Colloquia - Fall 2013


IPR Colloquia

David Figlio

Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy and of Economics, and IPR Director and Fellow

Morton Schapiro

Northwestern University Professor, President, and IPR Fellow

Kevin Soter

Consultant, Greatest Good (WCAS ‘12)

“Are Tenure-Track Professors Better Teachers?”

Abstract: This study makes use of detailed student-level data from eight cohorts of first-year students at Northwestern University to investigate the relative effects of tenure-track/tenured versus largely long-term, full-time non-tenure line faculty on student learning. The researchers focus on classes taken during a student’s first term at Northwestern, and they employ a unique identification strategy in which they control for both student-level fixed effects and next-class-taken fixed effects to measure the degree to which non-tenure line faculty contribute more or less to lasting student learning than do other faculty. They find consistent evidence that students learn relatively more from non-tenure line professors in their introductory courses. These differences are present across a wide variety of subject areas.

October 7, 2013 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Thomas McDade

Professor of Anthropology, Director of IPR’s Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health, and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

“Birth Weight, Breast-Feeding, and Chronic Inflammation: Early Origins of Health Disparities Among Young Adults in the United States”

Abstract: Environments in infancy have lasting effects on human physiological systems that influence risk for a wide range of diseases in adulthood. Chronic inflammation is involved in many of these diseases, and it is a potentially important mechanism linking early environments and adult health. This analysis uses data from a large, nationally representative sample of young adults in the United States to evaluate birth weight and breast-feeding duration in infancy as predictors of C-reactive protein (CRP) in adulthood. Lower birth weight and shorter duration of breast-feeding both predict higher CRP in adulthood, suggesting that efforts to promote breast-feeding and improve birth outcomes might lower risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in adulthood. A focus on environments early in development might help address social disparities in population health outcomes in adulthood, which run parallel to, and perhaps derive in part from, social disparities in birth weight and breast-feeding behavior.

October 14, 2013 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Monica Prasad

Professor of Sociology and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

“Foreign Aid and Social Development”

Abstract: Recently, several highly publicized books have argued that foreign aid does not improve outcomes in recipient countries. Prasad and her colleagues critique these studies for focusing on economic growth as the measure of development, even though donors have not focused on economic growth as their main aim since the 1970s; for confusing strategic aid and humanitarian aid; and for overreliance on the “generalized method of moments,” particularly the Arellano-Bond technique, even where it is technically inappropriate. Using instrumental variable regression, they assess the effectiveness of aid in the post-Cold War period on measures of social development—specifically, declines in infant and child mortality and increases in life expectancy—in recipient countries, and they conclude that proclamations of the failure of aid are premature.

November 4, 2013 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Eli Finkel

Professor of Psychology and Management & Organizations, and IPR Associate, Northwestern University

“The Suffocation of Marriage”

Abstract: This presentation distills insights from historical, sociological, and psychological analyses of marriage to develop the “suffocation model of marriage in America.” According to this model, contemporary Americans ask their marriage to help them fulfill their physiological and safety needs much less than in the past, but they ask it to help them fulfill their esteem and self-actualization needs much more than in the past. These changes require increased investments of time and psychological resources to foster the relational bond, but most Americans are investing less in their marriage, not more. As a result, mean levels of marital quality and personal well-being are declining. The suffocation model suggests several promising options for counteracting these trends. Discussion explores the implications of the suffocation model for understanding dating and courtship, sociodemographic variation, and marriage beyond America’s borders.

November 11, 2013 • 303 Annenberg Hall, 2120 Campus Drive • IPR


Leemore Dafny

Professor of Management and Strategy, Herman Smith Research Professor in Hospital and Health Services, and IPR Associate, Northwestern University

“Promoting Competition in Healthcare Markets: Takeaways from a Year at the Federal Trade Commission”

Abstract: The Affordable Care Act has sparked a wave of consolidation in healthcare markets. Drawing on her recent experience as Deputy Director for Healthcare and Antitrust at the Federal Trade Commission, Dafny will discuss what federal antitrust authorities are doing, and are not doing, to stop it. The talk will summarize antitrust basics and some recent case developments, and might include a war story or two.

