Fall 2010 Awards

Cohort Highlight: Institute for the Social Sciences Awards Interdisciplinary Research Grants

Can an Improved Sales Contract Speed Adoption of Improved Stoves?
Garrick Blalock, AEM
David Levine, University of California

Youth, Identities, and Transnational Flows
Debra A. Castillo, Latin American Studies
Mary Jo Dudley, Cornell Farmworker Program
Sofia Villenas, Latino Studies

The Interaction of Syntax, Semantics and Prosody in Slovenian
Molly Diesing, Linguistics
Draga Zec, Linguistics

Limited Rationality and the Strategic Environment: An Experimental Study

Ori Heffetz, JGSM
Michael Waldman, JGSM
Kristen B. Cooper, AEM

Capital Jurors Deciding Intellectual Disability: What Matters and Why?
Sheri Lynn Johnson, Law
Christopher Seeds, Law
John Blume, Law

Unpacking the Nano: The Price of the World’s Most Affordable Car

Kent Kleinman, AAP
Mary N. Woods, AAP

Immigration, Intra- and Inter-generational Socio-Economic Mobility
Daniel R. Lichter, PAM
Dean R. Lillard, PAM
Rebekka Christopoulou, Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center
Co-sponsored with generous support by the Cornell Population Program 

Do International Bond Markets Diversify Portfolio Risk?

Edith X. Liu, AEM

What Drives the Stock Price Runups? Insider Trading vs. Market Anticipation
Qingzhong Ma, Hotel Administration

The Coevolution of Individuals and Their Social Setting: A Multi-site Longitudinal Study
Brian Rubineau, ILR
David Lazer, Northeastern University
Michael Neblo, Ohio State University

The Impact of Social Eating Patterns on Workplace Productivity and Organizational Commitment: Initiating a Program of Firefighter Research
Brian Wansink, AEM
Kevin M. Kniffin, AEM
William D. Schulze,AEM
Carol M. Devine, Nutritional Sciences
Jeffery Sobal, Nutiritional Sciences

Can an Improved Sales Contract Speed Adoption of Improved Stoves?
Garrick Blalock, AEM and David Levine, University of California

Almost half the world cooks on inefficient wood and charcoal cookstoves. Each year these stoves kill over a million people a year from indoor air pollution, contribute to deforestation, and release billions of tonnes of CO2. Improved cookstoves can reduce these problems and also save poor households substantial time and money. Nevertheless, improved stoves are not widely adopted by the global poor. Constraints limiting the dissemination of improved cookstoves include liquidity constraints, lack of information on the benefits of the improved cookstoves, distrust that the benefits will be realized, and lack of confidence that the stove is durable. An improved sales contract can address these constraints. In this pilot test in Uganda we will offer a warranty, a small amount of free food, a free trial period, and scheduled installment payments the customer can stop at any time if they dislike the stove (that is, rent-to-own).

Update: Prof. Blalock’s research team has leveraged the initial ISS small grant funds with a second grant from ACSF and a third grant from USAID. As a result, the project is now much bigger than initially projected. This project is up and running with data coming in via mobile phone. Data from the field team in Uganda will accrue over the first half of 2012 with analysis to start in the Fall 2012.

Youth, Identities, and Transnational Flows
Debra A. Castillo, Latin American Studies, Mary Jo Dudley, Cornell Farmworker Program and Sofia Villenas, Latino Studies

The Latin American Studies Program, the Latino Studies Program and the Cornell
Farmworkers Program, in collaboration with Ithaca College and Syracuse University, are coorganizing a March 4-5, 2011 conference on the topic of “Youth, Identities, and Transnational Flows.” Other co-sponsors include Africana Studies, which is donating use of their space for this event at no charge. This event brings distinguished cultural psychology researcher Carola Suarez Orozco from NYU and Enrique Morones from the San Diego advocacy group “Border Angels.”

