Colloquia - Fall 2012

IPR Colloquia

Jennifer Richeson

Professor of Psychology and IPR Fellow

“On the Precipice of a ‘Majority-Minority’ America: How the Shifting Racial Landscape of the United States Affects White Americans’ Racial Attitudes and
Political Ideologies”

Abstract: The racial and ethnic diversity of the United States is rapidly increasing, such that racial and ethnic minorities are expected to comprise more than 50 percent of the U.S. population by 2042, effectively creating a so-called “majority-minority” nation. In this research, Richeson and her co-author examine how white Americans react to information about the impending population changes. In a series of experiments, they find consistent evidence that exposure to information about shifting U.S. racial demographics (compared with exposure to various control primes) evokes the expression of more implicit and explicit racial bias and greater endorsement of political conservatism. These are mediated by perceptions that increases in racial minorities’ societal status will reduce white Americans’ influence in society. These effects suggest that rather than ushering in a more tolerant future, the increasing national diversity could actually yield more intergroup hostility and have untold influence on white Americans’ political participation both now and in the decades to come.

October 15, 2012 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR

Quincy Thomas Stewart

Associate Professor of Sociology and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

“Big Bad Racists, Subtle Prejudice, and Minority Victims: An Agent-Based Model of the Dynamics of Racial Inequality”

Abstract: How many racists does it take to maintain racial inequality? Historical evidence from the Jim Crow era suggests that a large number of racist advocates operating in various social arenas is needed. However, recent research cites a significant decline in the number of people who hold racist beliefs that has not been paralleled by declines in racial inequality. This refutes the hypothesized connection between racist attitudes and racial inequality. Responses to this change assert that racial inequality does not require an abundance of racists, but only a system of biased social institutions—or patterns of interaction—which can maintain racial inequality with few, or even no, racists. Using an agent-based model of a Nash bargaining game, Stewart examines these questions regarding how many racists—or biased institutional actors—it takes to create and maintain racial inequality. The results reveal that an enormous amount of discrimination is needed to inspire and establish racial inequality. However, when nondiscriminating agents (i.e., nonracist individuals) are allowed to use the race of competitors in decision making via social learning, the need for discriminatory agents to maintain inequality is reduced to nil.

October 22, 2012 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR

Greg Miller

Professor of Psychology and IPR Fellow

“The Biological Residue of Childhood Adversity”

Children who are exposed to social and economic adversity in the early years of life show increased susceptibility to the chronic diseases of aging when they reach their 50s and 60s. These findings raise a difficult mechanistic question: How does early adversity “get under the skin” in a manner that is sufficiently persistent to affect vulnerability to diseases that arise many decades later? Miller will discuss findings from his ongoing research, which suggest that early adversity is programmed into cells of the immune system at the level of the genome, resulting in a pro-inflammatory phenotype that likely contributes to the chronic diseases of aging. He will also discuss newer findings which identify the family context as a powerful moderator of these effects, such that high levels of maternal warmth in early life can offset the pro-inflammatory residue of childhood adversity.

October 29, 2012 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR

David Figlio

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

“The Effects of Poor Neonatal Health on Cognitive Development”

Several recent studies show that poor neonatal health (proxied by low birth weight) has persistent effects into adulthood, reducing both an individual’s level of educational attainment as well as adult earnings, but little is known about its effects before the age of 18. This paper uses a large, new data set of twins from Florida to study this question. Figlio and his co-authors find that the effects of poor neonatal health on student outcomes are remarkably invariant. The estimates are virtually identical from third grade through tenth grade. They are the same regardless of whether a student attended a “better” school or a “worse” school, across racial and ethnic groups, and across maternal education levels. The effects, however, grow in magnitude between the start of kindergarten and the end of third grade. These results suggest an important potential role for early childhood and early elementary investments in remediating this persistent condition.

November 5, 2012 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR

Daniel Galvin

Assistant Professor of Political Science and IPR Fellow

Monica Prasad

Associate Professor of Sociology and IPR Fellow; Daniel Galvin, Assistant Professor of Political Science and IPR Fellow

Benjamin Page

Gordon S. Fulcher Professor of Decision Making and IPR Associate

“Reflections on the 2012 Election”

November 12, 2012 • Annenberg 303, 2120 Campus Drive • IPR

Burton Weisbrod

John Evans Professor of Economics and IPR Fellow

“The Perils of Pay for Performance--or Just 'A Few Bad Apples?'”

