Colloquia - Spring 2015


IPR Colloquia

Leslie McCall

Professor of Sociology and IPR Fellow

"How Americans Think Politically About Economic Inequality"

Abstract:  Drawing on survey evidence and media coverage dating back to the 1980s, McCall’s research shows that Americans have long been more critical of economic inequality than is commonly recognized, and that critical views are heightened when inequality is perceived as a barrier to economic opportunity. As a result, concerns about inequality are more likely to be expressed in support of opportunity enhancing policies in education and the labor market than in support of traditional redistributive policies. This “opportunity model” of beliefs about inequality is contrasted to the “welfare state model” that both research and political discourse assumes. McCall will also briefly discuss new collaborative projects that seek to test this model using survey experiments and existing cross-national surveys.

April 6, 2015 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Louis-André Vallet

Professor of Sociology, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Sciences Po

"The Democratization of Education: Its Apparent Paradox, a Plausible Explanation, and Its Empirical Proof"

Abstract:  Examining data on more than half a million people from seven nationally representative surveys, Vallet seeks evidence of the democratization of education, finding that the association between a person’s social class and education has somewhat declined for those born between 1920–22 and 1974–76. Paradoxically, however, if one examines those within the same cohorts who passed the French baccalauréat, the final-year secondary examination that determines postsecondary access—or its equivalent, the association between one’s social origin and obtaining a tertiary (postsecondary) degree has steadily increased. While leading French and U.S. sociologists predicted this steady increase, they did so in very different terms, as well as cautiously providing the same plausible explanation. In the second part of his presentation, Vallet uses two longitudinal French datasets to empirically prove both were right. He accomplishes this by comparing the academic achievement of students from different social classes, over successive transitions in the French educational system, four decades apart—in 1962–72 and 1995–2006.

April 13, 2015 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Rachel Beatty Riedl

Assistant Professor of Political Science and IPR Associate

"Religion’s Limits on Redistribution: Evidence from an Experiment in Nairobi, Kenya"

Abstract:  Since Karl Marx and Max Weber, social scientists have attempted to understand the impact or lack thereof of religion on attitudes about wealth accumulation, redistribution, and inequality. However, the effect of religious ideas on these domains is difficult to identify, at the very least because citizens may select into religious associations whose messages they find appealing. Riedl and her colleagues address this issue through a laboratory experiment in Nairobi, Kenya. Drawing on the content of real-world sermons, the researchers find evidence that exposure to Christian cues can reduce egalitarianism in complex distribution decisions, compared with exposure to secular messages. Riedl discusses implications of these findings for policy preferences in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as for the study of religion and politics more generally.

April 20, 2015 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Matthew Notowidigdo

Associate Professor of Economics and IPR Fellow

"The Effect of Wealth on Individual and Household Labor Supply: Evidence from Swedish Lotteries"

Abstract:  Notowidigdo and his colleagues study the effect of wealth on individual and household labor supply using administrative data for approximately 2 million lottery players in Sweden. The researchers find that winning a lottery prize modestly reduces income, with roughly 10 percent of the prize spent reducing labor earnings over the first 10 years. Income reductions are fairly similar by age and gender, and they find no evidence of nonlinear responses. They show that a calibrated dynamic labor supply model can account for their results over the life cycle, and they use the model to estimate key labor supply elasticities that can be used for policy analysis. Lastly, they find much larger earnings responses for winners than for their spouses, regardless of the gender of the winner; this is inconsistent with unitary household labor supply models that pool exogenous unearned income.

