Colloquia - Spring 2016


IPR Colloquia

Lindsay Chase-Lansdale 
Francis Willard Professor of Human Development and Social Policy; Associate Provost for Faculty; and IPR Fellow

Teresa Eckrich Sommer
IPR Research Associate Professor

“A Mixed-Methods Experimental Study: Promoting Parents’ Social Capital to Increase Children’s Attendance in Head Start”

Abstract: Improving children’s attendance is a high priority for Head Start and other early childhood education programs serving low-income children. Chase-Lansdale, Sommer, and their colleagues conducted a randomized control trial in a major Northern city to evaluate the impact of a low-cost intervention designed to promote parents’ social capital as a potential influence on children’s attendance in Head Start centers. They found that the intervention had significant impacts on parents’ social networks and children’s attendance. Follow-up exploratory analyses of focus groups with parents and staff suggested that parents’ level of connection and trust, self-generated partnership strategies, and commitment to their children’s education might be factors by which parents’ social capital expands and children’s attendance improves. The study is part of the Northwestern University Two-Generation Research Initiative, which evaluates the impact of programs designed to expand life opportunity for low-income parents and children simultaneously.

April 4, 2016 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Bruce Meyer

McCormick Foundation Professor, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago

“Using Linked Survey and Administrative Data to Better Measure Income: Implications for Poverty, Program Effectiveness, and Holes in the Safety Net”

Abstract: Meyer and his co-author examine the consequences of underreporting of transfer programs for prototypical analyses of low-income populations using the Current Population Survey (CPS), the source of official poverty and inequality statistics. They link administrative data for food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), General Assistance, and subsidized housing from New York state to the CPS at the individual level. They find that program receipt in the CPS is missed for more than one-third of housing assistance recipients, 40 percent of food stamp recipients, and 60 percent of TANF and General Assistance recipients. Benefits dollars are also undercounted for reporting recipients, particularly for TANF, General Assistance, and housing assistance. They find that the survey data sharply understated the income of poor households, and underreporting in the survey data also greatly understates the effects of antipoverty programs and changes our current understanding of program targeting. Using the combined data rather than survey data alone, the poverty-reducing effect of all programs together is nearly doubled while the effect of housing assistance is tripled. They also re-examine the coverage of the safety net, specifically the share of people without work or program receipt. Using the administrative measures of program receipt rather than those from the survey ones often reduces the share of single mothers falling through the safety net by one-half or more.

April 11, 2016 • 617 Library Place • IPR


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

Abstract: In the United States, women graduate from high school at higher rates than men, and the female-male educational advantage is larger for certain groups—having increased more among students who are black and from low-socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds than among those who are white and from high-SES backgrounds. Figlio and his colleagues explore why boys fare worse than girls—both behaviorally and educationally—by matching birth, health, school, disciplinary, and high school graduation records for more than 1 million Florida children born between 1992 and 2002. Relative to their sisters, boys born to low-education and unmarried mothers who are raised in low-income neighborhoods and enrolled at poor-quality public elementary and middle schools are more likely to be truant, have behavioral problems, as well as a behavioral and cognitive disability, and perform worse on standardized tests. They are also are less likely to graduate from high school and more likely to commit serious crimes as juveniles. The researchers argue that the family disadvantage gradient in the gender gap is a causal effect of the postnatal environment: Family disadvantage has no relationship with the sibling gender gap in neonatal health. Though family disadvantage strongly correlates with schools and neighborhood quality, the SES gradient in the sibling gender gap is almost as large within schools and neighborhoods as between them.

April 18, 2016 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Melissa Simon 
George H. Gardner, MD, Professor of Clinical Gynecology; Associate Professor of General Preventative Medicine and Medical Social Sciences

“Architecture 101: Why This Matters for Population Health”

Abstract: Population health will not be achieved without health equity. In order to achieve health equity, we need to really think about the social determinants of health inequities rather than just the social determinants of health. This requires a deep dive into examining the architecture of multiple facets of health and the multiple pathways that lead to health.