November 26, 2012 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR

Randall Reback

Associate Professor of Economics, Barnard College, and IPR Visiting Scholar

“Health and Mental Health in Schools”

December 3, 2012 • IPR Conference Room, 617 Library Place • IPR

Q-Center Colloquia

Elizabeth Stuart

Associate Professor of Mental Health and Biostatistics, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

“Assessing the Generalizability of Randomized Trials in Public Health and Education Research”

November 20, 2012 • IPR Conference Room, 617 Library Place • Q-Center

IPR Seminar on Performance Measurement

Jonathan Meer

Assistant Professor of Economics, Texas A&M University

“Effects of the Price of Giving: Evidence from an Online Crowd-funding Platform”

November 27, 2012 • IPR Conference Room, 617 Library Place • IPR/SPM

Joint IPR/Economics Education & Labor Seminars

Emily Oster

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

“Limited Life Expectancy, Human Capital, and Health Investments”

Abstract: Human capital theory predicts that life expectancy will impact human capital attainment. Oster and her colleagues estimate this relationship using variation in life expectancy driven by Huntington’s disease (HD), an inherited neurological disorder. They compare investments for individuals who have ex-ante identical risks of HD but differ in disease realization. Individuals with the HD mutation complete less education and job training. The elasticity of demand for college attendance with respect to life expectancy is around 1.0. They relate this to cross-country and over-time differences in education. The researchers use smoking and cancer screening data to test the corollary that health capital responds to life expectancy.

October 11, 2012 • 3245 Anderson Hall • IPR/Joint Economics

Ebonya Washington

Henry Kohn Associate Professor of Economics, Yale University

“Valuing the Vote: The Redistribution of Voting Rights and State Funds Following the Voting Rights Act of 1965”

Abstract: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) has been called one of the most effective pieces of civil rights legislation in United States’ history, having generated dramatic increases in black voter registration and black voter turnout across the South. Washington and her colleague show that the elimination of literacy tests at voter registration increased black voting rights in some Southern states and was accompanied by a shift in state aid toward localities with higher proportions of black residents, who held newfound power to affect the re-election of state officials.The researchers also found relatively large increases in voter turnout in areas with higher black population shares in treated states over this time period. Their estimates imply an elasticity of state transfers to counties with respect to turnout in presidential elections of roughly 1.

October 18, 2012 • 3245 Anderson Hall • IPR/Joint Economics

Rema Hanna

Associate Professor of Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

“The Effect of Pollution on Labor Supply: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Mexico City”

Moderate effects of pollution on health might exert an important influence on labor market decisions. Hanna and her co-author exploit exogenous variation in pollution due to the closure of a large refinery in Mexico City to understand how pollution can have an impact on labor supply. The closure led to an 8 percent decline in pollution in the surrounding neighborhoods. They find that a 1 percent increase in sulfur dioxide results in a 0.61 percent decrease in the number of hours worked. The effects do not appear to be driven by labor demand shocks nor differential migration as a result of the closure in the areas located near the refinery.

October 25, 2012 • 3245 Anderson Hall • IPR/Joint Economics

Kehinde Ajayi

Assistant Professor of Economics, Boston University

“School Choice and Educational Mobility: Lessons from Secondary School
Applications in Ghana”

In this study, Kehinde Ajayi examines the barriers to educational mobility in a merit-based, school-choice setting. She focuses on Ghana’s education system, which uses standardized tests and a nation-wide application process to allocate 150,000 elementary school students to 650 secondary schools. Students from lower-performing elementary schools in Ghana apply to less-selective secondary schools than their peers from higher-performing elementary schools. Using detailed data from three cohorts of applicants, she examines three potential explanations: poor decision making, incorrect beliefs, and heterogeneous preferences. Evidence in support of the first two hypotheses suggests that uncertainty in school-choice settings limits educational mobility.

November 8, 2012 • 3245 Anderson Hall • IPR/Joint Economics

Kjell Salvanes

Professor of Economics, NHH (The Norwegian School of Economics), Norway

November 29, 2012 • 3245 Anderson Hall • IPR/Joint Economics

Joint IPR/Political Science

The Unheavenly Chorus

Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy

Politically active individuals and organizations invest enormous amounts of time, energy, and money to influence everything from election outcomes to congressional subcommittee hearings to local school politics, while other groups and individual citizens seem woefully underrepresented. Join political scientists Kay Lehman Schlozman and Sidney Verba as they discuss their comprehensive and systematic examination of political voice in America contained in The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2012) written with Henry Brady. Building on in-depth surveys and their expansive database of interest organizations—35,000 organizations over 25 years—they also will show how deeply ingrained and persistent class-based political inequality are marring American democracy. Schlozman is J. Joseph Moakley Endowed Professor of Political Science at Boston College, and Verba is Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor Emeritus and Research Professor of Government at Harvard University.

October 28, 2012 • 107 Harris Hall, 1881 Sheridan Road • IPR/Joint Economics