May 4, 2015 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Craig Garfield

Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Medical Social Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine; Director of Research, Division of Hospital-Based Medicine, Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; and IPR Associate

"Young Men’s Health and the Transition to Fatherhood: Looking Beyond Father’s Day"

Abstract:  The role of fathers in families has been the focus of increased attention from researchers, policymakers, and clinicians interested in improving outcomes for children and families. Yet how fathers are involved in the health and healthcare of their children is an area in need of attention. The purpose of this presentation is to expand our understanding of the interrelated ways fathers are involved in the health and healthcare of children and families, and to examine the bi-directional ways in which fathers influence children and children influence fathers. Specifically, Garfield will focus on a series of qualitative and quantitative studies he and his colleagues conducted examining young men’s mental and physical health during the transition to fatherhood. Attendees will learn how interrelated fathers’ involvement is to children’s health, maternal mental health, and paternal mental and physical health. Clinical and policy implications will be discussed.

June 1, 2015 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


IPR Seminar on Performance Measurement

Tomas Philipson

Daniel Levin Professor of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago

"Non-Adherence in Healthcare: A Positive and Normative Analysis"

Abstract:   Non-adherence in healthcare results when a patient does not initiate or continue provider-recommended care. It has been estimated to cost up to 2.3 percent of GDP. Though providers might be more informed about treatments’ population-wide effects, the researchers argue that patients know more about their individual value. They interpret a patient’s decision to adhere to a treatment regime as an optimal stopping problem, whereby patients learn a treatment’s value by experiencing it. The researchers’ positive analysis derives an “adherence survival function,” depicting the share of patients still on treatment as a function of time, and predicts how various observable factors alter it. Their normative analysis derives the efficiency effects of non-adherence and the conditions under which adherence is too high or low. They consider the analysis’ efficiency implications for common adherence interventions. Personalized medicine, they argue, speeds up the leaning process and raises efficiency through cutting over-adherence. Taking the case of cholesterol-reducing drugs, they calibrate the degree of over- and under-adherence. Their estimates suggest the ex-post efficiency loss from over-adherence is over 80 percent larger than from under-adherence, though less than half of patients fully adhere.

April 15, 2015 • IPR Conference Room, 617 Library Place • IPR/SPM


Michael Frakes

Associate Professor of Law and IPR Fellow

"Does Medical Malpractice Law Improve Healthcare?"

Abstract:   Despite the fundamental role of deterrence in justifying a system of medical malpractice law, surprisingly little evidence has been put forth to date bearing on the relationship between medical liability forces on the one hand and medical errors and healthcare quality on the other. The researchers estimate this relationship using clinically validated measures of healthcare treatment quality constructed with data from 1979–2005 National Hospital Discharge Surveys and 1987–2008 records from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Drawing upon traditional, remedy-centric tort reforms—e.g., damage caps—they estimate that the current liability system plays, at most, a modest role in inducing higher levels of healthcare quality. They contend that this limited independent role for medical liability might be a reflection on the structural nature of the present system of liability rules, which largely hold physicians to standards determined according to industry customs. They find evidence suggesting, however, that physician practices might respond more significantly upon a substantive alteration of this system altogether—i.e., upon a change in the clinical standards to which physicians are held in the first instance. The literature to date has largely failed to appreciate the substantive nature of liability rules and thus, might be drawing limited inferences based solely on experiences to date with damage caps and related reforms.

May 27, 2015 • IPR Conference Room, 617 Library Place • IPR/SPM


Q-Center Colloquia

Hua-Hua Chang

Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

"Psychometrics Behind Adaptive Testing and Adaptive Learning"

Abstract:  This presentation provides a survey of 20 years’ progress in Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT). Although CAT research was originally inspired by problems in high-stakes testing, its findings have been beneficial to other domains, such as quality of life measurements, patient-reported outcomes, K–12 accountability assessments, survey research, and media and information literacy measures. Chang starts with a historical review of the establishment of a large sample foundation for CAT, then addresses a number of issues that emerged from large-scale implementation, showing how theoretical works can be helpful to solve the problems. Finally, Chang shows that CAT can be very helpful to support individualized learning on a mass scale.