Update: Spring 2011 conference on “Youth, Identities, Transnational Flows” complete. This international conference included speakers, performers, and activists from many different national origins and disciplines, as well as presenters that ranged from Syracuse high school students to internationally regarded experts on educational policy.  We were pleased to see overflow audiences of over 150 participants.  The conference has seeded an ongoing project in the Latin American Studies program on youth culture, that has continued this year, and will include a follow-up symposium next fall 2012.

The Interaction of Syntax, Semantics and Prosody in Slovenian
Molly Diesing, Linguistics and Draga Zec, Linguistics

How do the various parts of the grammar – prosody, structure, and pragmatics – work together to produce an utterance? While there is much previous work on the individual components of the grammar, an integrated approach remains elusive. Our research has been based on the premise that the phenomenon of South Slavic second position clitic placement provides a unique opportunity for investigating the interplay of the major components of human language. In previous work on Serbian, we have shown that clitic placement is dependent on an intricate interaction of prosody, syntax and discourse factors. In this proposal we present a project to extend our research to Slovenian second position clitics.We seek funds to (1) collect and analyze data from Slovenian (2) travel to Ljubljana, Slovenia to consult with collaborators and conduct experiments with native speakers (3) prepare future funding proposals for a larger cross-linguistic project (4) report results in conference presentations and papers.

Update: The timeline for this project has been delayed because coordination of experimental and corpus work in Ljubljana, Slovenia, took longer than originally projected. Following a new timeline, the groundwork for the planned experiments has been done. One PI (Zec) will make a trip to Slovenia in June 2012 and work on the logistics for conducting experiments that will be run in October 2012. The corpus component of the study will be completed over the summer of 2012.

Limited Rationality and the Strategic Environment: An Experimental Study
Ori Heffetz, JGSM, Michael Waldman, JGSM and Kristen B. Cooper, AEM

The psychology and behavioral economics literatures show that real world decision making is frequently inconsistent with the rational actor model, but an important question is whether the presence of just a small number of rational individuals is sufficient for the predictions of the model to be correct. Recent experimental evidence shows that an important perspective concerning this issue is the nature of the strategic environment. These recent studies consider various related experiments and show that equilibrium behavior is less likely given strategic complementarity. But in a repeated setting with a single shock and a fixed set of players, even in the strategic complementarity case, play is eventually consistent with equilibrium behavior. We propose extending research in this area both theoretically and
empirically by introducing important real world complications such as multiple shocks, heterogeneous shocks, and a constant inflow of inexperienced players, where our focus will be on the nature of convergence after a shock in this more realistic type of setting.

Update: Prof. Heffetz’s team decided to run additional experimental treatments, designed to help them better understand results from the original experiments. During 2012, they will write a paper based on the research to date.

Capital Jurors Deciding Intellectual Disability: What Matters and Why?
Sheri Lynn Johnson, Law, Christopher Seeds, Law and John Blume, Law

Since Atkins v. Virginia declared a categorical exemption from the death penalty for individuals with intellectual disability (mental retardation), few juries have decided the issue—by and large, Atkins decisions are judicial determinations. Among the juries that have determined the Atkins eligibility of capital defendants, however, findings of intellectual disability are exceedingly rare (approximately,11%). To better understand this infrequency, this project seeks to conduct interviews with a subset of jurors from each of the juries, across more than ten States, that reached a verdict on intellectual disability. Do jurors adhere to the substantive clinical definitions? Where jurors make the capital sentencing determination with the intellectual disability determination simultaneously, how do they juggle the distinct issues? What evidence matters to them the most, and why?Prof. Johnson’s team has made some progress on their research interviewing jurors in capital cases on mental retardation issues. However, they have run into large obstacles in obtaining juror names. This difficulty has created delays, but they will continue on course with their research in 2012.

