Criminal Deportations Increased Crime

A policy increasing criminal deportations from the US to El Salvador led to increases in homicide rates and gang activity in El Salvador, and spurred increased gang migration to the US.

Spreading Gangs: Exporting US Criminal Capital to El Salvador
Author(s)
Maria Micaela Sviatschi
Journal
American Economic Review
Citation
Sviatschi, Maria Micaela. 2022. "Spreading Gangs: Exporting US Criminal Capital to El Salvador." American Economic Review, 112 (6): 1985-2024. Copy
Abstract

This paper shows how deportation policies can backfire by disseminating not only ideas between countries but also criminal networks, spreading gangs, in this case, across El Salvador, and spurring migration back to the United States. In 1996, the US Illegal Immigration Responsibility Act increased the number of criminal deportations. In particular, the members of large Salvadoran gangs developed in Los Angeles were sent back to El Salvador. Using variation in criminal deportations over time and across cohorts, combined with geographical variation in US gangs' location, I find that these deportations led to an increase in homicide rates and gang activity, as well as an increase in gang recruitment and migration of children.

Electoral Incentives Increase Legislators’ Productivity

State legislators who can no longer seek reelection sponsor fewer bills, are less productive on committees, and are absent for more floor votes.

How Do Electoral Incentives Affect Legislator Behavior? Evidence from U.S. State Legislatures
Author(s)
Alexander Fouirnaies and Andrew B. Hall
Journal
American Political Science Review
Citation
FOUIRNAIES, A., & HALL, A. (2022). How Do Electoral Incentives Affect Legislator Behavior? Evidence from U.S. State Legislatures. American Political Science Review, 116(2), 662-676. doi:10.1017/S0003055421001064 Copy
Abstract

A classic question about democratic elections is how much they are able to influence politician behavior by forcing them to anticipate future reelection attempts, especially in contexts where voters are not paying close attention and are not well informed. We compile a new dataset containing roughly 780,000 bills, combined with more than 16 million roll-call voting records for roughly 6,000 legislators serving in U.S. state legislatures with term limits. Using an individual-level difference-in-differences design, we find that legislators who can no longer seek reelection sponsor fewer bills, are less productive on committees, and are absent for more floor votes, on average. Building a new dataset of roll-call votes and interest-group ratings, we find little evidence that legislators who cannot run for reelection systematically shift their ideological platforms. In sum, elections appear to influence how legislators allocate their effort in important ways even in low-salience environments but may have less influence on ideological positioning.

Randomizing Court Fees

Randomizing court fees charged to misdemeanor defendants in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma reveals that court fees neither deter nor increase new crime, and produce little financial benefit for governments.

Criminalizing Poverty: The Consequences of Court Fees in a Randomized Experiment
Author(s)
Devah Pager, Rebecca Goldstein, Helen Ho, and Bruce Western
Journal
American Sociological Review
Citation
Pager D, Goldstein R, Ho H, Western B. Criminalizing Poverty: The Consequences of Court Fees in a Randomized Experiment. American Sociological Review. 2022;87(3):529-553. doi:10.1177/00031224221075783 Copy
Abstract

Court-related fines and fees are widely levied on criminal defendants who are frequently poor and have little capacity to pay. Such financial obligations may produce a criminalization of poverty, where later court involvement results not from crime but from an inability to meet the financial burdens of the legal process. We test this hypothesis using a randomized controlled trial of court-related fee relief for misdemeanor defendants in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. We find that relief from fees does not affect new criminal charges, convictions, or jail bookings after 12 months. However, control respondents were subject to debt collection efforts at significantly higher rates that involved new warrants, additional court debt, tax refund garnishment, and referral to a private debt collector. Despite significant efforts at debt collection among those in the control group, payments to the court totaled less than 5 percent of outstanding debt. The evidence indicates that court debt charged to indigent defendants neither caused nor deterred new crime, and the government obtained little financial benefit. Yet, fines and fees contributed to a criminalization of low-income defendants, placing them at risk of ongoing court involvement through new warrants and debt collection.

Pricing Earthquake Risk

In a quarterly panel dataset of real estate transaction prices for five Japanese cities over the period 2006–2015, earthquake risk is priced at an average –2.0% of log property prices, slightly more than the annual income of a middle-income Japanese household.

Earthquake Risk Embedded in Property Prices: Evidence From Five Japanese Cities
Author(s)
Masako Ikefuji, Roger J. A. Laeven, Jan R. Magnus, and Yuan Yue
Journal
Journal of the American Statistical Association
Citation
Masako Ikefuji, Roger J. A. Laeven, Jan R. Magnus & Yuan Yue (2022) Earthquake Risk Embedded in Property Prices: Evidence From Five Japanese Cities, Journal of the American Statistical Association, 117:537, 82-93, DOI: 10.1080/01621459.2021.1928512 Copy
Abstract

We analyze the impact of short-run (90 days) and long-run (30 years) earthquake risk on real estate transaction prices in five Japanese cities (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, and Sapporo), using quarterly data over the period 2006–2015. We exploit a rich panel dataset (331,343 observations) with property characteristics, ward attractiveness information, macroeconomic variables, and long-run seismic hazard data, supplemented with short-run earthquake probabilities generated from a seismic excitation model using historical earthquake occurrences. We design a hedonic property price model that allows for subjective probability weighting, employ a multivariate error components structure, and develop associated maximum likelihood estimation and variance computation procedures. Our approach enables us to identify the total compensation for earthquake risk embedded in property prices, to decompose this into pieces stemming from short-run and long-run risk, and to distinguish between objective and subjectively weighted (“distorted”) earthquake probabilities. We find that objective long-run earthquake probabilities have a statistically significant negative impact on property prices, whereas short-run earthquake probabilities become statistically significant only when we allow them to be distorted. The total compensation for earthquake risk amounts to an average –2.0% of log property prices, slightly more than the annual income of a middle-income Japanese household. Supplementary materials for this article, including a standardized description of the materials available for reproducing the work, are available as an online supplement.