April 25, 2016 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Stephanie Edgerly 
Assistant Professor of Journalism and IPR Associate

“New Media for New Voters: Youth News Exposure in an Age of Media Choice”

Abstract: Media choice is a defining characteristic of the current media environment. With more media options, however, there is also concern about how individuals manage the high-choice media environment and the implications for news exposure. Edgerly and her colleagues shed light on this by exploring how American youth (ages 12 to 17) learn to consume the news, with specific concern for which types of devices (television, computer, tablet, smartphone) they use for news. Using a national survey of parent-child dyads, the researchers explore: 1) the role of demographics in creating a home environment supportive of news use, 2) the importance of parental modeling of news use via different media devices, and whether the effect of modeling is complicated by the shift from shared to individualized media consumption, and 3) the impact of other socialization agents, such as peers and schools, in encouraging youth news consumption above and beyond characteristics of the home.

May 2, 2016 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Jolie Matthews 
Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences and IPR Associate

“Polarity in Social Media Spaces: Do Online Discussions Lead to Changed Opinions?”

Abstract: Peer discussions allow groups to generate and negotiate ideas they might not otherwise explore individually, but how do individuals within these groups handle opposing viewpoints? We live in an age of increasing ideological polarization. Though social media can increase exposure to diverse perspectives, the ability to filter and customize content means youth and the wider public can surround themselves with like-mindedness, too. Even if we choose to engage with different perspectives, does this lead to a change in our opinions? This talk examines discussion threads with the most comments in an online community over a four-year period. Matthews explores polarity of opinion and whether members of the community change their minds about an issue after engaging in extended peer discussion. The results have implications for thinking about the use of peer (especially online) discussions for learning, and what exactly we want students to get out of these situations in terms of “broadening” their perspective.

May 9, 2016 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Thomas D. Cook 
Joan and Sarepta Harrison Chair of Ethics and Justice; Professor of Sociology, Psychology, and Education and Social Policy; and IPR Fellow

“Evidence about Evidence-Based Social Policy”

Abstract: This talk is concerned with the growing number of inventories that evaluate, store, and market social policy ideas that are considered to be "evidence-based” and thus empirically justified as “working.” It describes similarities and differences in the quality criteria these inventories use and shows that the differences between them matter.

May 16, 2016 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Elizabeth Gerber 
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty Founder of Design for America, and IPR Associate

“Organizations and Technology to Empower Collective Innovation”

Abstract: Socio-technical infrastructure offers remarkable opportunities for improving innovation and the global economy by engaging geographically distributed and diverse individuals to identify, ideate, and implement new ideas, expanding the sources of innovation beyond the formal organization. But it is also possible that collective innovation will fail to achieve its potential by becoming increasingly professionalized, potentially raising the expectations for participation and failing to reach out to diverse networks, undermining participation. Can we foresee a future of collective innovation in which there is broad participation from identification to ideation and ultimately implementation? This talk frames the major challenges that stand in the way of this goal. Drawing on theory from social computing and organizational theory, Gerber outlines a framework that will support collective innovation that is inclusive, collaborative, and comprehensive and highlights six challenge areas: roles, communication, trust, reputation, feedback, and job design.

May 23, 2016 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


Seema Jayachandran 
Associate Professor of Economics and IPR Associate

“Cash for Carbon: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Payments for Ecosystem Services to Reduce Deforestation”

Abstract: This talk evaluates a Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) program in western Uganda that offered forest-owning households cash payments if they conserved their forest. The program was implemented as a randomized trial in 121 villages, 60 of which received the program for two years. The PES program reduced deforestation and forest degradation: Tree cover, measured using high-resolution satellite imagery, declined by 2 to 5 percent in treatment villages, compared with 7% to 10% in control villages during the study period. Jayachandran and her colleagues find no evidence of shifting of tree-cutting to nearby land. They then use the estimated effect size and “social cost of carbon” to value the delayed carbon dioxide emissions, and compare this benefit to the $28 per hectare per year payment level (in 2012 USD) and other program costs.

