Colloquia - Fall 2014


IPR Colloquia

Jeremy Freese

Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and IPR Fellow, and Co-Director of Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS)

"Do We Need Population-Based Survey Experiments?"

Abstract:  Population-based survey experiements are intended to combine the power of experiments for causal inference with the power of surveys for population generalization. As a way of doing experimental behavioral science, survey experiments have traditionally been contrasted with laboratory experiments on undergraduates. More recently, however, there has been exploding interest in using crowdsource platforms-most notably, Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk-for conducting experiments. These platforms allow for an ostensibly much more diverse pool than undergraduate samples, for even less cost. But can the world's most convenient convenience sample be used to address the public opinion and policy-oriented questions that have been the major focus for population-based survey experiments? The premise strikes many as madness, but if so, it is empirically testable madness. With several collaborators, Freese has used MTurk to attempt to replicate a variety of different experiments that were originally fielded on probability samples. He will present the results of these inquiries and their implications for the future of experimentation in population-oriented sciences.

October 6, 2014 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Nolan McCarty

Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

"Geography, Uncertainty, and Polarization"

Abstract:  Using new data on roll-call votes of U.S. state legislators and measures of public opinion in their districts, McCarty and his colleagues explain how ideological polarization of voters within districs can lead to legislative polarization. Many of the so-called "moderate" districts that switch hands between Democrats and Republicans are internally polarized. The ideological distance between Democrats and Republicans within these districts is often greater than the distance between liberal cities and conservative rural areas. The researchers present a theoretical model in which intradistric ideological polarization causes candidates to be uncertain about the ideological location of the median voter, thereby reducing their incentives to moderate their policy positions. They then demonstrate that in districs with similar median voter ideologies, the difference in roll-call voting behavior between Democratic and Republican state legislators is greater when there is more within-distric ideological heterogeneity. The researchers' findings suggest that accounting for the subtleties of political geography can help explainthe coexistence of a polarized legislature and a moderate mass public.

October 13, 2014 • Harris Hall, Room 108, 1881 Sheridan Rd. • IPR


Anthony Chen

Associate Professor of Sociology and IPR Fellow

"Affirmative Action in College Admissions: Forgotten Histories, Future Possibilities”

Abstract:  The origins of race-conscious affirmative action programs in college admissions remain poorly understood. Previous accounts suggest that they were reactively instituted by pragmatically minded university administrators hoping to mitigate campus and urban disruption during the late 1960s. Based on fine-grained archival research in the institutional records of Cornell University, the University of Michigan, and the University of California, Los Angeles, the researchers find that the earliest race-conscious affirmative action programs were initially adopted in the early 1960s by university administrators who found the “open door” policies of their predecessors inadequate and who were inspired by the moral demands of the civil rights movement to experiment with new initiatives that took racial considerations into account. The design, emphasis, and operation of these early programs raise potentially interesting possibilities for thinking about the future of affirmative action.

October 20, 2014 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Michael Frakes

Associate Professor of Law and IPR Fellow

"Is the Time Allocated to Review Patent Applications Inducing Examiners to Grant Invalid Patents? Evidence from Microlevel Application Data"

Abstract:  This working paper explores how examiner behavior is altered by the time allocated for reviewing a patent application. Insufficient examination time might crowd out examiner search effort, impeding the ability to form time-intensive, prior art-based rejections (especially obviousness rejections), thus leaving examiners more inclined to grant otherwise invalid applications. To test this prediction, Frakes and Melissa Wasserman of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign trace the behavior of individual examiners over the course of a series of certain promotions that carry with them a substantial reduction in expected examination time. For these purposes, the researchers use novel microlevel application data spanning a 10-year period and estimate examiner fixed-effects specifications that allow them to control flexibly for examiner heterogeneity. They find evidence demonstrating that search efforts and time-intensive rejections indeed fall—while granting tendencies rise—upon the promotions of interest. Assuming that patent examiners will tend to make the correct patentability determinations when provided sufficient examination time, the results suggest that the present schedule of time allotments could be inducing patent examiners to grant patents that otherwise fail to meet the patentability requirements

