United States

  • July 2, 2014
    To better evaluate the weight of economic versus cultural factors in determining individual attitudes toward open borders, this article reports on a survey experiment conducted over the course of the Great Recession. Over the course of the recession, we measured changes in attitudes on both immigration and trade policies, controlling for economic circumstance. Based on the data provided by respondents on both their current salaries as well as a subjective assessment of their economic well-being, we illustrate how both objective and subjective perceptions of the economy interact with cultural factors and influence attitudes on open borders. The panel provides a unique picture of the “stickiness” of policy attitudes in hard economic times, and by extension, the level of commitment in the United States to globalization.
  • June 30, 2014
    The Obama administration has made a major investment in comparative effectiveness research (CER) to learn what treatments work best for which patients. CER has the potential to reduce wasteful medical spending and improve patient outcomes, but the political sustainability of this initiative remains unclear because of concerns that it will threaten the doctor-patient relationship. An unresolved question is whether it is possible to boost public support for the use of CER as a cost-control strategy. We investigate one potential source of public support: Americans’ trust in physicians as faithful agents of patient interests. We conducted two national surveys to explore the public’s confidence in doctors compared to other groups. We find that doctors are viewed as harder workers, more trustworthy, and more caring than other professionals. Through survey experiments, we demonstrate that the support of doctors’ groups for proposals to control costs and use CER have a greater influence on aggregate public opinion than do cues from political actors including congressional Democrats, Republicans, and a bipartisan commission. Our survey results suggest that the medical profession’s stance will be an important factor in shaping the political viability of efforts to use CER as a tool for health care cost control.
  • May 6, 2014
    One way that principals can overcome the problem of informational asymmetries in hierarchical organizations is to enable whistleblowing. We evaluate how whistleblowing influences compliance in the judicial hierarchy. We present a formal model in which a potential whistleblower may, at some cost, signal noncompliance by a lower court to a higher court. A key insight of the model is that whistleblowing is most informative when it is rare. While the presence of a whistleblower can increase compliance by lower courts, beyond a certain point blowing the whistle is counterproductive and actually reduces compliance. Moreover, a whistleblower who is a “perfect ally” of the higher court (in terms of preferences) blows the whistle too often. Our model shows an important connection between the frequency of whistleblowing and the effectiveness of whistleblowing as a threat to induce compliance in hierarchical organizations.
  • March 12, 2014
    Prior work finds that voters punish candidates for sponsoring attack ads. What remains unknown is the extent to which a negative ad is more effective if it is sponsored by a party or an independent group instead. We conducted three experiments in which we randomly assigned participants to view a negative ad that was identical except for its sponsor. We find that candidates can benefit from having a party or group “do their dirty work,” but particularly if a group does, and that the most likely explanation for why this is the case is that many voters simply do not connect candidates to the ads sponsored by parties and groups. We also find that in some circumstances, a group-sponsored attack ad produces less polarization than one sponsored by a party. We conclude by discussing the implications our research has for current debates about the proper role of independent groups in electoral politics.
  • April 24, 2014
    On U.S. electoral history, a good deal of research and experience has accrued since the ‘realignments’ interpretation kicked in half a century ago. Illuminating work has come from political science, economics, sociology, and history. Perspectives on other countries have weighed in. New concepts and measures have been introduced. Today, the American record looks quite different than it did in the 1960s. In a discussion of pattern and cause, six topics need to be highlighted: economic conditions, national security crises, race, long-term parity between the parties, short-term homeostasis, and personal incumbency advantage.
  • April 15, 2014
    The current field experiment investigated if and how Latinos versus Anglos experience biased treatment in a setting where documentation is relevant. In an audit experiment, Latino customers were treated differently than a matched team of Anglo customers when making $10 check payments at retail stores. Specifically, Latinos were asked to present an identification card (ID) more frequently than Anglo customers, were quoted a higher minimum-dollar amount for purchasing a gift certificate, and received more negative affect from salespersons. Among those who were asked for identification, a municipal-issued ID card was declined at equal rates from Latinos and Anglos, while an unofficial ID card was declined more from Anglos than Latinos. The association of Latino identity with foreignness and undocumented immigration, and the potential of municipal-ID card programs to serve undocumented immigrants are discussed.
