Archive for the 'Culture, Values and Attitudes' Category

Political Science: A self-inflicted wound?

Stanford University and Dartmouth have sent an open apology letter to the state of Montana for a voting experiment conducted by political scientists at their respective institutions. The study had IRB approval, at least from Dartmouth. It uses a database of ideological scores based on donors to identify the political affiliation of judges. See this Upshot article on the start-up company, Crowdpac, that developed this database. Montana is quite irritated with the use of the state of Montana seal on the mailer. Did that get through the IRB?

The letters:

Senator John Tester’s letter to Stanford & Dartmouth | The apology letter

Messing with Montana: Get-out-the -Vote Experiment Raises Ethics Questions
Melissa R. Michelson | The New West (blog of the Western Political Science Association)
October 25, 2014

Today, the Internet exploded with news about and reactions to a get-out-the-vote field experiment fielded by three political science professors that may have broken Montana state law and, at a minimum, called into question the ethics of conducting experiments that might impact election results.

Professors’ Research Project Stirs Political Outrage in Montana
Derek Willis | NY Times
October 28, 2014

Universities say they regret sending Montana voters election mailers criticized for being misleading
Hunter Schwarz | The Washington Post
October 29, 2014

The Economics of Parenting

By: Roberto A. Ferdman
Source: Wonkblog (Washington Post)

Strict parents — the sort who practice an authoritarian form of parenting that restricts children’s choices — are more common in countries with high inequality, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study used the World Value Survey to measure whether parents in different countries care more about qualities desired by stricter parents, like “hard work” and “obedience,” or qualities desired more by passive parents, like “imagination” and “independence.

It found that the more unequal a society, the more likely people were to favor strict parenting.

Wonkblog post
NBER Working Paper (PDF)

Fewer Marriages, More Divergence: Marriage Projections for Millennials to Age 40

By: Steven Martin, Nan Astone, Elizabeth Peters
Source: Urban Institute

Abstract:

Declining marriage rates suggest a growing fraction of millennials will remain unmarried through age 40. In this brief, we use data from the American Community Survey to estimate age-specific marriage rates and project the percentage of millennials who will marry by age 40 in different scenarios. We find that the percentage of millennials marrying by age 40 will fall lower than for any previous generation of Americans, even in a scenario where marriage rates recover considerably. Moreover, marriage patterns will continue to diverge by education and race, increasing the divides between mostly married “haves” and increasingly single “have-nots”.

Download full report

Fundamentalisms and Women’s Rights

Eldis has put together some resources on Christian and Islamic fundamentalism and women’s rights.

From the website:

This guide features a handful of excellent resources on this difficult and broad issue including: practical guidance on fundamentalisms for human rights activists; regional studies into Christian and Islamic fundamentalist discourses around sexual and reproductive health and rights; recommendations on broadening understanding and developing more nuanced approaches to tackling fundamentalisms; an overview of women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Find links to these resources here.

A Tape-Measure for Well-Being

by Tom Barlett
Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

From the article:

Pretty much everyone seems happy. In Australia, 93 percent of the population is either happy or very happy. In China, it’s 85 percent. Jordan: 86 percent. They’re chipper in Colombia at 92. Belarus is below average, at 64, but it still has a solid majority of happy campers. In the United States, 90 percent of us are happy and presumably steering clear of the sour-faced 10-percenters.

Those figures come from the latest round, released in April, of the World Values Survey, which has been tracking the beliefs and feelings of humanity since 1981. How do surveyors determine whether people are happy? They ask them. This is what social scientists usually do when they want to find out such things.

The theory is that you are the best source of information about your own happiness. But is that the case?

Read the full article and watch the video for Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”.

Mapping Twitter

Source: Pew Research Internet Project
By: Marc A. Smith, Lee Rainie, Ben Shneiderman, and Itai Himelboim

Mapping Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters

Conversations on Twitter create networks with identifiable contours as people reply to and mention one another in their tweets. These conversational structures differ, depending on the subject and the people driving the conversation. Six structures are regularly observed: divided, unified, fragmented, clustered, and inward and outward hub and spoke structures. These are created as individuals choose whom to reply to or mention in their Twitter messages and the structures tell a story about the nature of the conversation.

Overview
Complete Report (PDF)
Infographic: The six types of Twitter conversations

Stretching the boundaries of population science

Here is a link to Christine Bachrach’s 2013 PAA Presidential Address:

Culture and Demography: From Reluctant Bedfellows to Committed Partners
Christine Bachrach | Demography
Winter 2014
html | pdf

And, here is a link to a neuroscience/population science article co-authored by several PSC researchers:

What is a representative brain? Neuroscience meets population science
Emily Falk, et.al. | PNAS
October 2013
html | pdf

Measuring Morality Data

The first phase of the Measuring Morality project is complete and the data are freely available once the user has registered on the website (and agreed to send citations to the project).

Measuring Morality website
Technical Details | Codebook

In the second phase of this project, selected items from the above survey will be included in the fourth wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion.

New Data: Unintended Childbearing/Abortion Psychology

What Happens to Women Who Are Denied Abortions?
Joshua Lang | New York Times
June 12, 2013
This reports on the Turnaway Study [described below], but as is typical with a piece in the popular press it personifies the data. Here’s the gist of the article:

Most studies on the effects of abortion compare women who have abortions with those who choose to carry their pregnancies to term. It is like comparing people who are divorced with people who stay married, instead of people who get the divorce they want with the people who don’t. Foster saw this as a fundamental flaw. By choosing the right comparison groups — women who obtain abortions just before the gestational deadline versus women who miss that deadline and are turned away — Foster hoped to paint a more accurate picture. Do the physical, psychological and socioeconomic outcomes for these two groups of women differ? Which is safer for them, abortion or childbirth? Which causes more depression and anxiety? “I tried to measure all the ways in which I thought having a baby might make you worse off,” Foster says, “and the ways in which having a baby might make you better off, and the same with having an abortion.

The Turnaway Study
ANSRH | University of California, San Francisco
The Turnaway Study is ANSIRH’s prospective longitudinal study examining the effects of unintended pregnancy on women’s lives. The major aim of the study is to describe the mental health, physical health, and socioeconomic consequences of receiving an abortion compared to carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. From 2008 to 2010, we collaborated with 30 abortion facilities around the country—from Maine to Washington, Texas to Minnesota—to recruit over 1,000 women who sought abortions, some who received abortions because they presented for care under the gestational limit of the clinic and some who were “turned away” and carried to term because they were past the gestational limit.

Sex Selection: When Technology and Tradition Collide

When Technology and Tradition Collide: From Gender Bias to Sex Selection
Kate Gilles and Charlotte Feldman-Jacobs | Population Reference Bureau
September 2012

Bullet points from this policy brief are:

Normal sex ratios at birth range from 102 to 107 male babies born for every 100 female babies born

1.5 millions girls around the world are missing at birth every year.

In at least nine countries, the sex ratio at birth of boy babies to girl babies is at 110 or higher.