June 6, 2016 • Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street • IPR


IPR Q-Center Colloquium Series

Alan Zaslavsky 
Professor of Biostatistics, Harvard Medical School, Harvard University

“Multilevel Multivariate Models for Healthcare Quality Data”

Abstract: Zaslavsky will present two novel multivariate modeling applications to healthcare quality data. The first application analyzes similarly coded utilization data from Medicare’s managed care and fee-for-service sectors. After aggregating the data to obtain regional use patterns, the researchers applied factor analysis to draw from the posterior distribution of the Healthcare Referral Region-level covariance matrix to obtain Bayesian probability statements about factor-based groupings of utilization measures. In the second application, the researchers analyzed reports from beneficiaries on experiences in Medicare managed care plans. Variables derived from these data have a cross-classified structure: either correlated random effects for each measure by year, or correlated random coefficients for outcome measure by predictor variable. They imposed a separable structure on the covariance matrix by constraining it to be a Kronecker product of two positive definite symmetric matrices whose dimensions correspond to those of the two-way layout of variables. They also consider extensions to the model to a sum of Kronecker products, analogous to the sums of outer products in a principal components

April 6, 2016 • 617 Library Place • IPR


Thomas Louis 
Professor of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

“Perils and Potentials of Self-Selected Entry to Epidemiological Studies and Surveys”

Abstract: High-quality surveys and epidemiological or clinical studies are internally valid (valid inferences for the sample at hand). Traditional surveys directly address external validity (generalization of within-sample estimates to a target population) by designed sampling from a frame. The sample is ‘representative’ in that weights are available to transport it to a reference population. Analytical epidemiology and clinical trials have paid little explicit attention to external validity, but web-based enrollment with its low front-end cost, rapid accrual, and possible self-selection has amplified the importance of representation. I provide background and examples of these issues, the most central being whether conditional effects in the sample (the study population) can be transported to a desired target population or populations. Success depends on compatibility of causal structures, and taking advantage of information from observational studies and administrative databases can be helpful. Statisticians, epidemiologists and survey researchers should collaborate on clarifying goals, calling for the design of transportable studies, and developing analytic approaches. Increased cross-fertilization among the domains will benefit science and policy.

April 20, 2016 • 617 Library Place • IPR


Li Cai 
Professor of Education and of Psychology, and Co-Director, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing, UCLA

“The Role of Flexible Item Response Theory Models in Evaluation and Assessment Studies”

Abstract: Item response theory models have historically been reserved as a part of the psychometrician’s toolbox. When recast into a more general latent variable framework, however, such models provide natural connections to a number of useful approaches for educational evaluation and assessment research. Several recent examples of applying multidimensional and multilevel item response models are discussed.

May 11, 2016 • 617 Library Place • IPR


Social Disparities and Health (C2S) Workshop

Mark Hatzenbuehler 
Associate Professor and Co-Director, Center for the Study of Social Inequalities and Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

“Structural Stigma and Sexual Orientation Health Disparities: Research Evidence and Future Directions”

Abstract: Psychological research has made significant advancements in the study of stigma but has tended to focus almost exclusively on individual and interpersonal stigma processes. To address this knowledge gap, researchers have expanded the stigma construct to consider how broader, macrosocial forms of stigma—what we call structural stigma— also disadvantage stigmatized individuals. In this talk, Hatzenbuehler will define the construct of structural stigma and describe how it differs from stigma at the individual and interpersonal levels. He will then review cross-sectional, longitudinal, quasi-experimental, and laboratory studies from his research group that document the health consequences of exposure to structural stigma. These studies demonstrate that structural stigma has robust health consequences, ranging from dysregulated physiological responses in the laboratory to premature mortality at a population level. The talk will end with a discussion of future directions for structural stigma research, as well as implications of this work for reducing health inequalities. 