  • April 8, 2014
    Recent research finds that doubts about the integrity of the secret ballot as an institution persist among the American public. We build on this finding by providing novel field experimental evidence about how information about ballot secrecy protections can increase turnout among registered voters who had not previously voted. First, we show that a private group’s mailing designed to address secrecy concerns modestly increased turnout in the highly contested 2012 Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election. Second, we exploit this and an earlier field experiment conducted in Connecticut during the 2010 congressional midterm election season to identify the persistent effects of such messages from both governmental and non-governmental sources. Together, these results provide new evidence about how message source and campaign context affect efforts to mobilize previous non-voters by addressing secrecy concerns, as well as show that attempting to address these beliefs increases long-term participation.
  • March 5, 2014
    The Voting Rights Act of 1965, called one of the most effective pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history, generated dramatic increases in black voter registration across the South. We ask whether the increase in black voting rights was accompanied by an increase in blacks’ share of public spending. We exploit a key provision of the act—removal of literacy tests at registration—for identification. Employing a triple-difference framework over a 20-year period, we find that counties with higher black population shares in former literacy test states saw greater increases in both voter turnout and state transfers than comparison counties in non–literacy test states, a finding that is consistent with models of distributive politics.
  • February 18, 2014
    What explains the relative persistence of same-race romantic relationships? One possible explanation is structural–this phenomenon could reflect the fact that social interactions are already stratified along racial lines–while another attributes these patterns to individual-level preferences. We present novel evidence from an online dating community involving more than 250,000 people in the United States about the frequency with which individuals both express a preference for same-race romantic partners and act to choose same-race partners. Prior work suggests that political ideology is an important correlate of conservative attitudes about race in the United States, and we find that conservatives, including both men and women and blacks and whites, are much more likely than liberals to state a preference for same-race partners. Further, conservatives are not simply more selective in general; they are specifically selective with regard to race. Do these stated preferences predict real behaviors? In general, we find that stated preferences are a strong predictor of a behavioral preference for same-race partners, and that this pattern persists across ideological groups. At the same time, both men and women of all political persuasions act as if they prefer same-race relationships even when they claim not to. As a result, the gap between conservatives and liberals in revealed same-race preferences, while still substantial, is not as pronounced as their stated attitudes would suggest. We conclude by discussing some implications of our findings for the broader issues of racial homogamy and segregation.
  • February 10, 2014
    This study investigates the concentration of nonfatal gunshot injuries within risky social networks. Using six years of data on gunshot victimization and arrests in Chicago, we reconstruct patterns of co-offending for the city and locate gunshot victims within these networks. Results indicate that 70 percent of all nonfatal gunshot victims during the observation period can be located in co-offending networks comprised of less than 6 percent of the city’s population. Results from logistic regression models suggest that as an individual’s exposure to gunshot victims increases, so too do that individual’s odds of victimization. Even small amounts of exposure can dramatically increase the odds of victimization, moreover. For instance, every 1 percent increase in exposure to gunshot victims in one’s immediate network increases the odds of victimization by roughly 1.1 percent, holding all else constant. These observed associations are more pronounced for young minority males, and effects of exposure extend to indirect network ties at distances of two to three steps removed. These findings imply that the risk of gunshot victimization is more concentrated than previously thought, being concentrated in small and identifiable networks of individuals engaging in risky behavior, in this case criminal activity.
  • January 28, 2014
    The valence component of a party's reputation, or brand, has been less scrutinized than other components of party-based theories of legislatures. This lack of scrutiny results from the diffculty of isolating the valence component from policy-related components and the difficulty of studying legislators' motives. We overcome these challenges by conducting survey experiments on both voters and state legislators that show (1) that scholars have underestimated the impact of the party valence brand's potential role in elections, (2) that legislative party leaders pressure members more on votes when the outcome aff ects the party valence brand, and (3) that the value of the party brand can sometimes directly aff ect legislators' votes. Our results provide a rationale for why legislative leaders put so much eff ort into media spin battles, and suggest that parties' reputations a ffect legislative leaders' ability to pass their agenda.