Understanding Vaccine Hesitancy

A nationally representative survey finds that parents’ vaccination decisions are correlated with their beliefs about whether society is on their side.

Belief Correlations with Parental Vaccine Hesitancy: Results From a National Survey
Author(s)
Luke J. Matthews, Sarah A. Nowak, Courtney C. Gidengil, Christine Chen, Joseph M. Stubbersfield, Jamshid J. Tehrani, and Andrew M. Parker
Journal
American Anthropologist
Citation
Matthews, L. J., Nowak, S. A., Gidengil, C. C., Chen, C., Stubbersfield, J. M., Tehrani, J. J., and Parker, A. M.. 2022. “ Belief correlations with parental vaccine hesitancy: Results from a national survey.” American Anthropologist. 124: 291– 306. https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.13714 Copy
Abstract

We conducted a nationally representative survey of parents’ beliefs and self-reported behaviors regarding childhood vaccinations. Using Bayesian selection among multivariate models, we found that beliefs, even those without any vaccine or health content, predicted vaccine-hesitant behaviors better than demographics, social network effects, or scientific reasoning. The multivariate structure of beliefs combined many types of ideation that included concerns about both conspiracies and side effects. Although they are not strongly related to vaccine-hesitant behavior, demographics were key predictors of beliefs. Our results support some of the previously proposed pro-vaccination messaging strategies and suggest some new strategies not previously considered.

Financing Westward Expansion with Native Wealth

Native lands in the United States were purchased through federally-administered trust funds, enabling the use of Native wealth to finance the banks, canals, and railways that led to further Native dispossession.

Fiduciary Colonialism: Annuities and Native Dispossession in the Early United States
Author(s)
Emilie Connolly
Journal
The American Historical Review
Citation
Emilie Connolly, Fiduciary Colonialism: Annuities and Native Dispossession in the Early United States, The American Historical Review, Volume 127, Issue 1, March 2022, Pages 223–253, https://doi.org/10.1093/ahr/rhac012 Copy
Abstract

Federal officials in the early United States built an empire by purchase. But rather than hand over lump sums for Native lands, officials offered annual payments, or annuities. This article traces annuities’ material evolution from payments in goods to high-powered money—especially specie—and their financial evolution from straightforward congressional outlays to interest accrued on investments held in trust. Annuities originated as devices that could permit territorial expansion within considerable military-fiscal constraints. But once in use, they became potent instruments of federal power, shoring up officials’ capacity to intrude on Native economies, wrench further territorial transfers, and channel Indigenous wealth as capital for the very infrastructural projects that spread US settlement. Overall, annuities and the trust funds into which they evolved anchored a strategy of dispossession I call fiduciary colonialism: a mode of territorial acquisition and population management carried out through the expansion of administrative control over Native peoples’ wealth. In the face of federal claims to financial superiority, Indigenous peoples did not wither into wardship. Rather, they engaged trusteeship with their own futures in mind, applying annuities and trusts toward social institutions that would allow their nations to survive the ordeal of dispossession.

Using Randomized Controlled Trials to Improve the Scientific Process

Conducting randomized controlled trials on alternative strategies for conducting social and behavioral science may increase the quality of scientific findings.

Now Is the Time to Assess the Effects of Open Science Practices With Randomized Control Trials
Author(s)
J. Suls, A.J. Rothman and K.W. Davidson
Journal
American Psychologist
Citation
Suls, J., Rothman, A. J., & Davidson, K. W. (2022). Now is the time to assess the effects of open science practices with randomized control trials. American Psychologist, 77(3), 467–475. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000871 Copy
Abstract

We issue a call for the design and conduct of experimental trials to test the effects of researchers’ adoption of Open Science (OS) research practices. OS emerged to address lapses in the transparency, quality, integrity, and reproducibility of research by proposing that investigators institute practices, such as preregistering study hypotheses, procedures, and statistical analyses, before launching their research. These practices have been greeted with enthusiasm by some parts of the scientific community, but empirical evidence of their effects relies mainly on observational studies; furthermore, questions remain about the time and effort required by these practices and their ultimate benefit to science. To assess the outcomes of OS research practices, we propose they be viewed as behavioral interventions for scientists and tested in randomized controlled trials (RCTs), to identify potential benefits and (unintended) harms. As this is a call to action rather than an action plan per se, we sketch out four potential trial designs to encourage further deliberation and planning. Experimental tests to document the outcomes of OS practices can provide evidence to optimize how scientists, funders, policymakers, and institutions utilize these strategies to advance scientific practice.

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