November 18, 2013 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Therese McGuire

Professor of Management and Strategy, ConAgra Foods Research Professor in Strategic Management,and IPR Associate, Northwestern University

“Fifty Shades of Fiscal Federalism”

Abstract: In the Great Recession, many—but importantly not all—states experienced fiscal upheaval. In part, the differences in state fiscal outcomes are attributable to differences in the performance of state economies. The differences are partly due to decisions made or not made by state political agents. McGuire and her colleagues investigate whether differences in state fiscal structures—reliance on the personal income tax or the split in fiscal responsibility between the state government and its local governments, for example—help explain differences in fiscal outcomes. Employing a data set with annual observations on the 50 states from 1963 to 2009, they document differences in state fiscal outcomes and demonstrate the wide variety of state fiscal structures. They find evidence that aspects of state fiscal structures influence state fiscal outcomes.

November 25, 2013 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Fay Lomax Cook

Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, and IPR Fellow

"The Great Divide: Elite and Mass Opinion About Social Security"

Abstract: Often called “the third rail of American politics,” Social Security was once seen as untouchable. Cook and IPR graduate research assistant Rachel Moskowitz show that this political wisdom has changed, however, and use the theoretical framework of competitive counterframing to describe the breakdown in consensus among elites during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. They then ask whether this breakdown in consensus at the elite level has weakened the long-standing support of the public. Overall, they show that it has not, but the widening gaps between the views of affluent Americans and low-income Americans bear careful watching.

December 2, 2013 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


IPR Seminar on Performance Measurement

Jonathan Skinner

James O. Freedman Presidential Professor of Economics, Dartmouth College

“Technology Growth and Expenditure Growth in Healthcare”

Abstract: In the United States, healthcare technology has contributed to rising survival rates, but healthcare spending relative to GDP has also grown more rapidly than in any other country. Skinner and his co-author develop a model of patient demand and supplier behavior to explain these parallel trends in technology growth and cost growth. They show that healthcare productivity depends on the heterogeneity of treatment effects across patients, the shape of the production function of health, and the cost structure of procedures such as MRIs that have high fixed costs and low marginal costs. This model implies a typology of medical technology productivity with three categories: (I) highly cost-effective “home run” innovations with little chance of overuse, such as anti-retroviral therapy for HIV, (II) treatments highly effective for some but not for all, and (III) “gray area” treatments with uncertain clinical value, such as ICU days for chronically ill patients. Not surprisingly, countries adopting category I and effective category II treatments gain the greatest health improvements, while countries adopting ineffective category II and category III treatments experience the most rapid cost growth. Ultimately, economic and political resistance in the United States to rising tax rates will likely slow cost growth, with uncertain effects on technology growth.

October 8, 2013 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR/SPM


Nicola Persico

Professor of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

“Economic Analysis of Black-White Disparities in NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk Program”

Abstract: Persico, with Decio Coviello of HEC Montréal, analyzed data on New York Police Department’s “stop-and-frisk” program in an effort to identify racial bias on the part of the police officers making the stops. They find that on average and across all precincts the officers are not biased against African Americans relative to whites, because the latter are being stopped despite being a “less productive” stop for a police officer.

October 16, 2013 • IPR Conference Room, 617 Library Place IPR/SPM


Joint IPR/Economics Education & Labor Seminars

Julie Berry Cullen

Professor of Economics, University of California, San Diego

“The Politics of Tax Evasion”

Abstract: Despite the widespread consequences of tax evasion, economists’ ability to predict this behavior is limited. Cullen and her colleagues explore whether the decision to evade personal income taxes depends on the payee’s perceived net benefits from government spending. They consider fiscal aspects of net benefits, via the flow of funds to localities, and psychic aspects, via the degree of political alignment with elected officials. Proxies for evasion are derived from IRS individual tax return data. County-level fixed effects regressions reveal that tax evasion is curbed by more positive views of government.