Unpacking the Nano: The Price of the World’s Most Affordable Car
Kent Kleinman, AAP and Mary N. Woods, AAP

This symposium will treat with the social, cultural and environmental consequences of the world’s most affordable car, the new Tata Nano. The symposium is paired with an exhibition at Cornell’s Johnson Art Museum featuring the Nano automobile. It will focus on issues of environmental and socio-economic equity in the global south, the landscapes of automotive infrastructure, and the cultural impacts of mass automobility. Speakers and panelists invited include: Cornell economist Kaushik Basu and urban planner Neema Kudva; author Suketu Mehta; New York Times automotive reporter Phil Patton; landscape architect Dilip da Cuna; environmentalist David Orr; anthropologist Arjun Appadurai; Noble Laureate economist Amartya Sen; designers Bruce Mau and Abbott Miller; and Ratan Tata, among others. Research for the exhibition and symposium began in January 2010 with a multidisciplinary team guided by eight Cornell faculty and external advisors from the fields of economics, landscape studies, anthropology, planning, environmental science, architecture, art, and engineering. The two-day symposium will take place at Cornell on March 10/11, 2011. Graduate and undergraduate students from a fall 2010 seminar entitled “Cars, Culture, and the City: From the Ford to the Nano,” taught by Professor Woods, will also be involved with the symposium and will help to host the outside speakers.

Update: “The Tata Nano: the Price of the World’s Most Affordable Car” was an international symposium that addressed the complex and potentially monumental impact of the Nano — the new, sub-$2,500 automobile designed and produced in India by Tata Motors. The Nano taps deeply into the modernist trope of speed, individualized mobility, and mass production. Speakers and panel discussions explored the myriad issues raised by the Nano including: the design and engineering accomplishment; climate change and social equity on the Indian sub-continent; the cultural landscapes of mobility; and shifts in socio-aesthetic traffic associated with the automobile. Speakers included Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University; Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons; Abhay Deshpande, General Manager, Vehicle Integration, Nano Project, Tata Motors; Aleksander Mergold, Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture, Cornell University; Linda Nozick, Professor of  Environmental Engineering, Cornell University; Phillip Patton, Author and Automotive Critic, The New York Times;  Madhav Badami, Associate Professor, School of Urban Planning, McGill University; Dilip da Cunha, Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, University of Pennsylvania; Neema Kudva, Associate Professor of Planning, Cornell University; Vyjayanthi Rao, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, The New School for Social Research; Donald Albrecht, Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of the City of New York; Bijoy Jain, Architect and Principal, Studio Mumbai;  J. Abbott Miller, Partner, Pentagram; Mary N. Woods, Michael A. McCarthy Professor of Architectural Theory, Cornell University;  Durba Ghosh, Associate Professor of History, Cornell University; Suketu Mehta, Associate Professor of Journalism, New York University.

Immigration, Intra- and Inter-generational Socio-Economic Mobility
Daniel R. Lichter, PAM, Dean R. Lillard, formerly of PAM, and Rebekka Christopoulou, Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center
Co-sponsored with generous support by the Cornell Population Program 

In this project we will examine the social and economic mobility among recent immigrants to the US and their offspring (i.e., second generation). We will use a unique combination of data from US and country of origin surveys that will allow us to produce new insights on the economic incorporation of first and second generation immigrants. Our research design is innovative in combining survey data at both origin and destination. Specifically, we match immigrants in the US to observationally comparable individuals in their country of origin. Unlike previous studies, US immigrants are matched to non-migrants at the origin (rather than to a particular cohort) and, in some cases, to behaviors and outcomes of people during the period before they migrated. We also examine socio-economic outcomes of migrants from six different origin countries with varying levels of economic development. These include Mexico, Canada, China, Russia, Germany, and the UK. We will focus on these countries because we have survey data from each that allows us to match US migrants with their counterparts. With the matched data, we plan to test (i) whether (and how much) first-generation migrants are upwardly mobile; (ii) whether inter‐generational mobility differs (and how) for second-generation immigrants compared to their counterparts in the country of origin; (iii) whether mobility patterns differ by gender; (iv) whether mobility patterns differ by country of origin; and (v) whether mobility patterns differ across ethno-racial groups.