May 25, 2016 • Annenberg Hall 345, 2120 Campus Drive • IPR

Co-sponsored with the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing


Joint Economics/IPR Seminar Series

Magne Mogstad 
Professor in Economics, University of Chicago

“Incarceration, Recidivism, and Unemployment”

Abstract: In this paper, the authors exploit a rich panel dataset containing the criminal behavior and labor market outcomes of every Norwegian. They address threats to identification by exploiting the random assignment of criminal cases to Norwegian judges who differ systematically in their stringency in sentencing defendants to incarceration. Using judge stringency as an instrumental variable (IV), they find that imprisonment discourages further criminal behavior, and that the reduction extends beyond incapacitation. Incarceration decreases the probability an individual will reoffend within 5 years by 25 percentage points, and reduces total criminal charges over this same period by 10 crimes on average. Employment plays a large role in the recidivism drop. They find that defendants with little attachment to the formal labor market experience a large reduction in recidivism, and a correspondingly large increase in post-incarceration employment. In contrast, previously employed defendants experience no significant change in recidivism and suffer a lasting hit to their employment. These IV results stand in stark contrast to OLS, which finds increases in recidivism and reductions in employment, even after conditioning on a rich set of controls.

March 31, 2016 • Andersen Hall 3245, Jacobs Center, 2001 Sheridan Road • IPR


Eric Verhoogan
Associate Professor of Economics and International Affairs; Vice Dean, School of International and Public Affairs; and Co-Director, Center foe Development Economics and Policy, Columbia University

Export Destinations and Input Prices

Abstract: This paper examines the extent to which the destination of exports matters for the input prices paid by firms, using detailed customs and firm-product-level data from Portugal. The authors use exchange rate movements (interacted with indicators for initial exports) as a source of variation in destinations and find that exporting to richer countries leads firms to pay higher prices for inputs, other things equal. The results are supportive of what they call the income-based, quality-choice hypothesis: An exogenous increase in average destination income leads firms to raise the average quality of goods they produce and to purchase higher-quality inputs.

April 14, 2016 • Andersen Hall 3245, Jacobs Center, 2001 Sheridan Road • IPR


Joseph Altonji 
Thomas Dewitt Cuyler Professor of Economics and Professor in the Institute for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University

“Group-Average Observables as Controls for Sorting on Unobservables When Estimating Group Treatment Effects: The Case of School and Neighborhood Effects"

Abstract: The authors consider the classic problem of estimating group treatment effects when individuals sort based on observed and unobserved characteristics. Using a standard choice model, they show that controlling for group averages of observed individual characteristics potentially absorbs all the across-group variation in unobservable individual characteristics. They use this insight to bound the treatment effect variance of school systems and associated neighborhoods for various outcomes. Across four data sets, their conservative estimates indicate that a 90th versus 10th percentile school system increases high school graduation and college enrollment probabilities by at least 0.047 and 0.11. Other applications include measurement of teacher value-added.

May 19, 2016 • Andersen Hall 3245, Jacobs Center, 2001 Sheridan Road • IPR


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

“Does Privatized Health Insurance Benefit Patients or Producers? Evidence from Medicare Advantage”

Abstract: A central question in the debate over privatized Medicare is whether increased government payments to private Medicare Advantage (MA) plans generate lower premiums for consumers or higher profits for producers. Using difference-in-differences variation brought about by a sharp legislative change, Mahoney and his colleagues find that MA insurers pass through 44 percent of increased payments in lower premiums and an additional 8 percent in more generous benefits. They show that advantageous selection into MA cannot explain this incomplete pass-through. Instead, their evidence suggests that market power is important, with premium pass-through rates of 13 percent in the least competitive markets and 74 percent in the most competitive.

May 26, 2016 • Andersen Hall 3245, Jacobs Center, 2001 Sheridan Road • IPR


Alessandra Voena 
Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Chicago

 “Marriage, Social Insurance, and Labor Supply”

Abstract: Voena describes a dynamic model of marriage, labor supply, welfare participation, savings, and divorce under limited commitment and uses it to understand the impact of welfare reforms, including the time-limited eligibility in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The model provides a framework for estimating not only the short-term effects of welfare reforms on labor supply, but also the extent to which welfare benefits affect family formation and the way that transfers are allocated within the family. This is particularly important because many of these benefits are ultimately designed to support the well-being of women and children. The limited commitment framework in this model allows researchers to capture the effects on existing marriages, as well as marriages that will form after the reform has taken place, offering a better understanding of transitional impacts as well as longer-run steady state effects.

June 2, 2016 • Andersen Hall 3245, Jacobs Center, 2001 Sheridan Road • IPR