October 27, 2014 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Jennifer Richeson

MacArthur Chair; Professor of Psychology, and IPR Fellow

"Coalition or Derogation? Psychological Perspectives on Race Relations in the 21st Century"

Abstract:  History tells us that coalitions formed among members of different societally stigmatized groups often engender transformational social movements. Sadly, history also demonstrates how very fragile these coalitions typically are. The present research considers how salient discrimination affects the potential for cross-group coalition building. Specifically, in a series of studies, members of one stigmatized group are reminded of the discrimination faced by their group and then are subsequently asked to evaluate other stigmatized groups. For instance, how does addressing the sexism that women face affect white women’s attitudes toward and policy preferences regarding racial and sexual minorities? Do we see coalition, or rather, derogation of these fellow stigmatized groups? Implications for relations among members of different stigmatized groups in the face of an increasingly diverse, 21st century North America are discussed.

November 3, 2014 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Panel Moderated by

Daniel Galvin

Associate Professor of Political Science and IPR Fellow

Laurel Harbridge

Assistant Professor of Political Science and IPR Fellow

Rachel Davis Mersey

Associate Professor of Journalism and IPR Fellow

"2014 Midterms: Post-Election Analysis"

Abstract:  Coming Soon

November 10, 2014 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Claudia Haase

Assistant Professor of Human Development and Social Policy and IPR Associate

"The Bright Side of Aging"

Abstract:  Across the globe, populations are “graying” as birth rates decrease and life expectancies increase. We oftenthink of aging as a process of decline and loss. However, certain aspects of socioemotional and motivational functioning are spared from age-related decline and can even improve with age. In this talk, Haase will present findings on (1) how aspects of socioemotional functioning (e.g., interpersonal emotional behavior, trust) differ between younger and older adults and change with age; (2) how genetic variants shape individuals’ emotional reactivity to different environments and lead them onto different developmental trajectories; and (3) how behavioral factors (e.g., physical activity) might protect against agerelated neurodegeneration and cognitive decline. These findings are based on insights from lifespan developmental psychology, affective and motivation science, and neuroscience. They draw from large-scale survey studies and intensive laboratory-based studies that use behavioral observations, as well as psychophysiological and neuroimaging methods.

November 17, 2014 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Ann Borders

Adjunct Assistant Professor in Medical Social Sciences and Center for Healthcare Studies, Institute for Public Health and Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine; and IPR Associate

"Measurement of Maternal Stress in Pregnancy"

Abstract:  Preterm birth is the major cause of U.S. perinatal morbidity. Although multiple studies have shown an association between maternal stress and adverse birth outcomes, results are inconsistent. This might be related to the diversity of tools used to operationalize stress. In addition, scales that simply tally experienced stressful events might not account for the relevant internal response to external stressors and might not accurately assess chronic stress that could be of more physiologic importance for pregnancy outcomes. It is likely that the link between chronic stress and preterm birth remains uncertain due to a lack of adequate measures of maternal stress. Preliminary work has linked self-reported and biologic measures of stress to adverse birth outcomes, chronic placental inflammation, and racial differences in stress among pregnant women and identified opportunities for item reduction of self-reported stress measures. Borders and her colleagues are conducting a multicenter collaborative study of 700 pregnant women to develop and evaluate optimal assessments of maternal stress and stress biology in human pregnancy.