April 7, 2015 • IPR Conference Room, 617 Library Place • IPR/Q-Center


David Drukker

Director of Econometrics, Stata

"Estimating Average Treatment Effects Using Stata"

Abstract:  Learn how and when to use Stata’s treatment-effects estimators to analyze treatment effects in observational data. In this lecture, Drukker will cover the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of treatment effects as well as many examples using Stata. After presenting the potential-outcome framework and discussing the estimated parameters, the course discusses six estimators: regression-adjustment estimator, inverse-probability-weighted (IPW) estimator, augmented IPW estimator, IPW regression-adjustment estimator, nearest-neighbor matching estimator, and propensity-score matching estimator. The course also discusses the double-robustness property of the augmented IPW and IPW regression-adjustment estimators; using different functional forms for outcome model and treatment model; multivalued treatments; and some estimators when the treatment is endogenous. All topics are discussed using a combination of math and Stata examples.

April 23, 2015 • Room 303, Annenberg Hall, 2120 Campus Drive • IPR/Q-Center


David Drukker

Director of Econometrics, Stata

"Stata Short Course"

Abstract:  Writing a Stata command for methods that you use or develop can broaden dissemination of your research. Stata's Director of Econometrics David Drukker will lead this one-day course that shows how to write a Stata estimation command. No Stata or Mata programming experience is required, but it does help. After providing an introduction to basic Stata do-file programming, the course covers basic and advanced ado-file programming. Next, it provides an introduction to Mata, the byte-compiled matrix language that is part of Stata. Then the course shows how to implement linear and nonlinear statistical methods in Stata/Mata programs. Finally, the course discusses using Monte Carlo simulations to test the implementation.

April 24, 2015 • TBD • IPR/Q-Center


HDSP Colloquium Series

Agns van Zanten

Professor of Sociology, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Sciences Po

"Inequalities in Access to Higher Education in France: The Role of Institutional and Market Devices"

Biography:  Agnès van Zanten is a sociologist and senior research professor working for the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique at Sciences Po, Paris. She is the co- director of the research group on Educational policies at the Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire d’Evaluation des Politiques Publiques (LIEPP) of Sciences Po and the director of the series “Education et Société” at Presses Universitaires de France. Her main research areas are class and education, elite education, transition to higher education, school choice, competition and mix and educational policies. She is also interested in qualitative research methods and international comparisons. She has recently published (with G. Felouzis and C. Maroy), Les marchés scolaires (PUF, 2013) and edited (with S. Ball and B. Darchy-Koechlin) The World Yearbook of Education 2015. Elites, privilege and excellence: the national and global redefinition of educational advantage (Routledge, 2015). She is also directing two main research projects on ‘Transition to higher education. The role of institutions, markets and networks’ and (with C. Maroy) ‘Accountability and governance of education in France and Quebec’. 

April 14, 2015 • Room 303, Annenberg Hall, 2120 Campus Drive • IPR/HDSP


Social Inequality and Difference Lecture

Bruce Western

Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice Policy, Professor of Sociology, and Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, Harvard University

"Mass Incarceration and the Road to Reform"

Biography:  Bruce Western is Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice Policy, professor of sociology, and director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at Harvard University. His research broadly studies the relationship between political institutions and social and economic inequality. He has longstanding interests in criminal justice policy, incarceration, and the effects of incarceration on poor communities. Western serves as the Vice Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Causes and Consequences of High Incarceration Rates in the United States, and he is the principal investigator on the Harvard Executive Session on Community Corrections, sponsored by the National Institute of Justice. He received his PhD in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Before moving to Harvard in 2007, he taught at Princeton University. Among his awards and honors, Western has been a Jean Monnet Fellow and a Guggenheim Fellow, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His book, Punishment and Inequality in America (2006, Russell Sage Foundation Publications), won the Albert J. Reiss Award from the American Sociological Association.

May 7, 2015 • Rebecca Crown Center, Hardin Hall, 633 Clark • IPR


Joint Economics/IPR Seminar Series

David Card

Class of 1950 Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley

"Can Tracking Raise the Test Scores of High-Ability Minority Students?"

