in the midst of historically high levels of unemployment and budgetary constrictions is difficult to project. The number of foreign-born people residing in the United States is at the highest level in U.S. history and has reached a proportion of the U.S. population--12.5%--not seen since the early 20th century. Of the 38 million foreign-born residents in the United States, approximately 16.4 million are naturalized citizens. The remaining 21.6 million foreign-born residents are noncitizens. According to the latest estimates by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), about 10.8 million unauthorized aliens were living in the United States in January 2010, down from a peak of 11.8 million in January 2007. Some observers and policy experts maintain that the presence of millions of unauthorized residents is evidence of inadequacies in the legal immigration system as well as failures of immigration control policies and practices. This report synthesizes immigration issues as a multi-tiered debate. It breaks down the U.S. immigration law and policy into key elements: border control and visa security; legal immigration; documentation and verification; interior immigration enforcement; integration, status, and benefits; and refugees and other humanitarian populations.

Source: Congressional Research Service

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World Bank: Atlas of Global Development

The new 3rd edition of The Atlas of Global Development — a comprehensive guide to the most critical issues facing our changing world presents a comprehensive overview of the world and its people at the start of the 21st century. Every topic is presented through easy-to-read graphical presentations including colorful world maps, charts, tables, graphs, photographs and web addresses of additional data sources.

Source: World Bank

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The Latino Electorate in 2010: More Voters, More Non-Voters

More than 6.6 million Latinos voted in last year's election—a record for a midterm—according to an analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center. Fueled by their rapid population growth, Latinos also were a larger share of the electorate in 2010 than in any previous midterm election, representing 6.9% of all voters, up from 5.8% in 2006. At the same time, however, the number of Latino non-voters among those who are eligible to vote has also increased. This increase contributed to a decline in the voter turnout rate among Latinos—down from 32.3% in 2006 to 31.2% in 2010.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

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An Unlucky Feeling: Persistent Overestimation of Absolute Performance with Noisy Feedback

How does overconfidence arise and persist in the face of experience and feedback? We examine experimentally how individuals' beliefs about their absolute, as opposed to relative, performance on a quiz react to noisy, but unbiased, feedback. Participants believe themselves to have received `unlucky' feedback and they overestimate their own scores, but they exhibit no overconfidence in non-ego-relevant beliefs---in this case, about others' scores. Unlike previous studies of relative performance estimates, we find this to be driven by overconfident priors, as opposed to biased updating, which suggests that social comparisons contribute to biased information processing. While feedback improves performance estimates, this learning does not translate into improved estimates of subsequent performances. This suggests that people use performance feedback to update their beliefs about their ability differently than they do to update their beliefs about their performance, contributing to the persistence of overconfidence.

Source: Departmental Working Papers, Department of Economics, UCSB, UC Santa Barbara

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How Robust Is Muslim Support for Patriarchal Values? A Cross-National Multi-Level Study

Evidence that Muslims support patriarchal values more than Non-Muslims is abundant but the nature of this evidence is contested. The ‘cultural’ interpretation suggests that patriarchal values are an inherent element of Muslim identity. The ‘structural’ interpretation holds that patriarchal values reside in structural characteristics and have little to do with Muslim identity. Evidence on these contradictory claims is inconclusive. Neither have advocates of the cultural position shown that Muslim support for patriarchal values remains robust under control of structural characteristics; nor have proponents of the structural position demonstrated that Muslim support for these values vanishes under such controls. Filling this gap, we use multi-level models to test whether Muslim support for patriarchal values vanishes under control of patriarchy’s structural underpinnings. We find that Muslim support for patriarchal values is robust against various controls. And, we identify mosque attendance as a mechanism to sustain Muslim support for patriarchy in Non-Muslim societies. Yet, rising levels of education, labor market participation, and a glacial emancipative trend diminish Muslim support for patriarchy, especially among women.

Source: Center for the Study of Democracy, UC Irvine [via eScholarship Repository]

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A Test of Racial Bias in Capital Sentencing

This paper proposes a test of racial bias in capital sentencing based upon patterns of judicial errors in lower courts. We model the behavior of the trial court as minimizing a weighted sum of the probability of sentencing an innocent and that of letting a guilty defendant free. We define racial bias as a situation where the relative weight on the two types of errors is a function of defendant and/or victim race. The key prediction of the model is that if the court is unbiased, ex post the error rate should be independent of the combination of defendant and victim race. We test this prediction using an original dataset that contains the race of the defendant and of the victim(s) for all capital appeals that became final between 1973 and 1995. We find robust evidence of bias against minority defendants who killed white victims: In Direct Appeal and Habeas Corpus the probability of error in these cases is 3 and 9 percentage points higher, respectively, than for minority defendants who killed minority victims.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

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Title Are Institutions and Empiricism Enough? A Review of Allen Buchanan, Human Rights, Legitimacy, and the Use of Force

Legal philosophers have given relatively little attention to international law in comparison to other topics, and philosophers working on international or global justice have not taken international law as a primary focus, either. Allen Buchanan’s recent work is arguably the most important exception to these trends. For over a decade he has devoted significant time and philosophical skill to questions central to international law, and has tied these concerns to related issues of global justice more generally. In what follows I review Buchanan’s new collection of essays, Human Rights, Legitimacy, and the Use of Force, paying special attention to Buchanan’s argument that the philosophy of international law must be more “empirically informed” than it has been so far, and also to his claim that greater emphasis must be placed on the role of institutions. While these are important claims, I show that Buchanan often does not take the first far enough, and that appealing to institutions cannot do as much as Buchanan hopes or needs if his substantive conclusions are to be correct.

Source: Scholarship at Penn Law. Paper 370.

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