  • January 21, 2014
    The quality of clinical trial evidence used by the FDA as the basis for recent approvals of novel therapeutic agents varied widely across indications. This variation has important implications for patients and physicians as they make decisions about the use of newly approved therapeutic agents.
  • December 9, 2013
    This article investigates the long-term effect of September 11, 2001 on the political behaviors of victims’ families and neighbors. Relative to comparable individuals, family members and residential neighbors of victims have become—and have stayed—significantly more active in politics in the last 12 years, and they have become more Republican on account of the terrorist attacks. The method used to demonstrate these findings leverages the random nature of the terrorist attack to estimate a causal effect and exploits new techniques to link multiple, individual-level, governmental databases to measure behavioral change without relying on surveys or aggregate analysis.
  • December 9, 2013
    Over the past two decades, the United States has experienced an unpredicted drop in crime. Chicago, while often portrayed as a violent city, has seen sustained drops in violent crime and homicide rates during this time, but particularly recently. Using annual crime data, this report briefly describes temporal and spatial trends of major index crime in Chicago from 1965 to 2013. Overall, Chicago—like other U.S. cities—experienced a significant decline in overall crime and violent crime. Present day levels of violent crime are, in fact, at their lowest rates in four decades. Furthermore, nearly all communities experienced declines in crime, although the rates of decline were greater in some communities than others. Over the past three years, for example, all but five communities (out of 77) experienced declines in violent crime. Those areas that experienced increases were and continue to be some of Chicago’s safest areas. While the drop in violent crime is shared between low and high crime areas alike, there remain areas of the city where violent crime rates are unacceptably high. Rates of homicide have also decreased over this period following the overall city-wide pattern, with some unique patterns emerging surrounding the contexts of gang homicide. The objective of this report is to simply document these historical trends and not to assign any casual interpretations of the vanguards of crime rates of this period. Directions for future investigation are also discussed.
  • January 1, 2014
    Extract: We live in the midst of what may be the most visible and transformative government intervention since the 1960s. The number of prisoners has multiplied fivefold in just 35 years. At the same time, other types of criminal justice contact—from the use of misdemeanor charges (Natapoff 2012) to stop-and-frisks (to brief detentions based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity rather than probable cause)—have dramatically increased as well (Fagan et al. 2010). In the words of historian William Novak, “The power of the U.S. government to regulate, study, order, discipline, and punish its citizens . . . has never been greater” (2008, 760). This power has not been felt equally by all Americans. For most, it is virtually invisible. For men of color—especially those who reside in the poorest neighborhoods—and for the people close to them, it is the most sustained and consequential interaction with government that they experience, and among the most pervasive features of their social lives. In short, criminal justice has become a key way that citizens and communities interact with their state. And yet we know strikingly little about its political and civic consequences. In this volume, a set of distinguished scholars from many disciplines considers these effects.
  • November 14, 2013
    Objectives. We estimated the association of an individual’s exposure to homicide in a social network and the risk of individual homicide victimization across a high-crime African American community. Methods. Combining 5 years of homicide and police records, we analyzed a network of 3718 high-risk individuals that was created by instances of co-offending. We used logistic regression to model the odds of being a gunshot homicide victim by individual characteristics, network position, and indirect exposure to homicide. Results. Forty-one percent of all gun homicides occurred within a network component containing less than 4% of the neighborhood’s population. Network-level indicators reduced the association between individual risk factors and homicide victimization and improved the overall prediction of individual victimization. Network exposure to homicide was strongly associated with victimization: the closer one is to a homicide victim, the greater the risk of victimization. Regression models show that exposure diminished with social distance: each social tie removed from a homicide victim decreased one’s odds of being a homicide victim by 57%. Conclusions. Risk of homicide in urban areas is even more highly concentrated than previously thought. We found that most of the risk of gun violence was concentrated in networks of identifiable individuals. Understanding these networks may improve prediction of individual homicide victimization within disadvantaged communities. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print November 14, 2013: e1–e8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301441)