Abstract:  The researchers evaluate a tracking program in a large urban district where schools with at least one gifted fourth grader create a separate “gifted/high achiever” (GHA) classroom. Most seats are filled by non-gifted “high achievers,” ranked by standardized test scores. The researchers study the program’s effects on these high achievers using (1) a rank-based regression discontinuity design, and (2) a between-school/cohort analysis. They find significant effects that are concentrated among black and Hispanic participants. Minorities gain 0.5–0.6 standard deviation units in fourth-grade reading and math scores, and gains persist through seventh grade. The researchers find no evidence of negative or positive spillovers on non-participants.

April 16, 2015 • 3245 Andersen Hall, Evanston Campus • IPR/Economics


Adriana Lleras-Muney

Professor of Economics, University of California, Los Angeles

"Party On: The Returns to Social Skills and Networks in the Labor Market"

Abstract:  The researchers document that there are large returns in the labor market to social traits, including number of friends and communication skills. They model social interactions early in life as both consumption and investment related. Importantly, the formation of these skills requires coordination among individuals, making school and college a potentially optimal setting to invest in social skills. Using panel data from both the United States and the United Kingdom, they show that social skills evolve over the lifetime, that individuals invest in these skills, and that these investments compete with cognitive investments. 

May 7, 2015 • 3245 Andersen Hall, Evanston Campus • IPR/Economics


Stéphane Bonhomme

Professor of Economics, University of Chicago

"A Distributional Framework for Matched Employer-Employee Data"

Abstract:  The researchers develop a discrete heterogeneity framework for matched employer-employee data. The framework allows for unrestricted interactions between worker and firm unobserved characteristics in the wage function, as well as unrestricted sorting based on these unobservables. Pooling cross-sectional observations together with information from the joint distribution of wages of job movers, they establish a series of nonparametric identification results in short panels. They evaluate their method on data simulated from a theoretical model under both positive and negative sorting. They then apply their method to Swedish matched employer-employee panel data and report estimated wage functions and sorting patterns.

May 19, 2015 • 3245 Andersen Hall, Evanston Campus • IPR/Economics


Erica Field

Associate Professor of Economics, Duke University

"Loss in the Time of Cholera: Long-Run Impact of a Disease Epidemic on the Urban Landscape"

Abstract:  The researchers examine the impact on housing prices of a cholera epidemic in 19th-century London. Ten years after the month-long epidemic, housing prices are significantly lower just inside the catchment area of the water pump that transmitted the disease, despite being the same before the epidemic. Moreover, differences in housing prices persist and grow in magnitude over the following century. To illustrate a mechanism through which idiosyncratic shocks to individuals that have no direct effect on infrastructure can have a permanent effect on housing prices, they build a model of a rental market with frictions, with poor tenants exerting a negative externality on their neighbors, in which a locally concentrated negative income shock can permanently change the tenant composition of the affected areas.

May 21, 2015 • 3245 Andersen Hall, Evanston Campus • IPR/Economics


Magne Mogstad

Assistant Professor in Economics and the College, University of Chicago

"Field of Study, Earnings, and Self-Selection"

Abstract:  The researchers evaluate a tracking program in a large urban district where schools with at least one gifted fourth grader create a separate “gifted/high achiever” (GHA) classroom. Most seats are filled by non-gifted “high achievers,” ranked by standardized test scores. The researchers study the program’s effects on these high achievers using (1) a rank-based regression discontinuity design, and (2) a between-school/cohort analysis. They find significant effects that are concentrated among black and Hispanic participants. Minorities gain 0.5–0.6 standard deviation units in fourth-grade reading and math scores, and gains persist through seventh grade. The researchers find no evidence of negative or positive spillovers on non-participants.

June 11, 2015 • 3245 Andersen Hall, Evanston Campus • IPR/Economics