November 24, 2014 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Bruce Spencer

Professor of Statistics and IPR Fellow

"Measuring Benefits from Improving Accuracy of the 2020 Census: Apportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives and Allocation of Federal Funds"

Abstract:  In order to know how much accuracy is needed for the 2020 Census—with the appreciation that accuracy is expensive—we need to understand how the census results get used. In this talk, Spencer considers two high profile uses of the census: apportionment and fund allocation. Apportionment of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives is based on census numbers, and distortions in the census results lead to distortions in numbers of seats allocated to the states. Spencer and his colleagues expect that roughly $5 trillion in federal grant and direct assistance monies will be distributed at least partly on the basis of population and income data following the 2020 census, and distortions in census results cause distortions in the allocations of funds. The researchers present loss functions to quantify the distortions in apportionment and fund allocations, and they describe empirical analyses to estimate the expected loss arising from alternative profiles of accuracy in state population numbers

December 1, 2014 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


IPR Seminar on Performance Measurement

Kirabo Jackson

Associate Professor of Human Development and Social Policy and IPR Fellow

“Noncognitive Ability, Test Scores, and Teacher Quality: Evidence from 9th Grade Teachers in North Carolina”

Abstract:   Jackson presents a model where teacher effects on long-run outcomes reflect effects on both cognitive skills (measured by test scores) and noncognitive skills (measured by non test-score outcomes). In administrative data, teachers have causal effects on test scores and student absences, suspensions, grades, and on-time grade progression. Teacher effects on a weighted average of these non test-score outcomes (a proxy for noncognitive skills) predict teacher effects on dropouts, high school completion rates, and college entrance exam-taking above and beyond their effects on test scores. Accordingly, test-score effects alone fail to identify excellent teachers and might understate the importance of teachers for longer-run outcomes.

November 5, 2014 • IPR Conference Room, 617 Library Place. • IPR/SPM


Q-Center Colloquia

Jerry Reiter

Mrs. Alexander Hehmeyer Professor of Statistical Science, Duke University

"An Integrated Approach to Providing Access to Confidential Social Science Data"

Abstract:  Large-scale databases from the social, behavioral, and economic sciences offer enormous potential benefits to society. However, as most stewards of social science data are acutely aware, wide-scale dissemination of such data can result in unintended disclosures of data subjects’ identities and sensitive attributes, thereby violating promises—and in some instances laws—to protect data subjects’ privacy and confidentiality. In this talk, Reiter describes a vision of an integrated system for disseminating large-scale social science data. The system includes (i) the capability to generate highly redacted, synthetic data intended for wide access, coupled with (ii) a means for approved researchers to access the confidential data via secure remoteaccess solutions, glued together by (iii) a verification server that allows users to assess the quality of their analyses with the redacted data so as to be more efficient with their use of remote-data access. He describes some of the methodological challenges to releasing synthetic data and allowing automated verification; and describes methods to address those challenges.

October 8, 2014 • IPR Conference Room, 617 Library Place • IPR/Q-Center


Joint IPR/Economics Education & Labor Seminars

Seth Zimmerman

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Industrial Relations Section, Princeton University

“Making Top Managers: The Role of Elite Universities and Elite Peers”

Abstract: This paper estimates the causal effect of elite college admission on students’ chances of reaching top management positions. Zimmerman constructs a novel dataset linking archival records of applications to elite colleges in Chile to the census of corporate directors and executive managers at publicly traded Chilean firms. He combines these data with a regression discontinuity design to estimate the causal effect of admission on leadership outcomes. Elite admission raises the number of leadership positions students hold by 50 percent, but gains are larger for students who attended elite private high schools and near zero for students who did not.Admitted students from elite high schools are more likely to work in top management roles with other elite high school students who are college peers—but are no more likely to work with elite high school students from the same degree program in other cohorts, or other degree programs in the same cohort. He interprets this difference-in- differences analysis using a simple model of referral-based hiring.The model suggests that peer ties can account for the bulk of leadership gains associated with elite college admission. 

