Putting a Price on the Welfare of Our Children and Grandchildren
In "The Globalization of Cost-Benefit Analysis in Environmental Policy", edited by Michael A. Livermore, and Richard L. Revesz. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Maria Damon, Kristina Mohlin, and Thomas Sterner
Discount rates have a profound effect on estimates for costs and benefits that accrue over time or in the future. Given that minute differences in discount rates can result in enormous differences in future values, discounting implicates moral as well as technical issues. This chapter reviews some of the main issues that discounting presents and discusses some important recent debates over time-varying discount rates and the importance of relative prices when examining effects of public policy in the far future. The authors also collect and discuss the discount rates currently used by decision makers around the world, and explain how differences in level of development should and should not affect the discount rates used by analysts.
Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy
Oxford University Press.
Persily, Nathaniel, Jack Citrin and Patrick J. Egan, eds.
American politics is most notably characterized by the heated debates on constitutional interpretation at the core of its ever-raging culture wars, and the coverage of these lingering disputes is often inundated with public-opinion polls. Yet for all their prominence in contemporary society, there has never been an all-inclusive, systematic study of public opinion and how it impacts the courts and electoral politics. This book provides a comprehensive analysis of American public opinion on the key constitutional controversies of the 20th century, including desegregation, school prayer, abortion, the death penalty, affirmative action, gay rights, assisted suicide, and national security, to name just a few. With chapters focusing on each issue in-depth, the book utilizes public-opinion data to illustrate these contemporary debates, methodically examining each one and how public attitudes have shifted over time, especially in the wake of prominent Supreme Court decisions. The chapters join the “popular constitutionalism” debate between those who advocate a dominant role for courts in constitutional adjudication and those who prefer a more pluralized constitutional discourse. Each chapter also details the gap between the public and the Supreme Court on these hotly contested issues and analyzes how and why this divergence of opinion has grown or shrunk over the last fifty years.
You May Ask Yourself: An Introduction to Thinking Like a Sociologist
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
The Long-Term Effects of Military Conscription on Mortality: Estimates From the Vietnam-Era Draft Lottery
Conley, Dalton and Jennifer Heerwig.
Research on the effects of Vietnam military service suggests that Vietnam veterans experienced significantly higher mortality than the civilian population at large. These results, however, may be biased by nonrandom selection into the military if unobserved background differences between veterans and nonveterans affect mortality directly. To generate unbiased estimates of exposure to conscription on mortality, the present study compares the observed proportion of draft-eligible male decedents born 1950–1952 to the (1) expected proportion of draft-eligible male decedents given Vietnam draft-eligibility cutoffs; and (2) observed proportion of draft-eligible decedent women. The results demonstrate no effect of draft exposure on mortality, including for cause-specific death rates. When we examine population subgroups—including splits by race, educational attainment, nativity, and marital status—we find weak evidence for an interaction between education and draft eligibility. This interaction works in the opposite direction of putative education-enhancing, mortality-reducing effects of conscription that have, in the past, led to concern about a potential exclusion restriction violation in instrumental variable (IV) regression models. We suggest that previous research, which has shown that Vietnam-era veterans experienced significantly higher mortality than nonveterans, might be biased by nonrandom selection into the military and should be further investigated.
U.S. Ratification of the CRC and Reducing Child Poverty: Can We Get There from Here?
Child Welfare, 89(5): 159-175
Aber, J.L., Hammond, A.S. & S.M. Thompson.
If the United States finally ratifies the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), will it improve the country's to effectively combat child poverty and thereby improve child well-being? This article addresses this and related questions in two ways. First, the authors examine how ratification of the CRC has influenced the efforts of other wealthy Anglophone countries to reduce child poverty. Second, they draw on lessons learned from these other countries' efforts to generate predictions about America's postratification future. The authors conclude that, while the CRC is a compelling, practical tool, a communications strategy and business plan are necessary complements to achieve desired results.
A School-Randomized Clinical Trial of an Integrated Social-Emotional Learning and Literacy Intervention: Impacts on Third-Grade Outcomes
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(6): 829-842
Jones, S.M., Brown, J.L, Hoglund, W.L.G., & J.L. Aber.