Update: We have made significant progress with our project on international migration and marital homogamy. To date we have compiled and cleaned data and conducted preliminary analysis. We still need to refine our models and complete the final estimation. We hired a graduate student to harmonize and pool together all waves of the Current Population Survey (CPS) that contain information on country of immigrant origin (all monthly surveys from 1994-2011). From these data we drew datasets of US immigrants from the UK, Russia, China, and Germany. In a preliminary analysis, we have combined the data on British immigrants from the CPS with data of British natives who never left the UK from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). With the combined data we tested whether immigration affects marital mobility. That is, we tested whether the British who migrated to the US got married with partners more educated than themselves, whether this upward mobility was higher than for people who stayed in the UK, and whether migration had a causal role in this difference. To correct for bias due to marital sorting, we instrumented educational attainment using spending in education in the US and the UK during school-age. To correct for bias due to selective immigration, we instrumented the migration decision using economic conditions in the US during puberty and early adulthood. Currently, we are fine-tuning our empirical results for the UK and extending the analysis to countries other than the US. Media coverage includes: Newborn in the USA, ‘Well Behind the Starting Line’ (May 11, 2015), Report shows that different races still do not live near each other (July 30, 2015) see also an article in the Chronicle on Dan Lichter’s work.

Do International Bond Markets Diversify Portfolio Risk?
Edith X. Liu, AEM

This project quantifies the potential gains for US investors to diversify portfolio risk using international bond markets. My initially analysis on this question, with non-filtered data and excludingthe most recent financial crisis of 2007-2010, finds substantial risk reduction gains to investing in foreign corporate bond markets. One way to interpret this initial finding is that there are potentially more diversification benefits in international bond markets that US investors are not capturing. This reduction in portfolio risk has the potential to generate large welfare gains by decreasing the fluctuations in individual wealth and consumption. This under-investment in foreign bond markets can be seen as another form of home bias often found in international equity markets, where investors have been found to be less likely to invest in foreign securities relative to domestic assets.(French and Porteba 1998, Coeurdacier and Rey 2010) While extensions of this project will address the potential explanation of home bias, ranging from informational asymmetry to behavioral bias to institutional frictions, this project will be an important first step in quantifying and understanding the degree of home bias that may exist in international bond markets. Further research plans will include disentangling the competing theories for the cause of home bias using the empirical results found in this project.

Update: The project found that international corporate bond markets offer significant diversification potential for US investors, exceeding that of global equity markets. Estimates show that US investors could have reduced portfolio risk by as much as 84% during the last financial crisis. The project is now completed and the paper is currently under review in a peer review journal.

What Drives the Stock Price Runups? Insider Trading vs. Market Anticipation
Qingzhong Ma, Hotel Administration

In this project we investigate whether the stock price increases before the first public announcement of a merger agreement are due to insider trading or market anticipation. Different from previous studies that build upon indirect empirical evidence, we study the private deal-making process before the first public announcement of merger agreements. The private deal process is usually recorded by the merging firms themselves in their merger (or tender offer) proxy statements that they file to the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC). Typical information contained in the process include, for example, when the deal is initiated, the acquirer and target meet, the confidentiality agreement is signed, due diligence starts, the first offer is made, the auction process begins, when the deal is approved by the boards, etc. These detailed, timestamped, and privately-held activities provide rich contents to examine a series of questions related to how private information is incorporated into stock price, one of the major foci of the financial economics literature for the past half century. From these events we create a time-varying probability of deal announcement, which is privy only to the insiders involved in the deal process. By relating this private probability of deal announcement to public market activities, such as stock returns, stock volume, option trading volume, registered insiders’ trades that are subsequently reported to the SEC, we provide innovative empirical evidence that sheds light to the issue of insider trading. Furthermore, this time-varying probability of deal announcement also allows us to take a microscopic view on market anticipation events, which have been viewed as driving pre-announcement stock price increases as well. The findings have implications to bidding strategies in takeovers and regulation on insider trading.