September 25, 2014 • Andersen Hall 3245 • IPR/Joint Economics


Patrick Kline

Assistant Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley

“Bargaining, Sorting, and the Gender Wage Gap: Quantifying the Impact of Firms on the Relative Pay of Women”

Abstract: There is growing evidence that firm-specific pay premiums are an important source of wage inequality.These premiums will contribute to the gender wage gap if women are less likely to work at high-paying firms or if women negotiate worse wage bargains with their employers than men. Using longitudinal data on the hourly wages of Portuguese workers matched with balance sheet information for firms, the authors show that the wages of both men and women contain firm-specific premiums that are strongly correlated with employer productivity.They then show how the impact of these firm-specific pay differentials on the gender wage gap can be decomposed into a combination of bargaining and sorting effects. Consistent with the bargaining literature, they find that women receive only 90% of the firm-specific pay premiums earned by men. Notably, they obtain very similar estimates of the relative bargaining power ratio from their analysis of between-firm wage premiums and from analyzing changes in firm-specific premiums over time.They also find that women are less likely to work at firms that pay higher premiums to either gender, with sorting effects being most important for lower-skilled workers.Taken together, the bargaining and sorting effects explain about one-fifth of the cross-sectional gender wage gap in Portugal.Their results suggest that regulatory policies aimed at ensuring equal pay are likely to have their greatest benefit for high skilled women, whereas policies ensuring that women are fairly represented in the hiring pool of firms will have effects throughout the skill distribution. 

November 6, 2014 • Andersen Hall 3245 • IPR/Joint Economics


Craig Garthwaite

Assistant Professor of Management and Strategy, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

“The Market Impacts of Pharmaceutical Product Patents in Developing Countries: Evidence from India”

Abstract: In 2005, as the result of a World Trade Organization mandate, India began to implement product patents for pharmaceuticals that were compliant with the 1995 Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).The researchers combine pharmaceutical product sales data for India with a newly gathered dataset of molecule-linked patents issued by the Indian patent office. Exploiting variation in the timing of patent decisions, they estimate that a molecule receiving a patent experienced an average price increase of just 3 to 6 percent, with larger increases for more recently developed molecules and for those produced by just one firm when the patent system began. Their results also show little impact on quantities sold or on the number of pharmaceutical firms operating in the market. 

November 13, 2014 • Andersen Hall 3245 • IPR/Joint Economics


Owen Zidar

Assistant Professor of Economics, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago

“Who Benefits from State Corporate Tax Cuts? A Local Labor Market Approach with Heterogeneous Firms?”

Abstract: This paper estimates the incidence of state corporate taxes on the welfare of workers, landowners, and firm owners using variation in state corporate tax rates and apportionment rules.The researchers develop a spatial equilibrium model with imperfectly mobile firms and workers. Firm owners may earn profits and be inframarginal in their location choices due to differences in location- specific productivities.The researchers use the reduced-form effects of tax changes to identify and estimate the incidence on workers, landowners, and firm owners as well as the structural parameters governing these impacts. In contrast to standard open economy models, firm owners bear roughly 40 percent of the incidence, while workers and landowners bear 30–35 percent and 25–30 percent, respectively. 

December 4, 2014 • Andersen Hall 3245 • IPR/Joint Economics


Ian Walker

Professor of Economics, Lancaster University (U.K.)

“Lotto, Addiction, and Problem Gambling”

Abstract: This work presents and estimates a simple model of lotto—the most prevalent form of gambling in many countries. Lotto has two important features for the researchers’ purposes. First, the prize distribution changes from draw to draw because of rollovers—when there is no jackpot winner in one draw, the jackpot pool gets added to the jackpot pool in the subsequent draw. The researchers exploit this variation to estimate a model of rational addiction. Second, the rollover probability depends on the winning numbers because players do not choose their numbers randomly.They estimate the extent to which this is true and use this to resolve the endogeneity of price in the model.They provide evidence that behavior is consistent with a rational addiction model.The researchers also consider problem gambling. This is usually defined with reference to a bank of behavioral questions, and the researchers’ data suggests that problem gambling is relatively uncommon.They exploit data that also contain questions relating to life satisfaction, allowing them to estimate the impact of problem gambling on life satisfaction.Their estimates suggest that problem gambling is a very important problem to those who are afflicted. 

December 11, 2014 • Andersen Hall 3245 • IPR/Joint Economics