Objective: To report experimental impacts of a universal, integrated school-based intervention in social–emotional learning and literacy development on change over 1 school year in 3rd-grade children's social–emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes. Method: This study employed a school-randomized, experimental design and included 942 3rd-grade children (49% boys; 45.6% Hispanic/Latino, 41.1% Black/African American, 4.7% non-Hispanic White, and 8.6% other racial/ethnic groups, including Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American) in 18 New York City public elementary schools. Data on children's social–cognitive processes (e.g., hostile attribution biases), behavioral symptomatology (e.g., conduct problems), and literacy skills and academic achievement (e.g., reading achievement) were collected in the fall and spring of 1 school year. Results: There were main effects of the 4Rs Program after 1 year on only 2 of the 13 outcomes examined. These include children's self-reports of hostile attributional biases (Cohen's d = 0.20) and depression ( d = 0.24). As expected based on program and developmental theory, there were impacts of the intervention for those children identified by teachers at baseline with the highest levels of aggression ( d = 0.32–0.59) on 4 other outcomes: children's self-reports of aggressive fantasies, teacher reports of academic skills, reading achievement scaled scores, and children's attendance. Conclusions: This report of effects of the 4Rs intervention on individual children across domains of functioning after 1 school year represents an important first step in establishing a better understanding of what is achievable by a schoolwide intervention such as the 4Rs in its earliest stages of unfolding. The first-year impacts, combined with our knowledge of sustained and expanded effects after a second year, provide evidence that this intervention may be initiating positive developmental cascades both in the general population of students and among those at highest behavioral risk.
Improving Classroom Quality: Teacher Influences and Experimental Impacts of the 4Rs Program
Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(1), 153-167
Brown, J.L., Jones, S.M., LaRusso, M.D., & J.L. Aber.
This study capitalizes on recent advances in the reliable and valid measurement of classroom-level social processes known to influence children's social–emotional and academic development and addresses a number of limitations in our current understanding of teacher- and intervention-related impacts on elementary school classroom processes. A cluster randomized controlled trial design was employed to (a) examine whether teacher social–emotional functioning forecasts differences in the quality of 3rd-grade classrooms, (b) test the experimental impact of a school-based social–emotional learning and literacy intervention on the quality of classroom processes controlling for teacher social–emotional functioning, and (c) examine whether intervention impacts on classroom quality are moderated by these teacher-related factors. Results indicated (a) positive effects of teachers' perceived emotional ability on classroom quality; (b) positive effects of the 4Rs Program on overall classroom quality, net of teacher social–emotional functioning indicators; and (c) intervention effects that are robust to differences in these teacher factors. These findings support and extend recent research examining intervention-induced changes in classroom-level social processes fundamental to positive youth development.
SEL: The history of a research–practice partnership
Better: Evidence-based Education, 2(2), 14-15
Aber. L., Brown, J., Jones, S., & T. Roderick.
Valuing Improvement in Value Based Purchasing
Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. 5:163-170
Borden, William and Jan Blustein.
Medicare will soon implement hospital value-based purchasing (VBP), using a scoring system that rewards both achievement (absolute performance) and improvement (performance increase over time). However, improvement is defined so as to give less credit to initial low performers than initial high performers. Since initial low performers are disproportionately hospitals in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, these institutions stand to lose under Medicare’s VBP proposal.
We developed an alternative improvement scale, and applied it to hospital performance throughout the US. Using 2005-2008 Medicare process measures for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and heart failure (HF), we calculated hospital scores using Medicare’s proposal and our alternative. Hospital performance scores were compared across 5 locational dimensions of socioeconomic disadvantage: poverty, unemployment, physician shortage, high school and college graduation rates.
Medicare’s proposed scoring system yielded higher overall scores for the most locationally advantaged hospitals for 4 out of 5 dimensions in AMI and 2 out of 5 for HF. Using our alternative, differences in overall scores between hospitals in the most and least advantaged areas were attenuated, with locationally advantaged hospitals having higher overall scores for 3 out of 5 dimensions in AMI and 1 out of 5 dimensions for HF.
Using an alternative VBP formula that reflects the principle of “equal credit for equal improvement,” resulted in a more equitable distribution of overall payment scores, which could allow hospitals in both socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged areas to succeed under VBP.