Update: Prof. Ma has generated one paper under review, entitled “Through the Looking Glass: Channels of Information Leakage in Takeover,” and coauthored with Crocker Liu. This paper is also under review at several national and regional conferences for presentation. Two related projects are in the pipeline.

The Coevolution of Individuals and Their Social Setting: A Multi-site Longitudinal Study
Brian Rubineau, ILR, David Lazer, Northeastern University and Michael Neblo, Ohio State University

People are influenced by their social environments in a myriad of ways. At the same time, people shape their social environments through their choices and actions. The coevolution between individuals and their social milieu creates a challenge for empirical study. Disentangling social influence processes from social selection processes is a notoriously difficult problem. The proposed study begins a multi-site longitudinal research project to help solve this problem, and in so doing, elucidate a variety of important social processes. Students in a unique undergraduate scholarship program live in a program-owned dormitory that defines these students’ dominant social milieu throughout college. This program operates dormitories at 14 different university campuses across the U.S. By surveying students upon entry into these social systems, we can observe students’ characteristics prior to the systems’ influence. By surveying entrants and members characteristics and social networks regularly thereafter, we can observe how the social system shapes the individual and vice versa. A pilot one-semester study in this setting has already yielded insights into peer effects on voting behavior, career plans, and health outcomes. The proposed 4-year longitudinal study will improve the power and generalizability of recent findings as well as allow greater scrutiny into the duration and development of these and other effects. This proposal is for support for the first year of this study while we seek funding for later years.

Update: The ISS small grant supported the first year of a proposed 4-year longitudinal study investigating social influence processes  among college students. Fall 2010 represented the first year of data collection, and the grant was instrumental in both collecting the data and establishing the relationship to allow further data collection between our team of researchers and the scholarship program serving as our empirical context. We have now completed two years of data collection as a part of this project; we have a manuscript analyzing our initial results we anticipate submitting to a top sociology journal within the next 6 weeks; we have already submitted one grant proposal for additional funding; and we will be submitting another grant proposal to NIH on May 11, 2012.

The Impact of Social Eating Patterns on Workplace Productivity and Organizational Commitment: Initiating a Program of Firefighter Research
Brian Wansink, AEM, Kevin M. Kniffin, AEM, William D. Schulze, AEM, Carol M. Devine, Nutritional Sciences and Jeffery Sobal, Nutritional Sciences

The evolution of cooperative behavior is a puzzle for conventional economic models that presume that people are rational or selfish agents. In order to study this question, we propose to investigate a set of mechanisms that facilitate and/or disrupt cooperation within sub-groups of a community where cooperation is traditionally prized. Through a study of eating patterns among firefighters in a large urban fire department, we will test hypotheses concerning the relationship between communal eating among co-workers and various measures of individual and group performance and satisfaction. Our proposal draws upon multiple disciplinary perspectives and promises implications for several fields, including occupational health, industrial psychology, and behavioral economics.

Update: With support of a fire department, the project successfully engaged a representative sample of more than 75% of the Department’s officers to complete a survey related to food consumption within firehouses.  The survey built upon two weeks of site visits during which interviews were conducted.  We are presently completing two papers about the project that will focus on the role of food consumption in relation to (1) organizational behavior and (2) occupational health.  Likewise, findings have been shared with the Department’s leadership (i.e., Labor and Management) and two Invited Talks have been given about the project (2011). Media Coverage includes: ISS’ Small Grant Awardee, Brian Wansink, Turns Back on Mindless Eating in his New Book (2014). Kevin Kniffen authors study on firefighter performance (2015). Lunch is served: Workplace Meals Improve Productivity (2015). Why Every Company Should Have a Cafeteria (2016).