September 26, 2013 • 3245 Anderson Hall • IPR/Joint Economics


Dean Yang

Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

“Directed Giving: Evidence from an Inter-Household Transfer Experiment”

Abstract: In a lab-in-the-field experiment with large stakes, Yang and colleagues investigate the determinants of giving. Study participants in urban Mozambique play dictator games where their counterpart is the closest person to them outside their household. Dictators share more with counterparts when they have the option of giving in-kind (in the form of goods), compared with giving that must be in cash. Qualitative post-experiment responses suggest that this effect is driven by a desire to control how recipients use gifted resources. Standard economic determinants such as the rate of return to giving and the size of the endowment also affect giving, but the effects of even large changes in these determinants are significantly smaller than the effect of the in-kind option. The results support theories of giving where the utility of givers depends on the composition—not just the level—of gift-recipient expenditures, and givers thus seek control over the transferred resources.

October 3, 2013 • 3245 Anderson Hall • IPR/Joint Economics


Enrico Moretti

Michael Peevey and Donald Vial Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley

“Local Economic Development, Agglomeration Economies, and the Big Push: 100 Years of Evidence from the Tennessee Valley Authority”

Abstract: Moretti and Patrick Kline study the long run effects of one of the most ambitious regional development programs in U.S. history: the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Using as controls authorities that were proposed but never approved by Congress, they find that the TVA led to large gains in agricultural employment that were eventually reversed when the program’s subsidies ended. Gains in manufacturing employment, by contrast, continued to intensify well after federal transfers had lapsed—a pattern consistent with the presence of agglomeration economies in manufacturing. Because manufacturing paid higher wages than agriculture, this shift raised aggregate income in the TVA region for an extended period of time. Economists have long cautioned that the local gains created by place-based policies might be offset by losses elsewhere. They develop a structured approach to assessing the TVA’s aggregate consequences that is applicable to other place-based policies. In their model, the TVA affects the national economy both directly through infrastructure improvements and indirectly through agglomeration economies. The model’s estimates suggest that the TVA's direct investments yielded a significant increase in national manufacturing productivity, with benefits exceeding the program's costs. However, the program's indirect effects appear to have been limited: Agglomeration gains in the TVA region were offset by losses in the rest of the country. Spillovers in manufacturing appear to be the rare example of a localized market failure that cancels out in the aggregate.

November 14, 2013 • 3245 Anderson Hall • IPR/Joint Economics


Marianne Bertrand

Chris P. Dialynas Professor of Economics, University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“Breaking the Glass Ceiling: The Effect of Board Quotas on Female Labor Market Outcomes in Norway”

Bertrand is an applied microeconomist whose research covers the fields of labor economics, corporate finance, and development economics. Her research in these areas has been published widely, including numerous research articles in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Political Economy, American Economic Review, and Journal of Finance. Bertrand also serves as co-editor of the American Economic Review. Bertrand is a co-director of Chicago Booth’s Social Enterprise Initiative and a member of the Faculty Advisory Board for the University of Chicago’s Collegium for Culture and Society, as well as of the Board of Directors for the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. She has received several awards and honors, including the 2004 Elaine Bennett Research Prize, awarded by the American Economic Association, and the 2012 Society of Labor Economists’ Rosen Prize for Outstanding Contributions to Labor Economics. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Bertrand received her PhD from Harvard University and has been at the University of Chicago since 2000.

November 21, 2013 • 3245 Anderson Hall • IPR/Joint Economics


IPR Co-Sponsored Events

Human Development and Social Policy Brown Bag Seminar

Clancy Blair

Professor of applied psychology at New York University's School of Culture, Education and Human Development

"Psychobiology of Self Regulation: The Development of Executive Functions in Early Childhood"

A developmental psychologist, he studies self-regulation in young children. His primary interest concerns the development of cognitive abilities referred to as executive functions and the ways in which these aspects of cognition are important for school readiness and early school achievement. He is also interested in the development and evaluation of preschool and elementary school curricula designed to promote executive functions as a means of preventing school failure.

This colloquium is co-sponsored by the Human Development and Social Policy program at the School of Education and Social Policy and Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health at the Institute for Policy Research.

November 12, 2013 • 303 Annenberg Hall, 2120 Campus Dr. • IPR/HDSP


The Northwestern Distinguished Alumnus Lecture

Kenneth Dodge

 William McDougall Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and Founding Director of the Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University

"'You Talkin' to Me?' Response to Provocation, Development of Violent Behavior, and Preventive Intervention"

November 14, 2013 • 107 Swift Hall, 2029 Sheridan Road •IPR/Psychology